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UFC 202’s Griffin was considering retirement before ‘UFC swooped in at the nick of time’

Before finally being signed to the UFC last month, Max Griffin, who debuts at UFC 202 next week, was contemplating stepping away from the sport of mixed martial arts.

Max Griffin via Vir Moore

Max Griffin has had a long road to the UFC. The Sacramento, Calif., native has had to have more fights on the local scene than other UFC hopefuls to earn a contract with the leading mixed martial arts organization. But that’s because he has had a couple setbacks along the way, including a loss in the opening round of The Ultimate Fighter 16 in 2012.

He’s finally made it now though. He’s racked up a large amount of wins, enough to gain enough interest from the UFC brass to be signed. His goal has been accomplished.

Griffin makes his promotional debut against Colby Covington at UFC 202, which goes down at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas next week, and is headlined by Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor II.

Griffin may look back at his fighting career one day and view his UFC signing as a career-saver, because the welterweight fighter was on the verge of retiring after his latest win — a quick stoppage over UFC veteran David Mitchell at West Coast FC 16 in January.

“I’ve dedicated 18 years of my life to martial arts in general,” Griffin told BloodyElbow.com’s The MMA Circus. “I actually almost thought about hanging it up. I took over the West Coast, got the King of Sacramento win; I have all the titles, number one in the region for years. I just need an avenue to show my skills. It would’ve been a hard thing to do. I felt like I had nothing more to prove.

“I know my talent level, I know how good I am and what I can do. I just need the chance to show the world. And it’s up to the UFC to sign me. If they weren’t going to, I wasn’t OK with it, but I would’ve had to make that decision to not continue.”

Griffin tore his LCL soon after his latest victory, but that didn’t stop him from training. And despite having to go through the lengthy process of rehabilitation for his knee, he wasn’t quite ready to hang the gloves up. Had he not received the call from the UFC, it wouldn’t have been long before he would do so, but just not right away.

“Oh, yeah. Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I’ve been training the whole time, even when I tore my LCL, I was still training. I was just training alone. I couldn’t have anyone push on me. When you have a hear or something, you gotta be real careful. I was still training, my head was still in it. I wasn’t gonna retire then, [but] I was considering it. So the good thing was, I’m still in shape.”

Griffin “was planning on fighting in September” in what probably would have been the last hurrah before his mixed martial arts career came to an end, had he not been signed to the UFC.

“I was considering these other shows. Some shows overseas,” he said. “We were in talks with some different shows — Venator FC, KSW, ACB, Bellator. We had offers. But I wanted to hold out and I did. I was almost gonna be like, ‘If it’s not going to work, then I’m gonna do this.’ But UFC swooped in at the nick of time.

Griffin had been in talks with the UFC for quite some time, according to him.

“We’ve been talking to them for years,” he said. “They know who I am. I was on The Ultimate Fighter a few years back. But even then, [UFC president] Dana White was like, when I lost, when I was there, ‘Hey, win a couple fights and we’ll sign you back.’ I think I’ve won 10 fights since then. It’s nature of the game. It’s nature of the business. You just gotta keep fighting, keep winning, keep being impressive, and that’s what ended up happening.”

Griffin believes his signing is long overdue. After every win on the regional circuit, he waited and waited for the call. But it never came. It got to a point where, despite always expecting it, once he actually received the call, he was surprised.

Despite that belief, he views now as the ideal time to make his debut.

“That’s how I feel, but I feel like, also, everything happens for a reason,” he said. “At this point, I couldn’t be anymore ready. I think even when I went to The Ultimate Fighter I was 3-1; now I’m 12-2, I’m well-rounded, I have experience. I’m ready to beat anybody in the world. I have the skills. Now it’s perfect timing. It couldn’t be any better to be signed on the McGregor card to actually show 10s of millions of people what I can do.”

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