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Forrest Griffin 'A Little More Nervous Than Usual' for Rich Franklin Fight

Forrest Griffin has had his fair share of the spotlight and big moments. He's been UFC light heavyweight champion, and faced some of the heaviest hitters in MMA, including Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Anderson Silva. But for his upcoming UFC 126 fight with Rich Franklin, Griffin admits his nerves are likely to be a little bit more on edge than normal. That's because Griffin will be putting his body to the test for the first time since Nov. 2009.

Returning from long-needed shoulder surgery, Griffin will come back against an opponent who is coming off an injury timeout of his own. Franklin will be making his first start back from a broken arm.

"For me, being off for a year, that's huge," Griffin said in a Thursday teleconference. "It's a weird feeling, I'm a little more nervous than usual. During this year I've had spurts of really good training when I thought I was going to fight. The big thing is going to be that first minute, and making that adjustment, getting back in there. This is the longest break I've had in fighting since 2000, so it's weird."

Officially, Griffin had a longer break between his last non-UFC fight and his debut in the finals of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, but that's only because the fights during the reality show's taping do not count as official bouts. Aside from that, the longest layoff of his career had been just short of 10 months between beating Rua and then defeating Jackson for the championship. Ironically, that layoff was also due to a shoulder surgery.

Griffin (17-6) has a reputation as a gym rat due to the long hours of training he puts in, and though he sees the potential benefits of time away from training, he was forced out of the gym for much longer than he's comfortable with. His troubles were compounded by a false start; eight weeks after surgery he began workouts, only to realize he wasn't quite yet ready to put his body through what he would demand of it. That forced him back to the sidelines for another three weeks off.

"It sucks," he said. "It's nice to get to do other things and not really worry about fighting. It's mentally refreshing. But physically, a good break every now and then is great for your body. But it was too long. Too long without competing. I don't know. This is the most ring rust I've ever had. I'm not excited about it. I'm definitely going to fight more."

Shoulder problem have unfortunately affected Griffin for years. The first such injury was originally suffered in 2006 and first addressed in 2007 with surgery. There is some concern the problem could recur, but Griffin won't know for sure how it will respond until he and Franklin get down to business.

He said that during his time away, the only time his absence really bothered him was during fight weekends, when others competing and thought to himself, "I should be doing that," but it's only made him more excited about getting back in the octagon, or as he says, "just that feeling of being home."

As for facing the former middleweight champ, Griffin thinks the bout has the makings of a classic.

"If you look at the way Rich fights and you look at the way I fight, all the ingredients for a great fight are there," he said. "So, you just hope it comes together and it's the fight you think it can be."

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