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Interview: Tucson-Based Chad Griggs Faces Uphill Battle Against Bobby Lashley

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Chad Griggs, a firefighter from Tucson, is 8-1 in his professional MMA career, but he's still very much the underdog when he faces wrestling star Bobby Lashley on Saturday night at Strikeforce Houston. Griggs called from Houston to talk about his match-up.

Talk around MMA circles is that Griggs is being set up to fail against the much better-known Lashley.

Griggs agreed, "I've just got to go with the punches and ignore all that. You're right. Everybody, including Strikeforce, is planning on him winning. They need him to win to keep their investment going. It's not bothering me. If anything, it takes the pressure off me to get in there and go do my thing. Once we get in there, there isn't anybody but me and him in there, so it doesn't matter what they think or what they're saying."

With all the pressure on his opponent, Griggs is supremely confident he can score the upset.

"Absolutely. Absolutely. Of course, I absolutely do. I expect nothing less going into it," Griggs said about his belief that he can win.

"I think I have a lot more experience when it comes in to the fight. I think his name is bigger, but when it comes down to it, I don't know if he's been hit in the face. He's wrestled people down and beats them up, so I don't really know if he's tasted fighting yet. That's our goal is to get in there and let him realize this is a fight and I'm here to win, too."

Griggs says he will fight at about 230 pounds and thinks Lashley will be around 260 or 265 pounds. Lashley (6-foot-3) is taller than Griggs (6-foot-1). Chad thinks Lashley has a few inches reach, as well, but isn't worried about that since he doesn't expect the former amateur and pro wrestler to be throwing very many punches.

"Our thought going into this one is he's a four-time national champion wrestler. He's bigger, stronger, an explosive guy. Our goal here is to just get back up," Griggs said about his game-plan going in.

"We worked on some takedown defense and some stuff that we think is going to have to make him work harder to get those takedowns. Ultimately, I think we're going to end up getting taken down a couple of times and so we spent a lot of time on my back just finding those holes and getting back up on my feet. Make him burn that energy and blow that energy getting me down and then hopefully get right back up and have him spent that energy for nothing."

Griggs, like most smaller fighters, is hoping to use Lashley's size against him, "He's carrying a lot of muscle and it's going to take a lot of oxygen to keep that muscle alive, so I think the farther we get into the fight the more it's going to be my fight."

The keys for Griggs Saturday, as he said, is to keep the fight off the ground and make the bigger Lashley expend his energy and wear down.

Good luck to Chad, he's going to need it.

The fight will be live on Showtime on Saturday, August 21st, at 10:00 p.m. EST.

For more coverage be sure to visit Bloody Elbow's Srikeforce: Houston section and SB Nation's MMA page.

Information provided by Strikeforce

Chad Griggs bio information:

Height: 6'1"                   Fighting Weight: 235 lbs.          Walk-Around Weight:     235 lbs.       

Birth Date: May 15, 1978           Age: 32

Born, Resides and fights out of: Tucson, AZ 

MMA Record: 8-1                      Wins: 7 (T)KOs; 1 sub;  Losses: 1 subs

Fight Team: Apex MMA/Fight Legion                 Fighting Style: Freestyle 

Head Trainers: Mike Whitehead (MMA), Joey Rivera (MMA)

Bio:  Like many fighters, Chad Griggs watched MMA growing up but not many get the opportunity to train with a current fighter.  A police officer friend of Chad's invited him to the gym where Don Frye was training for an upcoming fight.  Chad trained with him and figured if he could hold his own with Frye that he should give it a shot and debuted in 2004.

Frye ended up being Chad's coach in the IFL where he had a 1-1 record.  Despite being in the sport for over 6 years, Chad only has 9 fights mainly because of his family and his other career as a firefighter and paramedic.  While many bring up the inherent contradiction in Chad's two careers; one where he helps injured people and one where he attempts to injure people, Chad says that inside the cage he knows that "it's either him or me" and that he can't show any mercy because his opponent won't.  Griggs actually brings up many similarities in the two jobs because you "always have to be ready to react", you "never know what to expect" and you have to be ready to do under pressure what you have repeatedly trained to do.

Griggs is very humble about his day job even though he has saved many lives; he says it goes with the territory.  Even though he thinks that Strikeforce ultimately wants a good show with Lashley coming out on top, he plans on being the spoiler.  He isn't caught up in Lashley's past as a pro wrestler because he hasn't watched wrestling since the Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant days.  He thinks of Lashley as a great athlete above anything else.

Bobby Lashley bio information:

Height: 6'3"       Fighting Weight: 250 lbs.          Walk-Around Weight: 255-260 lbs.            

Birth Date: July 16, 1976           Age: 34

Born: Fort Bragg, NC (raised in Junction City, KS)          Resides: Aurora, Colorado         

 MMA Record: 5-0          Wins: 2 TKOs; 2 subs.; and 1 dec.        Fight Team: American Top Team Altitude

Head Trainer: Andy Fong (Standup) Still considers Ricardo Liborio his mentor but did not work with him for this fight

Fighting Style: Wrestling/Freestyle                       

Bio:  After a successful high school wrestling career, Bobby Lashley transferred to Missouri Valley College, where he won three national amateur wrestling championships between the years of 1996 and 1998. While at Missouri Valley, he would go on to become the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Wrestling Champion at 184 pounds in 1997 and 1998.

After graduating from Missouri Valley College in 1999 with a degree in Business Management, Lashley joined the United States Army, where became a two-time Armed Forces Wrestling Champion, as well as earning the silver medal at the 2002 CISM World Military Championships at 211 lbs.

While training for the Olympics in 2003, Bobby was in a bank while it was being robbed.  He was shot at and while diving for the floor, he injured his right knee.  He needed surgery which ended his amateur wrestling career.

Lashley signed a developmental contract with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) in 2004 and made his professional debut for the organization in 2005.  Bobby was successful in the WWE and in 2007 was in a headline match at WrestleMania 23 in Detroit before 80,000 fans with Donald Trump in his corner.  The event had approximately 1.2 million PPV buys.  Despite a strong future in wrestling, Bobby began training in MMA and says he was thinking about making the switch even before Brock Lesnar showed that a pro wrestler could succeed in mixed martial arts.  He does not regret his pro wrestling days because he loved to travel around the world but wanted to get into MMA because he missed the competition.  Lashley trained at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida in 2008, and made his professional fighting debut in December of that same year. Bobby won three bouts in 2009, bringing his record up to an undefeated 4-0 before signing with Strikeforce.  He says the transition from amateur wrestling has not been difficult and he is very comfortable on his back trying for submissions or sweeps.

Lashley also wrestled for TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling but hasn't done so since early this year to focus on his MMA career).

And for local MMA events, check this: blogs - Tapped In - odomingo - MMA: WEC hosting viewing party for tonight's WEC 50 and results of online poll for December event
The WEC is hosting a viewing party in Phoenix: To celebrate Phoenix being one of the top three cities left in AMP Energy's Hometown Takedown promotion, Phoenix native and WEC fighter Jamie Varner will host a celebration starting at 6:30 p.m. MST on Wednesday, August 18, (TONIGHT) at Upper Deck Sports Bar and Grill (4224 North Craftsman Court, Scottsdale, Ariz. 85251) to get the city pumped about potentially hosting a December WEC fight. The winning city will be announced live during WEC 50 on Versus (7 p.m. MST), which fans can watch at the party. There is no cost to attend the event.