Griffin Bonnar

The UFC 160 post-fight press conference opened with a surprising announcement from UFC President Dana White; UFC veteran and one of the sport’s modern pioneers, Forrest Griffin, is to retire.

Griffin summed up his UFC tenure in his typically understated and comedic style. “It’s been a good eight years I guess,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is when Dana White says retire, you should retire. Otherwise, you’ll blow your knee out before your next fight.”

Griffin was a member of the original cast of the UFC reality show “The Ultimate Fighter”. In many ways, it was a series which rescued the promotion, which was struggling financially at the time, and Griffin’s dramatic finale fight against former roommate Stephan Bonnar is pointed to as the moment which pushed the Ultimate Fighting Championship into the public consciousness.

For 15 minutes, Griffin and Bonnar delivered a slugfest which is still considered by many to be the greatest fight in the history of the UFC. For three razor close rounds, the two men traded blows in a bloody and exhausting display of heart and determination. A technical classic it was not, but it was an historic brawl which saw 3.3 million viewers tune in and catapulted the UFC to another level. Griffin was the winner that night courtesy of three 29-28 judges’ scorecards but Dana White handed both men UFC contracts as a raucous crowd roared in appreciation for what they had witnessed.

For that reason, it is fitting that Griffin and Bonnar will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, as a pair, in July.

Some have complained about Bonnar’s induction, citing his middling post Ultimate Fighter career, not to mention his two drug test failures for steroid use.

Certainly, of the two men that showed so much promise on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, it was Griffin who would go on to achieve the most in the famous Octagon.

Forrest will be remembered for many things.

His trilogy with Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz; they split the first two contests, before Griffin narrowly claimed victory in the rubber match, which would turn out to be both his and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s” final UFC fight.

His upset victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix Champion, considered to be the best 205lbs fighter on the planet at the time.

And his subsequent UFC Light Heavyweight Championship win over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in 2008, which came, fittingly, in the best fight of that year.

He will, unfortunately for Griffin, also be remembered for his humiliating defeat at the hands of the greatest Mixed Martial Artist of all time. In that 2009 fight, Anderson Silva toyed with the former 205lbs champ, showing utter disdain for the TUF 1 winner’s offence, dropping his hands and dodging Griffin’s strikes at will before knocking him out in the fourth minute of the opening round.

That demolition will be recalled just as vividly as Griffin’s dramatic wins over Shogun and Rampage. For all intents and purposes, it was that fight which truly retired the soon-to-be UFC Hall of Famer. Forrest was never the same competitor afterwards.

However, Griffin will always be primarily remembered for one fight.

Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar will always be intrinsically linked because of what they delivered on April 9th, 2005 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dana White summed up Griffin’s importance to the sport in trademark fashion; “I truly believe we are where we are because of this guy. We had this great event tonight that was packed with people going crazy, and he’s one of the guys who has been one of the building blocks in this sport and this company.”