Tyson Griffin: Terry Goodlad | Sherdog.com
It was the first and only time Tyson Griffin has been finished.
Takanori Gomi hit him with a right hook, and their August UFC bout was over just 64 seconds after it had begun. Having lost a split decision to Evan Dunham less than two months before, it wasn’t the rebound performance Griffin was looking for. It wasn’t even a learning experience.
“I watched and I tried to pick it apart and see if I made a mistake, but I just got caught,” Griffin said during a recent interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I could beat myself up over it and say I’ve got to work on this, I’ve got to work on that, but that’s not the case. … I didn’t really take anything away from Gomi. We fight out there with 4-ounce gloves, and anybody can get knocked out. It’s what happened: I got caught. They stopped the fight. It is what it is. I’m not going to complain about it. I think I learned a bigger lesson fighting Evan and getting outpositioned.”
With back-to-back losses to Dunham and Gomi, Griffin has gone from perennial lightweight contender to a prelim fighter who will have to work his way back up the ranks. He’ll try to start the climb Saturday, when he takes on Nik Lentz at UFC 123.
“He’s just a tough, hardnosed fighter,” Griffin said. “He’s a Midwest wrestler, so he’s a grinder. Definitely going to be a tough fight.”
Lentz is 3-0 in the UFC with one draw. However, he came under fire for a boring performance in his most recent bout, a unanimous decision over Andre Winner in August.
“I think against Andre Winner he fought a smart fight,” Griffin said. “Andre Winner’s not a grappler. He fought smart and won. You can’t complain. That’s how I’ve lost all my fights, is getting outwrestled. It is what it is. This is mixed martial arts, and if you want to complain about it, go watch kickboxing. I’m expecting that hardnosed wrestler. If he comes out and grinds on me, that’s what I’m expecting. If he wants to stand and bang with me, then that might be a bad idea for him, but I’m definitely expecting somebody trying to get me on the ground and get me against the fence and grind out a decision.”
Griffin understands Lentz’s potential to win the fight on points. He’s also aware that he can’t let himself get outpositioned, which is how he believes Dunham, an occasional training partner, beat him in June.
“To be 100-percent honest, Dunham has stayed on my back in the gym and I think he knew that he could get there and stay there,” Griffin said. “I was maybe a little too stubborn in not working on that in the camp and thinking that without a T-shirt … he would slip off a lot easier. I wasn’t as sweaty and he wasn’t as sweaty, so it didn’t work out that way. Instead of expecting [Lentz] to slip off, I’ve definitely been working on a lot of stuff. If [Lentz] gets on my back, he’s going to get slammed on his head just like Evan Dunham did, but I definitely don’t plan on letting him stay there for three rounds.”
Whether he was losing position or getting caught with a hook, Griffin believes it was his aggression that hurt him against Gomi and Dunham. That’s not necessarily something he’s going to change, though.
“Being aggressive, I guess, is what makes me make mistakes,” he said. “Being aggressive against Gomi is what got me caught. Things like that, again, that I can’t really overanalyze and try and change who I am. I’ve got to go out there and fight my fight, and whatever happens, happens.”
A third straight loss would put most fighters on the chopping block, but Griffin has been involved in some of the most entertaining matches in UFC history. He’s not worried about getting cut, nor is he concerned with forcing an exciting fight against an opponent who might be inclined to a duller pace if that’s what it takes to win.
“I don’t try to make a fight exciting,” Griffin said. “It just ends up that way. I’ve always thought my biggest weapon is my cardio and pushing the pace, and just leaving all my gas out there is what ends up being exciting. Whether or not he’s trying to stifle me, I’m going to be pushing the pace, as opposed to like with Dunham, where I was kind of hoping he’d slip off. I’m not going to stop for 15 minutes. If he’s planning on stifling me or whatever you want to call it, good luck.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:20:45) with Griffin, who also discussed fighting teammates like Gray Maynard.