Forrest Griffin just as easily could be settling fights as competing in them.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship star spent a total of three years in two stints in law enforcement following his collegiate years at the University of Georgia.
During his training in law enforcement, Griffin discovered mixed martial arts. He spent two years as an officer, then quit to become a fighter, before again returning to police work.
In fact, he originally didn’t show up for his first opportunity with the UFC, choosing instead to remain home and work in his profession.
Now, he will fight Quinton "Rampage" Jackson for the light heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 86 at Mandalay Bay on Saturday.
Griffin originally was cast on the first season of the UFC’s reality show, "The Ultimate Fighter." On the day the fighters were scheduled to appear to begin filming, Griffin was nowhere to be found.
"He had it set in his mind that he was going to be a police officer in Georgia," UFC president Dana White said. "We terrorized him and pleaded with him to get him out here."
Griffin finally showed up, won the show and went on to become one of the world’s most popular fighters.
He says his old job wasn’t so bad, either.
"I was a sheriff’s deputy. I cruised around, answered domestic complaints, did a lot of traffic accidents, carried a weapon," he said. "I drove fast, got free coffee, and some chicks dig a guy in a uniform, so it wasn’t a bad gig."
As a fighter, Griffin has risen up the ranks in a few years. But as instrumental as the UFC has been in making him a star, he has been just as vital to the organization’s success.
Many consider his Season 1 title fight against Stephan Bonnar to be the most important fight in MMA history. It was the UFC’s first live event on cable television, and the fighters went back and forth through three rounds before Griffin won by decision.
White has said the UFC wouldn’t exist without Griffin’s thrilling win. Saturday’s fight represents an even bigger opportunity for Griffin.
"It’s the biggest thing in my life," he said. "It’s not a big thing in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me. I haven’t had a kid yet, so this is the biggest thing."
Since joining the UFC full time in 2005, Griffin has relocated to Las Vegas. He said it makes training easier because of the accessibility of gyms and training partners, and he added he is not worried about most of the temptations the city can offer a young celebrity.
"My temptation is cookies. It turns out there’s an Albertson’s near everywhere I move to. Everywhere I go, there’s going to be a 24-hour convenience store or grocery store, so my temptation’s stuck with me," he said. "I wish I had other addictions. It would be cooler."
Despite his proclivity to poor eating habits, or perhaps because of it, Griffin always has been known as a tireless worker in the gym. He says he might have tweaked his training a bit but that he has not trained harder for this title fight than his past bouts.
"Maybe I’ve trained a little smarter," he said. "I don’t really know how to train any harder and not die."
Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@ reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.