Like dominos in a row, 22-year-old Tyson Griffin (6-0) has marched through every opponent to dateLike dominos in a row, 22-year-old Tyson Griffin (6-0) has marched through every opponent to date, including well-known MMA fighter, Urijah Faber, the only man lasting more than one round. On June 9th he will step into the squared circle at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, with ring-wise veteran, Duane “Bang” Ludwig (13-4). The big question is; can Ludwig survive the punishment dished out by The California Killer, Tyson Griffin.
Rick Caudle: What is your mind-set at this point in your career? Tyson Griffin: Win or lose, this fight is a stepping-stone for my career. I want to be able to make a living as a fighter and these are the kind of matches I need to make that happen.
Rick Caudle: There are some extremely big names on this card, are you excited about participating in this event and being involved with STRIKEFORCE?
Tyson Griffin: Definitely! So far the biggest crowd I have fought in front of has been 5,000 people. I know at this one there will be over 10,000 spectators. I went to the last show to watch, so fighting in this one should be a lot of fun.
Rick Caudle: Duane Ludwig was a kickboxer first, and then trained in grappling and eventually transitioned into MMA, are you a grappler who has transitioned into a striker or have you always been a well-rounded fighter?
Tyson Griffin: Yes, I am a grappler first but I have really been working hard on my standup game as well. I challenge myself constantly to learn new things and to get better and better at everything.
Rick Caudle: The most recognized name you have fought so far has been Urijah Faber and you handed him his only loss. What was your strategy going into that fight?
Tyson Griffin: My strategy doesn’t change for a particular fight, it is always the same. I just get in there and fight! I went into that one ready to go to war. His wrestling was ok but I don’t think he was as good on the ground as I am, obviously.
Rick Caudle: I know you wrestled in high school and college, have you always been an athlete?
Tyson Griffin: I have always been into sports. I have done everything from bowling to ice hockey. I played baseball until I was 20. That is why I fell in love with MMA. I am a competitor and I love to compete. I love a challenge and like Randy Couture says, “It is the most fun you can have without going to jail”.
Rick Caudle: What do you do before a fight to psyche yourself up?
Tyson Griffin: Actually, I try to relax before a fight as much as possible. I zone in and go into tunnel vision mode. When the feeling of getting amped hits me about 30 minutes before a fight, I put on some music and kick back to bring my heart rate down. If I get too calm, my trainers will slap me around, ha ha!
Rick Caudle: Just a few weeks ago, Duane won his fight due to a submission by armbar; do you think he can match your ground and pound skills?
Tyson Griffin: I hear he is a pretty good ground fighter. With Bas Rutten as a coach, I’m sure he is very confident on the ground. He will have a hard time keeping up with me though. I train with a lot of great grapplers myself. I work no-gi techniques with all the great fighters from the Cesar Gracie Camp and people like Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, and Gilbert Melendez. If I can hang with submissions from my good buddy David Terrell, I know I can hang with Duane Ludwig.
Rick Caudle: Give us some insight into your training regiment? What is an average day like for you?
Tyson Griffin: I start training early in the morning. I eat well and then I run about 9am. After that, I do submissions, boxing and kickboxing for a few hours. Then I come back, eat again, and then relax for a while. In the afternoon, I go back to the gym and spar for at least six rounds or more. Then in the evening I will train Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and do tons of cardio. I squeeze in a lot of training everyday.
Rick Caudle: They say that styles make good matches, what would you say is your style?
Tyson Griffin: Ground and Pound all the way! All of my fights end up on the ground but this is not a Jiu-jitsu tournament, it is a fight! I can fight standing up as well. I fought a Muay Thai guy last year and it was no problem. It really doesn’t matter if we standup or go to the ground, I like it all. I have no fear either way. It’s all fun to me.
Rick Caudle: You are still a young man at 22 years old, what it is the future for Tyson Griffin when it comes to MMA? Who would you like to fight next?
Tyson Griffin: There is really no particular name that stands out. I don’t take fights personal. I like stiff competition so hopefully I can keep fighting big name competitors. Nothing is as boring as training to fight some chump. I want to be able to make a good living as a fighter and the only way to do that is to keep climbing up the ladder. So bigger names, bigger shows, and hopefully, I can fight some guys from other countries. My manager, Tom Call, has taken his time getting me here. He has held me back and made me wait until the time was right. I am very thankful for that.
Rick Caudle: Since only one of your previous fights has lasted more than one round, we have yet to really see your stand-up abilities; do you feel you have the skills to duke it out, face to face with Duane if this fight doesn’t go to the ground?
Tyson Griffin: Most definitely I have the skill. We will be wearing 4oz gloves, so whoever gets in the best shots is going to win. I have had some excellent striking coaches and they have really helped my standup game. I got to work with a phenomenal Muay Thai fighter from Siberia named Dmitri Ushankov. He is the real deal and gave me a lot of great training. Plus, my boxing coach, Rosendo Sanchez, has made lots of sacrifices for me. He comes out in the evening and has put in a lot of hours to help me get ready for this fight. I really appreciate him too.
Rick Caudle: Is there one particular grappling style that you draw from for your ground game, BJJ or Greco-Roman Wrestling, etc.?
Tyson Griffin: I have wrestled a lot which is valuable for takedowns, but of course, my submission and grappling experience is from training in BJJ.
Rick Caudle: What do you feel is your greatest asset?
Tyson Griffin: My greatest asset is my conditioning and the way I fight. I bring it in fast-paced and hard-hitting. I bring in the heat and it is up to my opponent to decide if he can stay in the kitchen. If I can beat him quickly, I will, and we can all go home early. I am very hard to keep up with.
Rick Caudle: When it comes to MMA, who are your biggest influences?
Tyson Griffin: All of my heroes are the guys in my camp. There are lots of great fighters out there and the list would be too long to name. I am just lucky to be getting into the sport now when the money is getting good enough to make a living at it. I keep pushing myself to be the best at all times.
Rick Caudle: Who would you like to thank for helping you prepare for this event?
Tyson Griffin: A special thanks to my manager Tom Call, my trainers Rosendo Sanchez and David Terrell, everyone at Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance, the Cesar Gracie Camp, and to Billy Olson for letting us use his house while I train in Vegas. I want to thank my sponsors, Consolidated Capital, Ground N Pound Fight Gear, and North Bay Firearms. Also the folks at Xyience and especially my doctor, Gary Furness for taking good care of my body!
Rick Caudle: Thanks a lot for the interview Tyson; I wish you the best of luck on June 9th!
Tyson Griffin: My pleasure Rick, thanks for taking the time to talk with me.