While no guarantees are being made to Tyson Griffin regarding his lightweight fight at UFC 90 on Oct. 25 against former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk, the stakes are very high.
Griffin has worked hard climbing his way up a long UFC lightweight ladder with four consecutive victories inside the Octagon over Clay Guida, Thiago Tavares, Gleison Tibau, and Marcus Aurelio. A win over Sherk could earn him a future title shot against current champion B.J. Penn, or put him in a position where he could be fighting for number one contendership.
Griffin doesn’t need anyone to explain to him what’s at stake. One of the most exciting fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division, Griffin has earned his way to the top through hard work. In the midst of a hard training camp at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Griffin recently took a break from training to speak exclusively with FiveOuncesOfPain.com to discuss a potential rematch vs. Urijah Faber; his response to past comments by Nick Diaz that he’s a “gym jumper” for leaving the Cesar Gracie camp; whether he has any particular interest in a fight vs. Diaz’s younger brother, UFC lightweight Nate Diaz; who the best pure wrestler is in the UFC’s lightweight division; and more.
Sam Caplan: In a recent interview you said you had no interest moving down to 145 lbs. to fight Urijah Faber again. What if he was willing to move up to 155 lbs. and fight you in the UFC?
Tyson Griffin: I’m up for anything that the UFC puts in front of me. He had the opportunity a long time ago to move up to my weight class, which is the only way the rematch is going to happen and it hasn’t happened yet. I’m not opposed to anyone at 155, I’m just not one to cut the weight and be a 145 pounder.
Sam Caplan: You’ll be fighting Sean Sherk next at UFC 90 on Oct. 25. He’s a former UFC lightweight champ and a former number one contender. If you beat him, do you feel like you’ll deserve a guaranteed shot at the lightweight title?
Tyson Griffin: I don’t think they’ll be any guarantee but I definitely think that if I win over Sean Sherk that I’m deserving of a title shot or at least a chance to fight for a number one contendership if they don’t have a title fight soon. I think it will be a big move for my career and big jump in rankings for the UFC.
Sam Caplan: Sherk’s a good wrestler and you’re a good wrestler. Who do you consider to be the better wrestler of the two?
Tyson Griffin: I guess we’ll see Oct. 25. We both never really wrestled at a Division I level but we both have Division I-level training partners and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top as far as wrestling skills.
Sam Caplan: What do you think of Sherk’s standup?
Tyson Griffin: I think he’s well-rounded. He uses his punches, his kicks, his elbows; he does everything. He’s a true mixed martial artist and it’s going to be a fun fight.
Sam Caplan: As far as the lightweight division in the UFC is concerned, who do you consider the best pure wrestler?
Tyson Griffin: Awwww man… best pure wrestler? I mean I’d have to go with my training partner, Gray Maynard. He’s got the most credentials and the most skills and he’s honestly one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever worked with in MMA.
Sam Caplan: Gray Maynard is an up-and-coming guy in the UFC and is quickly moving up the rankings after some big wins. Both of you train at Xtreme Couture with a lot of talented fighters and I was wondering if training there prevents you from fighting teammates such as Gray Maynard? If that fight was offered to you, would you be able to accept it?
Tyson Griffin: I don’t think that I could. He’s my training partner. He’s the guy I train with every day right now and unless they offered us a whole lot of money… I mean, we beat up each other pretty good every day in the gym but unless they offered us a whole lot of money, I don’t see that fight happening.
Sam Caplan: You used to train out of Cesar Gracie’s camp in California before moving over to Xtreme Couture. Nick Diaz has been critical of you in the past by labeling you a “gym jumper.” Can you talk about your decision to switch camps and your feelings about Nick Diaz?
Tyson Griffin: I don’t have any feelings or at least any hard feelings towards Nick Diaz. But I decided to make the move out here (and) it was David Terrell who decided to bring me out here in the first place so I can’t really say I jumped to anything because I tried to have a relationship with both gyms and Dave wasn’t for it and that’s not my problem. I want to be the best fighter that I can be and this is where I can be the best fighter.
Sam Caplan: Nick Diaz fights for EliteXC so that’s a fight that can’t happen. Nate Diaz just recently improved his UFC record to 5-0. Is that a fight that interests you at all?
Tyson Griffin: Not at all. If our careers collide, our careers collide but I don’t take anything personal. I’m not a big s— talker; I talk with my hands. If our careers collide, then so be it.
Sam Caplan: At UFCs 63, 67, 72, and 76 you won either a submission of fight of the night bonus. How big of a difference in lifestyle do those bonuses make for a fighter?
Tyson Griffin: I guess it depends on how you take it. Personally, I’ve used that money to help my family out and make my way of living a little bit better but I haven’t really splurged much. I have a house here that I am buying pretty soon so I’m going to be use the money to pay my mortgage. But I’m not a big glamor guy. I don’t need big fancy watches or big fancy cars.
Sam Caplan: Training at Xtreme Couture in Vegas, how often do you see Randy Couture?
Tyson Griffin: Right now? Every day, man. He’s getting ready for his fight. He’s in the gym working his butt off every day.
Sam Caplan: How do you see his fight at UFC 91 against Brock Lesnar going down?
Tyson Griffin: I just see Randy coming up with a good game plan like he always does and pushing the pace of the fight and breaking Brock’s conditioning and breaking his will and maybe finishing him before the round is up.