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September 21, 2009

UFC 103 postfight: It was a big week for Griffin and Maynard

By Steve Cofield Yahoo Sports
Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:15 am EDT


Most MMA gyms take pride in the number of high level fighters they house, but inside the fighting community people take notice of how much fighters improve.That's why when Kit Cope took a shot at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas calling it Xtreme Fashion, insinuating that fighters don’t improve when they go there, the gym kind of banded together to fire back at the Muay Thai fighter/MTV star. This was a good week to debunk the myth that Xtreme Couture is just a collection of big names. It started off with Gray Maynard looking better than ever on his feet in running circles around Roger Huerta at Ultimate Fight Night 19. Then at UFC 103, Tyson Griffin’s versatility helped him break down and destroy Hermes Franca in less than nine minutes.

Griffin set up his second round finish by firing an inside leg kick on Franca’s lead leg and then immediately followed it with the straight right to the Brazilian’s grill that dropped him to his back. Griffin said that comes from his work with K-1 fighter Ray Sefo, who is one of the instructors and active fighters at the gym:

"It’s a good setup to close that distance" Griffin told Cagewriter that it was the same combination that Randy Couture used early in his comeback fight against Tim Sylvia at UFC 68.

The Dallas crowd was impatient all night, booing early in each fight if the combatants didn’t go at it immediately.
"I felt like I was a step ahead of him the entire time and picking him apart. You know the crowd’s going to boo because they want immediate action. I’m sure they were happy at the end."

UFC president Dana White admired Griffin’s approach in spite of the crowd’s impatience: .

"This was a rough crowd. [The fighters] didn’t even meet in the middle yet and they were booing. I know that puts a lot of pressure on the fighters. Tyson composed himself, took his time and broke [Franca] down, and did what nobody’s ever done before, and stopped Hermes Franca. He’s always an exciting fighter. Tyson looked awesome tonight."

White and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva are once again faced with the challenge of making fights when fighters, like Maynard and Griffin, come out of the same gym. Griffin said he won’t mind if Maynard gets a shot at UFC lightweight champ B.J. Penn before he does and will fight his teammate if he has to:

"If Gray got the title shot, I’d be happy for him. I’d help him train for it," said Griffin (14-2, 7-2 UFC).

"It’s kind of an unwritten rule that it happens [only] for a title. If it happens it happens."

He said trouble is on the way for Penn if he’s not working at his craft:

"I think B.J.’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters but he’s his own worst enemy [with his conditioning]. If he’s not on his game, he’s gonna get beat. It depends on who motivates him to fight and train."

Griffin did make sure to mention Cope’s little dig about the gym:

"I don’t like to talk [expletive], with all due respect who is Kit Cope to talk about anyone in MMA?"

We’re not sure who Cope was ripping for not improving but it’s certainly not Maynard or Griffin, who both came from a wrestling background, and may now be more dangerous on the feet than as grapplers.

 

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