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UFC’s Tyson Griffin may get familiar face in next fight

Teammate Gray Maynard’s big win at UFC Fight Night 19 could set up showdown between Xtreme Couture stars

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Vernon Bryant / Dallas Morning News

Tyson Griffin (red) hits Hermes Franca (blue) at UFC 103 at American Airlines Center in Dallas tonight. Griffin defeated Franca.

UFC 103

Vitor Belfort (blue) takes a swing at Rich Franklin (red) during UFC 103 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Belfort defeated Franklin. Launch slideshow »

Rather than move a rung higher up the loaded lightweight ladder, Tyson Griffin’s first stoppage in eight tries in the Octagon might have actually landed him a future fight with a teammate.

“As far as fighting teammates, it's kind of an unwritten rule that it happens for titles," said Griffin, whose second-round TKO of Hermes Franca last Saturday at UFC 103 in Dallas may force a showdown with fellow Xtreme Couture 155-pounder Gray Maynard.

Much like Griffin, the undefeated Maynard, a former Michigan State wrestling standout, looked impressive in his split decision victory over Roger Huerta last week at UFC Fight Night in Oklahoma City.

Considering the two train with each other often at Xtreme Couture gym here in Las Vegas, Griffin said whether they have to tangle in the UFC or Maynard gets first dibs at B.J. Penn, he would be comfortable with either course of action.

"If Gray got the title shot, I'd be happy for him and I'd help him train for it. I'd train with him to win,” said Griffin, who improved to 14-2 overall and 7-2 in the UFC with his win over Franca. “The weight division is stacked. There's tons of other guys that we can fight if the title's not on the line.”

Griffin’s exciting performance at UFC 103, his willingness to take the bout against Franca at a catch weight of 159 pounds, and eagerness to make a fight even against a friend, had UFC boss Dana White singing his praises Saturday at the American Airlines Center.

“You hear all the answers he had?" White asked. "Were those not the best answers ever? Teammates will fight teammates if it's for the title. He'll take the fight even though he's overweight. The best.”

White said he was impressed with Griffin’s ability to keep his composure despite the raucous crowd’s desire for instant action.

“This was a rough crowd. (They) didn’t even meet in the middle yet and they were booing. I know that puts a lot of pressure on the fighters,” White said.

“Tyson composed himself, took his time and broke him down, and did what nobody’s ever done before, and stopped Hermes Franca.”

But the big victory, which snapped his streak of seven straight fights that ended up going the distance, did not necessarily guarantee Griffin will move much closer to a shot at the 155-pound crown.

“That 155 pound (class) is nasty. There’s so many talented guys down there. There’s so many things that can happen,” said White of a division that includes champ Penn, top contenders Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, Frankie Edgar, Sean Sherk, Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson and others.

“He’s always an exciting fighter. He comes out and lets it all go, whether it’s standing or on the ground. Tyson looked awesome tonight.”

Personally the non-decision win was quite satisfying for the 25-year-old from Sacramento, even if he didn’t take home any of the UFC’s bonus money for once.

“Yeah it did feel great (to end a fight by stoppage) said Griffin, who had previously won five Fight of the Night Awards and a submission bonus.

“But I’m sure that monkey will come right back as soon as a fight goes to another decision.”

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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