Weekly Q&A

UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin puts a strong face on water conservation

Photo: Matt Sayles

Forrest Griffin retired from fighting more than two years ago, but he’s stayed active in the UFC. The 36-year-old Hall of Famer and former light heavyweight champion transitioned immediately into a position coordinating charitable efforts for the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion. And one of his biggest annual events comes this weekend with One Drop’s Walk for Water.

Griffin serves as a co-chair for the three-mile walk stretching from the Smith Center to the Springs Preserve. It was created to enhance awareness of the daily struggle endured by millions to obtain clean water. Food, music, raffles and carnival games await participants at the end of the trek. We caught up with Griffin to talk about Cirque aerobics, timed showers and life after the octagon.

You’re a four-year veteran of the Walk for Water. What keeps you involved? It’s a nice little walk, and we make it fun. We’ll meet up, and I’ll take us through some aerobics maybe. I’m on a team this year. I don’t know how you can be on a walking team, but I am. ... It’s not a UFC team either. It’s my friends’ team. It’s a Paleo team—like the diet, which I don’t even do anymore, but I still hang out with those people. They’re probably still on the diet, but who knows?

And where do the aerobics come from? Well, you’ve got the Cirque du Soleil people, and they are committed to that sort of thing. It’s cool to see what they’re able to do. It’s like, “Yeah, people shouldn’t be able to do that, and I don’t understand how they can.”

Were you aware of global water issues before working with One Drop? I had no idea what a large issue this was all around the world. You talk to people, and they don’t understand our water. They come and turn on a tap and drink clean water, and to them, that’s amazing. Millions of people around the world have to carry water miles and miles, and that’s all they have. It’s hard for fat Americans like myself to even understand that.

Any conservation tips? They give out three-minute timers for your showers, but I have to cheat. Three minutes is not enough time for me to wash this giant body of mine, so I have to do it twice. I can get it done in six minutes.

You’re two years into your charities role with the UFC. How has it gone? It’s been great and keeping me busy. We’re actually completely restructuring right now. We’ve always done charity stuff very piecemeal, but this is the first time we’re putting together a corporate responsibility program. It’s just a more specific way to do it, because a plan is always good.

Is that something you pushed for? Not at all, but I’m very excited for what we’re going to be able to do. It’s good for us because people in general don’t know the other side of fighting in the octagon. You see people punching and kicking and wonder, “Are those good people?” It turns out they are. The NFL has done a great job of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, and we’re looking to do things like that—not necessarily breast cancer but with water and all manners of charity.

How much do you miss fighting? I miss the training a lot. That was really fun for me. I had a team, so I never had to worry about what I was going to do. I was going to get up and train on something, work to get better as a fighter. I’m someone who needs goals and direction, and fighting provided that for me.

Don’t you still train? I’m hesitant to even call what I’m doing training, but I work out a bit. I try to do a little something every day.

We’re fresh off a fight for the title you once held. What did you think of Daniel Cormier’s win over Alexander Gustafsson in UFC 192? It was either the best or second-best 205-pound title fight ever [next to Jon Jones’ 2013 win over Gustafsson], with Gustafsson being the bridesmaid in both of them. They were both great, and I was happy to see it, because the division doesn’t have the depth it once did.

Jon Jones looks set to come off of his indefinite suspension for his hit-and-run incident and challenge Cormier for the title. Does that rematch interest you? Of course, because you never know what Jon Jones is going to be like when he comes back. We always think of him as so young, because he was the champion at 23 years old, but [at 28] he’s getting close to an age where not training for a year and not living an active lifestyle will contribute to your demise. Time will catch Jon if his own behavior doesn’t. He’s a good guy at heart, but he needs to do what he can do now, because he won’t be able to do it tomorrow. I don’t think guys that have done what he’s done at such a young age realize that physical ability won’t always be there.

When did that realization happen for you? I remember being 32 years old and feeling great, better than ever physically. Then at 33, I tore my shoulder and was out for eight months, and it was like I fell off a cliff. I was never the same.

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