Behind the scenes with Tyson Griffin

Posted on Aug 8 2013 - 8:58pm by Evan Shoman

On August 10, 2013, Tyson Griffin will once again step into the cage to do battle.  He is scheduled to fight the Blackzilian’s Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante,  in the World Series of Fighting organization.  In 2008, both Griffin and Cavalcante were top 10 ranked lightweights.  Hardcore fans know that this will be a fight that shouldn’t be missed.  Griffin was a 6 time Fight of the Night winner during his tenure in the UFC and he looks to bring that savagery that made him one of the best in the world, back into the cage against JZ.

Stephanie Daniels and I have been interviewing Tyson since 2007 and closely following his career.  He has always been an older soul in a young man’s body.  Hearing him speak in this interview was very telling about where he’s at, in his MMA career.  He has suffered the ups and downs of the sport and seems to have come out on top at 29 years of age with a clear mind, body, and spirit.

On fighting Gesias Cavalcante:

“Facing JZ has been something that has been on my radar for years.  Almost 10 years into my career, here it is.  I am fighting JZ. He hits hard and has great submissions.  I’m excited to be fighting tough competition and testing myself, making another run at this MMA thing.”

“I don’t try and focus on what my opponents are going to do.  I’m planning on taking the fight hard to him and focusing on my training.”

MMA Goals

“I’m just trying to build quality relationships.  I only have myself to blame for not building great relationships with the UFC people.  I understand business and I wasn’t winning, so it made sense that they cut me.  Ray Sefo and I trained together at Extreme Couture, so we know each other very well.  If I build good relationships at WSOF I’m not going to jump ship on them, just for the chance to make more money.  Currently, it’s 1 day, 1 fight, and 1 camp at a time.  Thus far, they have done everything that a good organization should do.  Right now, I am fighting for WSOF and I want to help them grow as much as they are helping to promote me.”

Training at AKA

“Camps are really about personalities and I feel I fit in very well at AKA.  What surprised me about AKA are all of the lower level guys there who are really tough and skilled.  It is a complete team there.  I’m getting some of the best training that I’ve gotten in a long time.  My training was always good before (at Extreme Couture), but what we were lacking was all of those no named guys who were so tough and skilled.”

Fighting at 145

“I don’t think 145 was a good fit for me.  I didn’t feel healthy, comfortable, or safe at that weight.  The possibility of fighting Aldo, trying to getting more exposure, and basically being stubborn; I was trying to use those things as motivation.  I ended up breaking my body down and got really sick.  Cutting weight while being sick for my fight with Bart Palaszewski was miserable.  Getting cut from the UFC after that really hurt me mentally and I went into a little depression.  I took some time off from the sport and just tried enjoying life again.  Little by little, I got back into it and started having fun again.”

Injuries in MMA

“Times are changing.  When I first got in the UFC, you didn’t have a choice to pull out of a fight; because there weren’t as many UFC’s as there are today.  Fighters who committed to a fight would compete whether they are injured or not, because they didn’t know when their next chance could be.  I took the Sherk fight and couldn’t use my right had for 2 days before it.  I had committed to fighting Sean Sherk and had expected being paid on a certain day, so pulling out wasn’t even an option.”

“At the end of the day, you could take a shin to the head and never be the same again.  Fighting for another organization is not the worst thing that could happen.  We can all make money somewhere.  Sure, the UFC is the top organization with the most exposure.  However, if you aren’t a top guy or a belt holder you aren’t going to make all of the big dollars anyway.  So, does killing yourself in training REALLY matter?”

You had a 3 fight losing skid in 2010 where your fights were all very close together.  Was taking those in such a short time financially motivated?

“I was frustrated about losing and wanted to get back to competition.  I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of getting a win.  Luckily I worked myself up and was on that top tier of fighter pay, so it wasn’t an issue.  Right now I am suffering financially more than I ever have.  I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been, because I’m not putting that pressure on myself.”

How’d you go from being signed to the RFA, to being signed by WSOF?

“The long and short of it was: I was on the higher end of fighter contracts in the RFA and for them to turn a profit on the shows would be difficult with my pay.  They were great about letting me go to fight on a show that could afford to have me fight and fight often. They were good people and did right by me.  I really appreciate the class the RFA guys showed me.”


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