Forrest Griffin has been on top of the UFC light heavyweight heap before.
His reign wasn't long, beating Rampage Jackson for the title in 2008, then losing it five months later to Rashad Evans in his very first defense. But Griffin knows what it takes to get to the top – and just how tough the competition is there.
A rematch against Shogun Rua at Saturday's UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro is hardly the easiest road back into the title picture. Still, it's the one Griffin has to take.
“I think it’s still a reasonably good fight for me,” Griffin said on a conference call with reporters. “You look around at 205 and find me the easy fight. [UFC president] Dana [White] talks about the logjam; you know, there’s no easy fight that’s in the top 10 guys. The 205ers are all pretty good, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Rua is coming off three straight 205-pound title fights: a loss to Lyoto Machia, a rematch win over “The Dragon” to claim the belt and a loss to Jon Jones in March.
Griffin beat Rua via rear naked choke in 2007, before the Brazilian worked his way back up the championship ladder with wins over Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. Rua seemed far from 100 percent the first time around against Griffin – a fact the American, a +180 underdog, is only too aware of.
“You watch Shogun and you see how good he fought against Chuck Liddell and you just try and be ready for that Shogun,” Griffin said. “Not necessarily the Shogun I fought. It seemed like when he fought Chuck, he was 100 percent on his game and that’s the guy, you know – hopefully that’s not the guy that will show up. But that’s the guy you want to be ready for.”
White said the winner of Saturday's co-main event will “absolutely” be in the title picture at 205.
“We got the logjam broken up and we got that division going again,” White said. “This fight will happen down in Brazil. Right after this fight happens, we got the title fight between Rampage and Jones. Rashad has already fought and won and looks spectacular and he’s next in line. So it’s very important. These guys are the top guys with Machida in that division. We’ll see what happens.”