Griffin vs. Bonnar more enticing than main event

Forrest Griffin, right, punches Stephan Bonnar during The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finale. (Photo...

Forrest Griffin, right, punches Stephan Bonnar during The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finale. (Photo courtesy UFC)

JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:32 AM ET

It's not often the hype for a main-event prize fight is eclipsed by the undercard.

But that is exactly what's taking place with tonight's UFC 62 bout in Las Vegas.

Few fans and even fewer bookies expect any surprises from the light-heavyweight title bout between Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell and Renato (Babalu) Sobral.

Liddell is expected to punch his way to his third straight title defence against the Brazilian submission specialist who he dropped with a devastating head kick when the two last fought in November of 2002.

So the bulk of the attention has turned to the much-anticipated undercard match between Ultimate Fighter alumni Forrest Griffin and Stephan (American Psycho) Bonnar.

The last time the pair met in the Octagon is still described by many as one of the best back-and-forth slugfests in UFC history. It was voted the 2005 fight of the year by a poll of 19,000 fans of mmaweekly.com.

Bonnar, who's 9 and 3, says that with everyone predicting an easy win for Liddell in the title fight, his rematch with Griffin is garnering nearly as much attention as the main event.

"I know people's expectations are high," says Bonnar, who lost his first fight against Griffin by unanimous decision.

"I know Forrest is favoured in this fight again but people know they're going to get their money's worth. No matter how the fight goes, it's going to be non-stop action. We both like to stand up and trade and I think that's what you're going to see."

If there's any gnawing pressure to put on a show to rival the last, Griffin isn't feeling it.

The aw-shucks Georgia banger is as loose as pants on a skater.

Instead of talking about the rematch, Griffin prefers to crack jokes about his new profession.

"I'd fight for free but you're gonna have to pay me if you want me to make weight," says the light-heavyweight who often walks around at 235lbs. but cuts down to 205 to make his weight class.

The pair have landed permanent jobs with the UFC since fighting for the light-heavyweight final in The Ultimate Fighter's first season.

But neither has fallen victim to the spoils of celebrity.

"I sleep in somebody's living room in Vegas now, instead of Georgia," says Griffin.

Never mind that his roommate is UFC ring card girl Amber Miller -- who's dating Griffin's best friend.

Asked whether he thinks a win over Bonnar would put him one step closer to a title shot, Griffin says: "I don't have any goals. My goal is to not have any goals. I just go out and try to punch somebody in the face."

If the last fight is any indication, there,ll be plenty of that tonight.

jose.rodriguez@calgarysun.com

FIGHT NOTES:

  • As first reported in the Sun, Georges St. Pierre has been forced to pull out of his Sept. 23 welterweight title bout with Matt Hughes due to a groin injury. B.J. Penn will replace the Montreal brawler on the card. Hughes reacted by saying: "Now I've got something to really look forward to.I've already beat Georges and here I get to fight a guy who's beaten me."

  • Illness has forced Thiago Alves off tonight's UFC 62 card. UFC veteran Nick Diaz will step in to take on Josh Neer. Both fighters are highly touted but are both coming off decision losses.

  • Toronto cop Rob OEMaximus, MacDonald will take on Rob Schafer in one of the non-telelvised undercards.


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