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Forrest Griffin settling into retirement as UFC Hall of Fame induction looms

Griffin and Stephan Bonnar’s ceremony set for next Saturday as part of Fan Expo

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Forrest Griffin announces his retirement after UFC 160 Saturday, May 25, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. On the left is UFC president Dana White and on the right is heavyweight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.

If You Go

  • What: 2013 UFC Fan Expo
  • When: July 5-6
  • Where: Mandalay Bay Convention Center
  • Tickets: $40-$60 available at ufcfanexpo.com
  • Events include Hall of Fame induction for Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar, Q&A with Dana White and autograph signings with more than 50 fighters

Employees stationed at the UFC’s local offices have a new most intimidating co-worker.

Former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin has begun the transition into his new role within the company after retiring from fighting last month.

“I’ve had to cut my TV back to two hours a day so I can fit in both work and family,” Griffin smirked as he ate lunch at UFC headquarters last week. “I don’t know how normal people do this (expletive). I haven’t even worked much and I can’t figure it out.”

Griffin will eventually head the UFC’s charity efforts but said he had a different “first assignment.” He’s spending time promoting the upcoming UFC Fan Expo, which is scheduled for July 5 and 6 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center as a linchpin of the annual “Fight Week” schedule.

One of the expo’s highlights this year comes at 11 a.m. Saturday when Griffin and old “The Ultimate Fighter 1” buddy Stephan Bonnar are inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame together.

“I’m happy to be in there with him,” Griffin said. “We were actually just hanging out this weekend. We talked about it a little bit. Most of all, he was like, ‘Where the hell are we supposed to be and what the hell are we supposed to wear?’ I was like, ‘Stephan, it will be fine. We’ll know 10 minutes before.’”

Griffin didn’t have much more time than that to prepare for his retirement announcement at the UFC 160 post-fight press conference. Although he had spoken with UFC President Dana White about his intentions to walk away, Griffin said there was no timetable on when they’d team up to reveal the news.

Griffin received a call from White shortly after the card started, informing him they wanted to make the announcement afterwards.

“At the press conference, I had nothing prepared,” Griffin said. “I was like, ‘So this is happening.’ I was a little bit in shock.”

At the press conference, Griffin referred to a recent knee injury, which required surgery on both his ACL and MCL, as the biggest reason for his retirement. But there was more than just that setback he suffered while getting ready for a fight last December.

Griffin also called his shoulder, which had already undergone three surgeries, weak and said he feared it would likely require another operation someday. Training sessions altogether had slowed down and become more challenging.

“The fun thing about training with other people is winning,” Griffin said. “It’s not as much fun if you’re not winning anymore, especially if you know you used to be better than you are. A big thing I really enjoyed was feeling like I was better than I was a month ago. They say progress is one of the principles of happiness. I read that in a book called the Internet, a great book.”

Joking aside, Griffin missed the feeling of constant improvement. When he first moved to Las Vegas to compete on “TUF,” Griffin believed he soaked in every minute of every workout and got better.

That was no longer happening.

“It had been tough,” Griffin said. “I felt like I hit roadblocks. I felt like my body was getting worse.”

Griffin dealt with the inactivity later in his career — he had only fought once since August 2011 — by working on other projects. After the first two books he authored — a self-help manual and survival guide to the zombie apocalypse — sold well, Griffin started writing a third.

“I decided when my daughter was eight months old that I knew everything about parenting, so that’s what it was going to be,” Griffin said. “I had a bit of the book, just pages and pages and notes of stuff. But then I got mad and broke my phone. I hadn’t saved anything, so I think the book might be done.”

His new job sounds steadier anyway. White hadn’t even hashed out what Griffin’s duties would entail at the retirement announcement but was already making guarantees about his employment.

“He will stay with this company for at least the rest of my life,” White said.

Griffin is thankful for the opportunity and is enjoying getting started. He’s still going to frequent MMA gyms across the valley to train when he can, but don’t expect a comeback.

Griffin wants to apply the same drive to his new position that he once did to fighting.

“It’s a good fit. Charity is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Griffin said. “Who doesn’t want to feel like a good guy by giving away other people’s money? That’s a cool thing to do, right?”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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