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Healing from Broken Foot, Forrest Griffin Prepares for Title Climb

Still self-deprecating despite a resume that boasts a UFC championship reign and New York Times bestseller status, Forrest Griffin readily admits that his recent win over Rich Franklin was no thing of beauty.

Griffin outpointed Franklin during the UFC 126 co-main event, using his size advantage to put Franklin on his back and work him over from the top position. For a guy who first gained his fame as a heart-on-his-sleeve brawler, it showed his continued maturity as a fighter, if not his willingness to risk losing for being a crowd-pleaser.

"It's a win, and at that point I was thinking, 'I'll take anything I can get,'" Griffin told MMA Fighting in an exclusive interview.

The physical nature of MMA is such that despite a conservative game plan, Griffin did not emerge unscathed. The popular light-heavyweight broke his right foot during the bout, the second time he's broken it in the last two years. He previously injured it in training for his Nov. 2009 bout with Tito Ortiz, but fought anyway and won.

This time, he's planning to take the time to let it heal.

"I don't have a target date [for returning] in mind," he said. "I just want to get healthy, to get in the gym and enjoy training, have some fun, and when I'm ready, I'm ready.

"Right now, I can't jump rope or run," he continued. "I tried grappling [last week] but it was a bad idea. I wasn't ready. Just pushing off with it hurt."

Griffin is currently wearing a boot on the foot, and says he plans to keep his weight down to make his comeback as easy as possible.

He's scheduled for a bit of vacation along with a trip to Australia, and hopes to get back to workouts when he returns on March 16. Because he has no target for getting back to competitive action, Griffin declines to name any potential opponents for his next time out, saying, "I don't want to call anyone out. If they beat me up or knock me out, it makes me look bad."

Last week, though, Griffin nearly ignited the next chapter of his ongoing rivalry with Tito Ortiz on Twitter when he wrote: "I am the new Tito, b---- about injuries after everyfight (sic) win or lose, hold guys down as much as possible, never finish a fight. checkallboxs (sic)."

Ortiz quickly shot back with a series of tweets, which included, "Never defended a world title!, been KTFO!, runs out the cage like a b----! Check all the above!"

The two have fought twice with each winning once, but Griffin said he had no intention of sparking anything up with his post.

"I meant it as a joke," he said. "I think I'm the only person or maybe the only fighter on Twitter who is actually trying to funny about stuff. I would never talk s--- to a guy with a fight coming up. Never. But the truth is the truth. It's the pot calling the kettle. Don't worry about me, Tito. Just handle your business."

Within a day though, Ortiz was forced out of his bout with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

A third bout with Ortiz could one day be a possibility but that doesn't seem likely anytime soon, given the fact that Griffin has won two in a row while Ortiz is mired in a career-worst stretch: winless in five straight fights.

Griffin's sights are set a little higher. Having worn gold once before, Griffin -- now 31 years old -- hopes to progress towards another opportunity to fight for the belt again.

"I want to make a run in that direction, stack a couple wins together and let's see what happens," he said. "The mountain is tall. It's huge. I mean, look at the guys in the division. Lots of good guys. There's really no alternative. What are you going to do? Take a pay cut and fight lesser names? Might as well fight these good guys and see what happens."

With that said, he's interested in the upcoming UFC 128 title fight pitting champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua against challenger Jon Jones. Though he won't make a prediction, Griffin said that like everyone else, he's been impressed to watch Jones' quick progression.

"He's the real deal," he said. "Look at it this way. This is how I look at it as a fighter. Do you see a line of guys asking to face him? Are there people lining up to fight Jon Jones? I don't see anyone raising their hand. That's my opinion. I'm not the only one who's looking to find a flaw in him, but he's the real deal."

So Griffin has his agenda set: healing, training, and continuing his own move towards title contention. With so much going on and so much already accomplished, he says he doesn't stop to think about how far he's come and how his world has changed. His eyes are focused on what's happening right now.

"Here's the deal: the extraordinary becomes ordinary really quickly," he said. "One minute, everything is new and amazing, the next it's expected. I guess for other people, I can equate it to having a kid. Before it, you can't fathom how different life can be, but once it happens, it's your new reality, and that becomes your normal life. Winning the championship, I remember back in 2000, I thought, 'Wouldn't that be cool?' and it happened years later. And now I'm here, and there's lots of guys who want that belt, so you've got to move up that mountain. And there's plenty of good fights as we move up the mountain."

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