Confident Griffin eager for challenge

PHILADELPHIA — Anderson Silva has looked almost invincible in winning each of his nine appearances in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

That doesn’t stop Forrest Griffin from believing he can beat Silva in a light heavyweight bout on the UFC 101 card at the Wachovia Center on Saturday night.

Griffin thinks that confidence is something that has been missing from the mindset of Silva’s previous opponents.

“You can see the look on a guy’s face” that they don’t want to fight Silva, Griffin said. “I want to be in there with him. Guys when they fight Anderson Silva, they get so frustrated. They can’t hit him. He’s so quick and so talented that by the second round you’re almost looking for a way out.”

Silva’s past two opponents have been hesitant to go after the Brazilian, leading to two somewhat boring victories for Silva after what essentially were seven straight highlight-reel finishes.

Griffin, a former light heavyweight champion, says his approach will be much different.

“What Anderson Silva needs is to be pushed, and I’m certainly the guy to do that. I’m (going to) fight hard, and I’m (going to) fight smart. I’m not (going to) pitter-patter. I’m not (going to) run. I’m going to fight,” Griffin said. “Am I the guy to beat Anderson Silva? Why not? Somebody’s (got to) do it. It might as well be me.”

Griffin, a 30-year-old Las Vegan, is no stranger to fighting top-notch competition in the UFC.

He has wins over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Griffin has lost to Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz.

With all that big-fight experience, Griffin says Silva will not intimidate him.

“He’s got that right now,” Griffin said of Silva’s aura of invincibility. “Chuck Liddell had that. Guys have that aura. What I’m saying is, you’ve got to beat me in a fight. You can’t beat me with your aura.”

Silva, the middleweight champion, will be coming up to Griffin’s 205-pound weight class for the bout. Griffin, however, says his size will not be much of an advantage because of his style.

“If I was a better wrestler, I’d take him down and use my weight on him,” Griffin said. “If I was a good wrestler that would be a great idea, but I’m not such a hot wrestler.”

Griffin often utters those kinds of self-deprecating one-liners. It’s part of what has made him known as one of the sport’s more entertaining personalities. In fact, Griffin penned a humorous book that was published in early June. “Got Fight?” is on the New York Times best-seller list.

Griffin offered up a joke while making the point that mixed martial arts is such an unpredictable sport that sustained winning streaks are rare and destined to end.

“Somebody’s got to beat him, right?” Griffin said. “He might break an ankle on the way to the cage, you never know.”

If Griffin wins, he will be overcoming long odds. Silva is about a 30-1 favorite, a number with which Griffin agrees.

“When you look at the pound-for-pound (rankings) and he’s No. 1, I’m buying it. I’m a believer,” Griffin said, adding he enjoys the underdog role. “I eschew pressure at every turn. I don’t even know how that stuff works, but I want to be plus-9,000 or whatever. I don’t care.”

He does care about eventually winning his title back but would not say if he thought a victory Saturday would put him in position to challenge for the belt he lost last year just one fight after winning it.

“Some guy was talking about a cart and a horse. I’ve never had a cart or a horse, so I really don’t know which would go first,” he said. “(I’m) fighting the best guy in the world, period.”

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@ or 702-224-5509.

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