Two years ago, Evans native Forrest Griffin was still slowly working his way up the ladder of mixed martial arts fighting. He had just sustained a broken arm in his previous fight, a knockout win against Edson Paredao.
The thoughts of leaving fighting behind were quite reasonable. The injuries and low pay were reason enough.
However, 2004 was the year Griffin got the phone call that changed his life.
Griffin was invited to the first run of The Ultimate Fighter, the immensely popular reality show produced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Griffin competed against seven other top contenders in the light-heavyweight class during his tenure on the show, ultimately winning a six-figure contract to compete in the UFC in April 2005.
"I had wanted to do this professionally since I found out about it," said Griffin. "But The Ultimate Fighter actually made that possible for me."
In the year that followed, Griffin quickly rose through the ranks in the UFC. With two decisive wins to close out 2005, Griffin had cemented his name from a reality show winner to a true contender.
This year, Griffin has made even more progress, proving that he is one of the best fighters in the sport.
In a recent poll done by MMAweekly.com, Griffin was ranked 10th among the light-heavyweight fighters of the world.
"It's kind of scary," said Griffin. "There are a lot of great fighters out there."
Griffin, a graduate of Evans High School and Georgia, began his mixed martial arts training in 1999 in Athens, Ga.
After winning six consecutive amateur fights, he was offered a chance to fight the legendary Dan Severn in his hometown in October 2001. On short notice and for very little pay, Griffin fought three rounds with the UFC Hall-of-Fame fighter, losing on a judge's decision.
"I told them I would fight anybody and they held me to it," Griffin said. "You've got to be careful when you say stuff like that."
Griffin, who now lives in Las Vegas, proceeded to win eight consecutive fights over the next two years. He suffered only one additional loss before his stint on The Ultimate Fighter.
When in Augusta, Griffin trains at Greubel's Mixed Martial Arts, with kickboxing instructors Mark and John Greubel and jiu-jitsu instructor Chris Elms.
"By far, Forrest Griffin is the most well conditioned athlete I have ever met," said Mark Greubel, a two-time United States champion kick boxer and owner of Greubel's Mixed Martial Arts.
Before leaving for Nevada, Griffin will be conducting a mixed martial arts seminar at Greubel's on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., consisting of three separate sessions of striking, grappling, and no-holds barred fighting.
"I am just going to show a lot of stuff I have been able to learn at the different gyms I have been fortunate enough to train at," Griffin said.
What: Mixed Martial Arts seminar with Forrest Griffin.
When: 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., Saturday
Where: Greubel's Mixed Martial Arts
Cost: $59 per session, $129 for all three sessions. Spectator fee $15.