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Griffin vs. Evans: Whose heart is greater?

Every now and then, you hear a fighter quote that causes you to simply nod. Back in the May 2008 issue of Fight! Magazine, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Forrest Griffin came up with one of them.

"Renzo Gracie's mentality is that no man is gonna break him in fifteen or twenty minutes," he said. "That works for me."

It works for him because it encapsulates what Griffin has been about during his MMA career. From his TUF 1 war with Stephan Bonnar to the way that he's come through in an underdog role against the likes of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Griffin has always displayed tremendous heart and a never say die attitude since we all first got the chance to see him first hand on television.

The thing is that Griffin's soon-to-be UFC 92 opponent, Rashad Evans, is from the same ilk, even if he isn't always given that kind of credit. Perhaps it's because Evans' fighting spirit wasn't as obvious early on. He initially didn't get along with Matt Hughes on the show, an MMA icon, which hurt people's opinion of him. Further, his early fights weren't always exciting.

But we were all missing the point at the time. Evans was the shortest and second lightest of all the TUF 2 heavyweights that started the show. Keyword: Heavyweight. In other words, Evans was taking on people way over his fighting weight, was the underdog in each of wins over Tom Murphy, Mike Whitehead, and Keith Jardine, and yet still kept on winning.

However, when he took on six-foot-seven, Brad Imes in the finale and managed a split decision victory in a fight where both combatants were hurt on multiple occasions, people began to truly take notice. Sure, Evans was athletic, a good wrestler, and fast.

But he also fought with a lot of heart and desire.

Recently, Evans said that his, "worst moment (in fighting) is every time I get tired." Well, the reality is that he looked awful good against Imes when he was fatigued way back when. Perhaps it's a powerful motivator.

Of course, if you look up the discussions on this one, talk eventually turns to strategy. Forrest Griffin noted that Evans' camp, Jackson's Submission Fighting, "always come up with a real good strategy," for their fighters. He further noted that Evans' ability to train with Keith Jardine there, a man that had previously knocked him out, had to help in getting ready for their upcoming bout.

On the flip side, Evans noted all the right things about his adversary, saying, "ever since I came off the show (TUF) I've been trying to keep up with Forrest because he set the tone coming off the show. He did excellent, and I was like, 'I've got to show everybody I can do my thing as well'."

All sounds good, doesn't it? Technique, trying to model your fighting career after someone else?these are two fighters that don't talk much junk. There's no doubt that both of their camps?remember that Evans isn't the only guy with a good one, Griffin trains at Xtreme Couture?will allow them to come in with a great strategy. Further, both guys will bring some outstanding skills into this one.

But in the end, when Griffin takes on Evans at UFC 92, heart will go a long way toward settling things. Who wants it more?

"You know, whatever fight you're in always seems like the toughest fight you've ever had, you know?" says Griffin. Well, if the toughest ones are about fighting those with heart, then beating an undefeated fighter who is on a high after a terrific knockout victory over Chuck Liddell certainly will feel that way as well. As Quinton Jackson said, "Rashad will rise to the occasion." We all know Griffin will too.

You've got to wonder whom will be the last man standing.

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