Las Vegas, NV — Forrest Griffin is part of the old guard of mixed martial arts, known in his heyday for saving the UFC thanks to his Ultimate Fighter scrap with Stephen Bonnar, which sparked renewed interest in the promotion.
Griffin, who won the UFC light heavyweight championship in 2008, transitioned into a behind the scenes role following his retirement in 2012. These days, the UFC star serves as Vice President of Athlete Development at the UFC Performance Institute — and his role at the PI allows him to, in a sense, help further training for MMA as a whole.
More than just making a good impression to young fighters coming in the door at the PI in Las Vegas, “we want to work with them,” Griffin told Cageside Press ahead of the 14th Annual World MMA Awards. “We want their business. We want them to engage with us, and we want them to improve themselves in their career. Physically, mentally. Just to engage with the PI, to learn. To raise the level of the sport and training in the sport.”
“We want to figure out the best way to train for the sport of MMA, and it’s important that people believe that what we’re saying is actually true.”
Griffin also believes that opening up shop in other territories, as with UFC PI’s in China and Mexico, is key to growing the sport in those regions. “Absolutely. You strengthen a market by making the athletes from that region better. Also, it draws attention.”
The Ultimate Fighter winner isn’t all business though. Whether you believe him or not, he claims to be stealing Francis Ngannou’s lunch at the PI. “I figure nobody ever picked on that guy, so I like to steal his food,” he joked. As for who the worst fighter is for leaving out exercise equipment, “This is good. This could go somewhere. I’m sworn to secrecy on that one. There’s some names on that one, but I can’t give them to you on air.”
Watch our full interview with UFC Hall of Fame member Forrest Griffin above.