Three years ago, Forrest Griffin fought Stephan Bonnar in what is widely regarded as the most significant fight in mixed martial arts history. On Saturday night, Griffin was part of another significant fight, wresting the UFC light heavyweight championship away from Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
It won’t shift the course of the sport the way that the inaugural Ultimate Fighter Finale did, but Griffin’s title win does shine a glaring spotlight on the impact of the reality series.
Following Griffin’s title winning performance on Saturday night, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White held court and went deep into the tectonic shift The Ultimate Fighter has had on what is now the fastest growing sport in the world.
“It is one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to mixed martial arts,” he stated. “The people that are on the inside know. Young, up-and-coming talent can’t wait to get on that show. And the talent that’s coming out of that show… if you look at half the guys that are on our cards, they’re coming from this show.”
Not only does the show sling talent into the Octagon, White says it puts the development of that talent on fast forward. “The fact of the matter is, the guys that are on the show are on a certain level, and when they come off they’re at a whole other level.”
Forrest Griffin is White’s quintessential example.
“This whole week I’ve been telling everybody this guy is the American Dream. He was going to quit mixed martial arts. He was going to do the white picket fence, become the cop in Georgia. He didn’t fly out like he was supposed to. We had to get on the phone and talk him in. All the things that happened, he gets cut in that fight against (Alex) Schoenauer. He wins the fight easily, but gets cut bad,” White recounted.
“If we didn’t have Dr. (Gregory) Shu – the guy we used to stitch guys up – Forrest Griffin would have never fought that fight. So if it wasn’t for him, Forrest would have never fought Stephan Bonnar in the finale. And I swear to God, I don’t know if we’d be sitting here talking right now if that fight didn’t happen.”Link