Photo via MMA Weekly.
Coming into the Meadowlands for Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva, the only thing on Chad Grigg's mind was defeating Gian Villante. Despite earning a victory over former pro-wrestler turned mixed martial artist Bobby Lashley, Griggs found himself short on the respect and long on speculation. The victory over Lashley came amidst controversy as Lashley had Griggs fully mounted and pounding away from the dominant position when the referee stepped in and returned the fighters to their feet. The clean slate saw Griggs with new life and he capitalized on the restart as he pummeled the muscle heavy Lashley into a TKO. Immediately following the matchup the MMA media and fan base swarmed the referee's decision and Griggs drifted out of the spotlight that surrounded the biggest victory of his career.
With that being said, Saturday night's bout with Gian Villante, who is a hard nosed scrapper in his own right, Griggs was once again facing an uphill battle. The second televised bout on a card that not only kicked off the highly anticipated heavyweight tournament, but also had Fedor in the headlining slot wasn't figured to have much of a chance to stand out but after the impressive performance displayed by Griggs, the tides shifted. Mutton chopped side burns and all Griggs absorbed an early head kick from Villante, and as blood burst from his ear, immediately returned fire with two smashing shots that dropped Villante to the canvas. With blood in the water, Griggs followed Villante to the ground and finished the fight.
Now with back to back stoppage victories in Strikeforce and a five fight win streak, Chad Griggs may have quietly carved out a spot in the heavyweight division. In both matchups Griggs has shown intensity and determination as he worked through the opposition before him and secured the victory. When looking at the fight with Bobby Lashley, a fight Griggs was supposed to lose on all accounts, Griggs wouldn't fade and the work he did from the bottom had just as much to do with the standup as Lashley's exhaustion. There are few more ominous positions in MMA than being fully mounted, but Griggs continued to fire punches and protect himself. At the very least he was going to survive the round but when the stand-up occurred he pounced on Lashley and used brutal hammer fists to pound out the win.
The bout between Griggs and Villante was named as a reserve bout for the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament and with the win, Griggs now positions himself in the wings in case of injury and a fighter could not continue. When you look at how Griggs matches up with the rest of the field with the exception of Brett Rogers there is a vast gap in experience, but with his rugged style Griggs could pose a threat if he were to get the call. It would be difficult to imagine at this point of his career, Griggs being able to survive on the ground against the likes of Antonio Silva or Josh Barnett, but at the same time Griggs has proven that he isn't the fighter to be counted out. It would also need to be taken into consideration the fact that Griggs disposed of Villante in short fashion so he will be sitting fresh on the sidelines. In 11 career fights the former IFL veteran has only found himself in the loss column on one occasion and none of his bouts have gone the distance. Griggs comes out strong looking to finish and 8 of his 10 wins have come via first round stoppage. While he may not have the experience of Kharnitov or Overeem, a strong and aggressive attack makes for a potential shootout should he get the call to action. Anything can happen in a heavyweight tournament and regardless if Griggs will be needed to step into the tournament, Strikeforce has a solid heavyweight addition to their regular roster.