Though it's been nearly 17 months since Forrest Griffin last fought, and seven months since he abruptly announced his retirement, Griffin is still finding ways to keep himself busy.
Griffin's newest venture has the 34-year-old former champion playing the role of advocate for ‘Protect Yourself At All Times' -- the UFC's new partnered campaign with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada -- with a goal of spreading HIV education and awareness among people under the age of 30.
"56,000 people (were infected) last year in America, and half of them were under 30," Griffin said to Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.
"We grew up in an era where there was a lot of fear of HIV. Everybody worried about it and everybody took precautions, and everybody knew that it was a thing that was out there. As it slowed down, it left the spotlight, people forgot.
"HIV is not a gay or straight disease," he continued. "It's a young people's disease, unfortunately. Our most valuable asset is our youth."
For Griffin, the campaign is the latest chapter of unexpectedly soon life of retirement, though he admits the hole left by the sport he competed in for over a decade has been tough to fill.
Throughout the course of his conversation with Helwani, Griffin elaborated the difficulty of adapting to life after fighting, issued a warning to young fighters who don't plan toward the future, spoke on the issues of MMA's scoring system, plus much more. Below are excerpts from the candid discussion.
ON THE FINALITY OF HIS RETIREMENT:
"I physically can't (come back). I didn't want to be done, in the beginning. When I announced my retirement, that was actually when I was trying to come back and I realized, it just wasn't viable. It passed me by. My shoulder is done. I brush my teeth with my left hand now. That's just the way it goes. I can't shoot a basketball, I can't throw any kind of ball. I was right handed. The last three years, I was kinda fighting with one arm, on and off. My training camp was, I don't want to call it Frank Mir style, but it was Frank Mir style. It's like, I'm going to work on whatever hurts the least today. What are we doing today? Well, what's not broken today? That's what we're going to do today."
ON WHETHER HE ENJOYS RETIREMENT:
"It's not what it was. If you asked me today what my dream job is, it'd be to be a UFC fighter. That's what I want to be when I grow up. Nothing will ever take that place.
"But it's just not physically possible. You have to move on with your life at some point. You don't quit fighting, fighting quits you at some point. It's very unfortunate, but that's the nature of the beast. And that's one of those things, too, that I like to tell young fighters. Have a backup plan. When you're walking into the cage, on that day, on that week, you're a world champion. You're Anderson Silva. You're going to retire from the UFC as a champion and have plenty of money. Fine. But when you get your check and you go to the bank, start to think like Forrest Griffin. What am I going to be doing in five years? Is it realistically going to be fighting? This is not a forever job. This is a young man's game, and at 36, I'm already done. Everybody thinks they're going to be Dan Henderson. You're not."
ON THE NEED TO PLAN FOR LIFE AFTER FIGHTING:
"I think if you've fought more than three fights in the UFC and you're not financially ahead, you're either doing something wrong or you just need to quit. Your first two fights, your first two camps, yeah, you're going to maybe even go into debt on those. But if you're had two or three wins and you're still not finding ways to get financially ahead, you might just do something else.
"Realistically, if you're doing it right, you should have time during a camp or during life to engage and learn another skillset. An occupational therapist, a physical therapist, an MRI tech. It'll never be as great as fighting, realistically. I wouldn't tell somebody who's 22, hey, it's just as good of a job. Checking people into the hospital [instead of] fighting, it's going to feel the exact same. Nothing is going to feel like again. But it's going to feel better than looking around and wondering, okay, what do I do now?"
ADVICE FOR TUF PROSPECTS:
"This is the first time you've ever had in your life to concentrate your efforts into being a fighter. Make sure you take it professionally, make sure you take it serious. The six weeks in the house sucks, but that's a good guideline for what a proper training camp should feel like. That's what I always thought about.
"And the other thing would be the advice I was just giving. Have your backup plan; five-year plan. You're going to fight for the next five or six years, but what are you going to do then? Have you developed a skill? Have you saved some money? Do you have an idea of what you're going to do? And have you started to work towards it?"
ON CHANGES FROM THE TUF 1 ERA:
"It's like from the 70's to the 90's in basketball.
"You look at the level of athleticism, the change. ... I used to have to go pay money at a seminar to learn that move. It was cloistered. The knowledge was a little bit hidden. Now it's kinda everywhere. It's very free. People are like, how do I train for a fight? Just watch the UFC, see a move, and then look that move up. We used to huddle around, five or six guys get together and buy a pay-per-view of Pride or something, and have to watch it at three in the morning or three in the afternoon. It's pretty funny. You always think the people today have it easier than you had it."
ON MMA JUDGING PROBLEMS:
"Did Johny Hendricks get screwed? Maybe a little bit, but it's not the worst thing I've ever seen in MMA. It's not a fixable problem, is what I'm saying. You're doing the best you can. ... It's just, there's so many flaws in the judging system. You can change the system, you can change the scoring system, you can make it like Pride where it's the totality of the fight -- whatever the hell that means -- but it's always going to be difficult.
"I'm not saying it works. I'm not saying it doesn't work. I'm just saying, I haven't seen, laid out, detail for detail, the better system. I'm still looking for it. Pride wasn't the better system. I haven't seen a better system in Europe, I haven't seen a better system in South Africa. You show me a better system and I'm willing to get onboard. But I just need to see that system before I abandon this one."
ON WHETHER EX-FIGHTERS SHOULD JUDGE FIGHTS:
"No, they shouldn't, because they're biased towards the way they fought. I'd be biased towards more active guys that maybe didn't have a lot of power, because I never had a lot of power. You have those main biases that you cannot strip away. ... I don't care who you are. Me and Matt Hughes are not going to see eye-to-eye if a kickboxer fights a wrestler.
"I just got to know [a few judges] recently, and they watch tapes. They've seen every fight. They've seen as many fights as you, and more fights than me. So that's how you learn. You learn just by watching. You don't have to do it."
"Here's the deal, I'll judge the fights. I'll judge all the fights. Here's what we're going to do: I'm going to take a video home, I'm going to study it... but I'm not going to tell you who the champion is until Sunday morning. I'm going to have to go home with a couple pots of coffee and watch the fight a couple times, and then I'll tell you who actually won.
"You'll get up (on Sunday), it'll be like Christmas presents. It'll be like you can't wait for Santa."