By JAKE CHASTAIN
The boys over at BJPenn.com Radio recently invited longtime MMA fan-favorite and top competitor, Tyson Griffin, onto the airwaves to discuss the current happenings of his career and also his upcoming fight with JZ Cavalcante at WSOF 4 this Saturday, August 10th on NBC Sports Network. Griffin, who competed in the UFC for many years, has been rather quiet in the MMA circles as of late but his recent signing World Series of Fighting has put him back into the MMA mainstream and his fight with Cavalcante is sure to draw a lot of attention. Griffin was kind enough to talk about many topics with our crew, including his highly anticipated fight opposite JZ. Here are som of the highlights from Tyson Griffin’s interview with BJPenn.com Radio:
Griffin was first asked about what his future goals in the sport of MMA are and if he would eventually like to re-join the UFC roster sometime down the road. He replied, “My goal now is just to fight against tough competition. Big name guys, big fights, and JZ is one of them. If it leads back to the UFC it leads back to the UFC because obviously the UFC is full of all of those big names and world ranked guys but if World Series of Fighting keeps signing guys like me, JZ, and top ten guys in the world I don’t see myself having a reason to leave. I just want to fight tough competition and test myself and keep proving to myself that I’m up there and I can compete with the best in the world.”
Griffin hit a rough losing skid before being released from the UFC, going 1-4 in his final 5 fights with the organization. He was asked during the interview to touch on what he thought the main factors were to him hitting that skid. He explained, “I think I just got lulled into going through the motions and there was a lot of gym drama there at Extreme Couture. It wasn’t really fun to be in there unless I was training for a fight so I kind of just got stuck going through the motion of just training for fights and not really getting better and having fun in between fights.”
Griffin, who was a long-time representative of Extreme Couture in Las Vegas, recently left that camp to join the team at AKA in San Jose. He was asked to talk about that transition and how he is taking to the training at his new gym. Griffin stated, “I’m out here in San Jose at AKA now and the gym atmosphere out here is awesome, the workout partners here are great just like they were at Extreme Couture, so I’ve got those top level training partners and I’m just having fun again. I think as long as I’m having fun it’s going to be hard to beat me and I think when I’m out there not having fun I think about it too much, I kind of take it too serious.”
He was also asked to touch on what factors led him to leave Extreme Couture in Las Vegas.
“It was a couple of things. I ended up coming out here to help Gray Maynard train for his Clay Guida camp, I helped finish that up with him and there was a lot of familiar faces,” he explained. He continued by stating that AKA had, “a good atmosphere, great training partners. There’s a lot of people at AKA that a lot of people have never heard of that have a lot of skills, a lot of potential that you’re going to see climb the ranks sooner than later, and not only that…I grew up an hour from here. I grew up an hour from San Jose.”
Griffin has always been an exciting fighter and a fan-favorite, but anytime a fighter is released from the UFC it becomes a concern that they may fall out of the spotlight and into the darkness. When asked how he felt about his the possibility of losing some of his popularity he explained that recognition was the least of his worries.
“The hardcore fans still know everything about me,” he explained. “I didn’t get into this for fame or recognition. It doesn’t bother me when people don’t know who I am or what I’ve done. I fight for me and at the end of the day, if the fans like it, if the organizations love it, if everybody else loves it then that’s even better. It’s awesome.”
JZ Cavalcante has also been a popular fight for a very long time in the sport of MMA. When asked if Griffin knew that this fight was eventually going to happen or if he was eye JZ before the fight was ever signed he replied, “He’s definitely someone I’ve had my eye on. When I was coming up in the game and I fought Duane Ludwig in Strikeforce I thought that I was going to be locked into some contracts with Strikeforce and potentially fighting overseas in PRIDE so I was definitely keeping guys like Gomi and Tawajiri and JZ, you know, all the top guys were on my radar and I was gearing myself up mentally to have to compete against them one day and the talks kind of fell through and I ended up signing with the UFC and I couldn’t have been happier going with them. So definitely JZs kind of one of those guys that’s been on my radar.”
He continued, “Definitely interesting the way our career paths have kind of merged and we’re both kind of in the same spot, kind of both needing a big win over a reputable name and I think that’s going to make for an exciting fight for the fans, I think it’s going to make for an exciting fight for World Series of Fighting and I think it’s just a perfect combination of our careers colliding right now.”
Griffin has been fairly quiet following his release from the UFC back in October of 2011. Since then he’s only fought one time, a win over Efrain Escudero, and was asked if his new contract with WSOF was going to keep him more active than he has been in the last year and a half. Griffin confirmed:
“Yeah, for sure. When I got cut from the UFC I got kind of depressed and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life,” he explained, “so I kind of took a step back and was like, man I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. So I just kind of thought about it for awhile and ended up kind of mixing it up, training with different guys, and kind of found what I got into this sport for and that’s just to have fun, so I’m focusing on just having fun.”
He continued, “When I’m in the gym having fun and training there’s no reason not to get out there and compete. I definitely plan on staying active and getting hopefully 2 fights a year, 3 fights a year at least.”
When asked if he wanted to eventually make his way back to the UFC he replied, “My goal right now is just one day at a time, one fight at a time.”
He was then asked to comment on the hot topic of fighter pay. Griffin was very stern about the subject and clearly explained, “At the end of the day, hard work pays off and if you’re not winning you’re not working hard. You shouldn’t expect to make a bunch of money here.”
“At the end of the day you have to do this for the love of the sport. You can’t do this shit for money because if you’re fighting for money and that’s all you’re doing it for it’s going to be rough, it’s going to be miserable.”
“As long as you put on a good show and you entertain the fans, you’re going to have a job.”
To close the interview Griffin was asked to talk about what he thought Cavalcante was going to bring to the octagon and how he felt the fight was going to play out in order for him to get the W:
“I expect him to be on-point, man. It seems like he’s always on point with his skill-set. He’s right in front of you, in your face, and he’s waiting for you to make a mistake. So I have to be on my game, be sharp, I gotta mix it up and not let him catch me making any mistakes and not let him capitalize if I do. The guy hits hard, he’s got great jiu-jitsu, he’s out there with the Blackzilians and has good wrestling. I know Rashad is out there probably coaching him good, you know? So it’s probably going to be a great fight and I gotta do what I do best and that’s push the pace and put on a Fight of the Night type performance and I think JZ is going to have a hard time competing up with level of fight.”
On what he was going to have to bring to the fight in order to get the win he explained, “I gotta mix it up and take him into deep water, you know? I know he’s going to be coming out there in the first round trying to knock me out and I gotta take him into deep water, I gotta make him miss and grind him out. I gotta fight him where he’s weak and I think that his conditioning.”
We would like to thank Tyson Griffin for joining our crew on BJPenn.com Radio and we wish him the best of luck in his upcoming fight on August 10th at WSOF 4 against JZ Cavalcante.