Forrest Griffin is the current Vice CEO of the UFC Performance Institute and is a UFC Hall of Famer. Before this, Griffin was Light Heavyweight Champion for 6 months.
Griffin won over many fans because of his former career as an officer in the Georgia Police Department. Throughout his career, he was heavily featured in EA’s UFC fighting games as he was incredibly popular with the fans. Griffin was heavily featured in the first season of Ultimate Fighter and only grew more popular after that. Griffin later featured as a coach during Series 7.
Griffin fought in both the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight divisions but found the most success in the latter.
Today, we are going to look at Griffin’s life before the UFC, we will also take a deeper dive into his MMA career.
Life Before The UFC
Forrest Griffin was born in Columbus, Ohio, the United States on July 1st, 1979. He grew up in Evans, Georgia where he played a lot of football.
He later went to the University of Georgia to study political science. After graduating, he became a member of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta, Georgia. He also worked as a Patrol Officer on the University of Georgia campus.
During his time in the police department, he trained to be an MMA fighter under Adam and Rory Singer. Eventually, Griffin quit MMA before Dana White convinced him to take part in the first series of Ultimate Fighter.
He had a huge impact on the show and was offered a UFC contract.
After rediscovering his talent for the sport, Griffin quit his job and moved to Las Vegas to become a full-time fighter.
In Las Vegas, he trained under Robert Drysdale with a heavy focus on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Before Griffin joined the UFC he took part in 11 professional fights – he had a record of 9-0-2. He lost his first-ever fight, then won 8 in a row before losing again. The first 7 of these fights he did in the Heavyweight division, but in 2004 he moved down to the Light Heavyweight division.
In his final fight before joining the UFC, he fought Edson Paradeo. In this fight, Paradeo broke Griffin’s left arm and Griffin was still able to win the fight via knockout.
The UFC Years (2001 – 2012)
Forrest Griffin finished his UFC career with a 19-0-7 win-loss record.
Griffin made his UFC debut as part of the first series of Ultimate Fighter. This was the reality TV show that helped bring the UFC to the public eye and many believe it was responsible for the international audience that the company now has.
Griffin was a huge hit with the fans in the first season and ended the show by fighting Stephan Bonnar. The fight went all 5 rounds and Griffin won it via a unanimous decision. Dana White still refers to this fight as the most important fight in the history of the UFC and Bonnar named it the number #1 UFC fight of all time.
Griffin one a 6 figure purse for beating Bonnar and shortly after the series he moved to Las Vegas. This was in 2005.
His next fight was against Tito Ortiz – a former Light Heavyweight champion – which he lost via a split decision that is still considered one of the most controversial of all time.
Griffin went on to take part in a rematch against Bannon later that year. He beat Bannon again via a unanimous decision.
In the second series of Ultimate Fighter, Griffin was beaten by Keith Jardine. Later that year he fought Keith Jardine and won via decision. In 2007, he beat both Hector Ramirez and SHOGUN champion, Maurício Rua.
After that fight, he had to take some time off to receive shoulder surgery. When Griffin returned he was given the chase to fight for the Light Heavyweight title.
Griffin took on Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in 2008 and beat him to win the Light Heavyweight title. Griffin went on to lose the title in his next fight against Rashad Evans. He then went on to lose his next fight to Anderson Silva.
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Before he retired, Griffin fought Tito Ortiz twice more, beating him both times. He also had a rematch against Mauricio Rua which he lost.
Griffin retired after his third victory over Tito Ortiz in 2012. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame just one year later.