By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After Forrest Griffin lost at UFC 101 to Anderson Silva, he got up, and ran out of the arena. No one was quite sure why Griffin, who had just been knocked out, left the scene of the fight.
“Literally after the fight, still sweating, still wet, I put some clothes on, and I walked out. I wanted to smoke crack,” Griffin joked (sort of) on Tuesday when he stopped by the 94WIP studios to speak to myself and Brian Haddad. “I want to find somebody, with crack, because I wanted to destroy everything in life, you know? I’m done with this life. Like, literally, I wanted to be found on the streets of Philly in three years, begging for crack.”
Griffin smiles more than you’d imagine a guy would when describing being beaten so bad it makes him consider throwing his life away for crack. He later described how he’d be able to find food in his crack-addict existence. He discovered that the trash cans outside of Starbucks and McDonald’s are always full of good food. He noticed this while searching a McDonald’s trash can for a set of lost keys, and finding some leftover McNuggets he couldn’t resist.
“I didn’t feel great. It’s hard to remember what actually happened,” Griffin said. “Philly’s such a beautiful city, and it will always be haunted because of that [fight].”
UFC celebrates its 20th birthday with a documentary called Fighting For A Generation: 20 Years Of The UFC, which premiers on Fox Sports 1 on November 5th at 9pm.
Griffin’s part of UFC history is an important one.
As the documentary makes clear, the Ultimate Fighting Championship had been around since 1993, and succeeded in making fans, but not enough in making money. After its rights were sold, the UFC decided to buy time on the Spike Network and produce its own reality show, the now famous Ultimate Fighter.
It was that show which launched the career of Griffin, and produced the most important match in UFC history; Griffin vs. Stephan Bonner. The bloody, brutal, toe-to-toe, middle of the ring fight was the moment that the UFC really began to gain traction.
“Let’s use the words ‘tipping point’,” Griffin said as he chuckled. Griffin is aware of the importance of the fight, but doesn’t seem to take it, or anything, particularly seriously. “Obviously it’s great to be a part of that sort of nonsense. You don’t have perspective on it at the time, but obviously, it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done.
Griffin then unexpectedly quoted Malcolm Gladwell, and noted that athletics are the exception to Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule. “Like I can put twice as many hours into it as John Jones, and Jon Jones will beat me up every time.”
The fight, which was as basic as it was brutal, was fueled by a raucous crowd, that stomped with such fervor the building shook.
“These guys look like dorky accountants, but they’re beating the hell out of each other. And it’s awesome,” Griffin said as he was imagining what new UFC fans must have thought while watching. “Being in that moment, I could feel the energy. And when the stomping started, I thought ‘alright, I’ve got more. I’ve got more.’ Almost like I was at a concert the other night, and the band kind of feeds off the energy of the crowd.”
After that fight in 2005, UFC’s ascent to its current heights atop ratings and the public consciousness of young men, has been steady and significant, taking a place that boxing once held. It’s popularity ceiling is unknown, but it’s pretty much a certainty that it’s not there yet.
“It’s the essence of human competition,” Griffin says is the reason that UFC has resonated so well. “Man, woman Everybody has that instinct in them. It’s really, it’s more relateable than any game, like futball or soccer, this crosses all margins, with fighting. On the other hand, it’s fighting, people are getting hit in the face, that turns a lot of peoples’ stomachs. It’s not for everybody. It’s not meant to be for everybody. You don’t have to love it. You either like it or you don’t. It’s not wrong to not like it. [If you] prefer not to watch people get their arms broken.”
Griffin likened his start with UFC to the movie Fight Club, so we couldn’t help but ask him a question asked in the movie. If Griffin could fight anyone in history, who would he fight?
“That’s a good question, and I’ll give you the best answer I’ve come up with,” Griffin said. “I don’t care about politics anymore, but when I did, I said Bill O’Reilly and Bill Maher.”
The UFC 20 Days till UFC 167 concludes with UFC® 167: ST-PIERRE vs. HENDRICKS, available live on Pay-Per-View at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Saturday, Nov. 16 on UFC.TV, iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH Network, Avail-TVN, and in Canada on BellTV, Shaw Communications, Sasktel, and Viewer’s Choice Canada.