Known throughout the industry as one of the hardest working competitors to fight in the sport of mixed martial arts, Forrest Griffin will have the opportunity to defend his UFC light heavyweight title for the first time on Dec. 27 when he squares off against Rashad Evans at UFC 92 in Las Vegas.
While Griffin's physical abilities have never been questioned, it's his mental game that has earned him a place among the best fighters in the world. He has a distinct ability to pick his opponents apart in such a way that he takes them out of their game on his way to a victory.
As he prepares for his fight with Evans, the champion has nothing but respect for his opponent, and understands exactly the task at hand.
"Rashad's a guy that's undefeated, never been knocked out, never been submitted. I've never seen him hurt, knocked down," Griffin told MMAWeekly Radio recently. "I mean, I've seen him look tired, but I've never seen him ever quit moving. He's a guy with a lot of strengths and few weaknesses."
When analyzing past fight performances by Evans, Griffin admits to being surprised at the way he was able to knock out Chuck Liddell in his last fight, but believes that their match-up has a much different dynamic.
"I don't know if Rashad's gameplan in that fight will apply to the fight we're going to have. Chuck is a special guy and he had the right gameplan, did all the right things, and he capitalized on a mistake that Chuck made with that incredible speed he's got, but I'm not a one punch knockout guy," Griffin stated. "Obviously I see a fight with myself and Rashad a little more like his fight with Bisping."
In the fight with Michael Bisping, which resulted in a three-round split decision in Evans' favor, the former Michigan State wrestler showed his takedowns early on, but focused on the stand-up portion of his game for most of the fight, which was back and forth for all 15 minutes.
Getting past that performance, Griffin also looks at how Evans will react to a 25-minute title fight, something he's never had to prepare for. The former Ultimate Fighter Season 1 champion learned his championship pedigree preparation on the way to peak at the right time from none other than the legendary Randy Couture.
"I would train hard and then taper and then show up and feel good on the day you need to feel good. Not the day after the fight or two days before, but the day of the fight, make that day your best day to perform," Griffin said about what he learned from Couture.
Griffin is also cognoscente of the wrestling game that Evans brings into this fight, something he's faced before when squaring off against fighters like Tito Ortiz.
"A wrestler of Rashad's caliber, if they don't like the way things are going, even if they do like the way things are going on the feet and they feel the takedown there, they're probably going to be asked to go for it," Griffin said.
As he breaks down the fight, Griffin has nothing but compliments for his opponent, and he never shies away from some self-deprecating humor when describing his own fight techniques.
Regardless of jokes or strategy going into the fight, one thing has been made certain. Griffin is ready to fight and defend his light heavyweight title at UFC 92.