If Griffin Beats Sherk, He'll Take Florian Next

By Mike Sloan Aug 19, 2008
Although he’s feasted on several sturdy contenders at 155 pounds and snatched up an unprecedented three “Fight of the Night” awards from the UFC, Tyson Griffin (Pictures) says he’s just getting started.

The Sacramento native has racked up four consecutive victories inside the Octagon, all coming against upper-tier foes with a similar goal: capture the UFC lightweight championship.

Griffin continues to inch closer to that pinnacle, though as he puts it, he’s still fairly far away. The Xtreme Couture fighter knows that landing a shot at 155-pound titleholder B.J. Penn (Pictures) won’t be easy. Even after dominating durable Brazilian submission specialist Marcus Aurelio (Pictures) in his last bout on July 5, Griffin patiently awaits his turn like a crocodile lurking in a murky river.

“I want to be the best, and to be the best you have to beat the best,” Griffin told Sherdog.com. “B.J.’s one of the best fighters, pound-for-pound. As far as I know, he’s going to move up and then come back down and defend his 155-pound belt. But we’ll see if he does -- only time will tell. I have other things to worry about first, though.”

Granted, Penn is only a small blip on the Las Vegas transplant’s radar. Griffin first has to topple former lightweight king and recent Penn victim Sean Sherk (Pictures) at UFC 90 card on Oct. 25.

Ahead of what should be a gripping duel, Griffin is cautious about his upcoming opponent. He has superb wrestling ability and technique in his own right, but Sherk presents a threat like no other he’s faced as a professional in terms of wrestling, explosiveness and strength. A veteran of more than 400 wrestling contests and 40 pro MMA bouts, Sherk is without question the most experienced opponent Griffin will have faced up to this point.

However, Tyson is confident that his own skill set will trump whatever Sherk brings to the cage.

“I think my wrestling ability will match up very well with his,” Griffin said. “I wrestle with Division I wrestlers all the time, like Gray Maynard (Pictures) and Johny Hendricks. I came a long way since I started training MMA. My wrestling may be even better than his. I don’t know for sure -- we’ll find out.

“He’s got good hands, too,” Griffin added. “I think I have better standup, though. He (tends) to throw only arm punches where he doesn’t really commit. I’d like to stand out of his range and pick him apart like B.J.”

Griffin acknowledged that he is a bit wary of Sherk’s ability to explode for takedowns, and he is fully aware of Sherk’s dangerous ground-and-pound, particularly his elbows. He doesn’t expect to get cut, but he admits that it’s possible that Sherk could put him on his back and open him up. Yet Griffin also quickly asserts that while unlikely, a cut is the only way Sherk can win.

What Griffin is looking for is not only another performance that would garner him “Fight of the Night” accolades -- that would just be icing on the cake. The 12-1 lightweight has his eyes on the real prize, and that’s the 155-pound crown. Whether it be Penn or someone in his spot provided “The Prodigy” might stay at welterweight if he so chooses, Griffin wants to fight the best. When his time to fight for the championship comes, Griffin wants there to be no dispute that he’s earned it.

“I’m not trying to leapfrog over anybody because I want to truly be the number one contender when I do fight for the title,” he said, brushing aside the notion that he should get a crack at Penn’s title before anyone else if he thwarts Sherk’s comeback bid.

In fact, Griffin added that a fight with another talented and popular lightweight is in his sights. Kenny Florian (Pictures) is a man he believes is just as deserving of a world title bid.

“If I beat Sherk, I think it would be a great way to set up the number one contender for me to fight a guy like Kenny Florian,” Griffin said. “But I have to try and take care of Sherk first.”
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