Chad Griggs doesn't need anyone to spell it out for him. He knows what's going through the minds of both MMA fans and Strikeforce officials. He knows why he was offered the fight with Bobby Lashley at the August 21 Strikeforce event in Houston.
"Everybody's counting on me losing," Griggs (8-1) told MMA Fighting. "That's great. I'm the underdog. They've blown Bobby Lashley up into this huge, unbeatable superstar. He's very big, very strong, he's going to be explosive. But I think he's been blown up into a little more than he is just yet."
Griggs, whose last fight was in April of 2009, said he was planning a move down to light heavyweight and hoping for a fight on the August 13 Strikeforce: Challengers show after taking almost a year and a half off from active competition.
But while cornering friend and training partner Mike Whitehead at an event in Michigan earlier this month, he got the call telling him that his services were still being requested at heavyweight, and against a pretty big heavyweight at that.
"At first it made me laugh because I was planning on going down to 205. That's been my plan for a while, but obviously this is a big fight and I couldn't turn it down. It just made me laugh because here I was trying to go down in weight, and this guy's a monster who has to cut to 265. But that's okay. I've fought big guys before. He's a big name, and very beatable."
When assessing the former pro wrestlers strengths and weaknesses, Griggs points to Lashley's size and inexperience, adding that his goal is to wear Lashley out and take him into the later rounds.
"With Bobby, you're not going to get an armbar," Griggs said. "I think you're going to have to hit him in the head a few times, get him down, get him tired, and maybe get a choke on the big old broad neck of his."
Of course, Griggs doesn't think that his employers would be quite as thrilled about that outcome as he would be.
"I think it's obvious. It's very important for [Strikeforce] for Bobby Lashley to win, not me. I mean, let's talk reality. He's one of their golden children that they're counting on," he said. "Obviously Strikeforce doesn't want me to win, but hey, they gave me the chance and now they've got to pay the consequences. I don't care how big and strong you are, everybody's got a chin. Everybody can get rocked. But yeah, I think Strikeforce has a lot of money invested in the guy. He's got everything to lose. I've got everything to gain."
For the affable firefighter from Tucson, Ariz., the fight with Lashley isn't just a chance to get on the main card of a major event, it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put himself on the map and take his career to the next level. Whether his employers or MMA insiders like his odds or not, it comforts him to know that it won't matter when the cage door slams shut.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity, and thankful to Strikeforce for it. I know they're getting a lot of pressure from people for Bobby to fight someone tough, but they don't have any control once we're in there. They can want all they want, but the outcome is going to be what it's going to be. And afterwards I can laugh, because I'm sure I'm getting paid about 5% of what he is. ...That's all right. I have a pretty good attitude. All you can do is laugh a little and go ahead."