Forrest Griffin: “Tito was Jon Jones before there was a Jon Jones.”

Former UFC light heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin is too self-deprecating to ever admit it but he’s carved out a helluva career for himself. However, his opponent at UFC 148Tito Ortiz – is in a select group of superstars some might consider to be legends.

Griffin has no problem accepting the past accomplishments of Ortiz who he’ll face for the third time after splitting a pair of Split Decisions in their previous meetings. In fact, he considers Ortiz to be one MMA’s legitimate greats just like your average fan might.

“Tito was Jon Jones before there was a Jon Jones. He was Chuck Liddell before there was a Chuck Liddell,” admitted Griffin in an interview with Fightline.

Ortiz Asked for Griffin Fight Because of Fan-Friendly Style

As far as his own place in the sport’s lexicon, Griffin isn’t quite sure where he stands other than it’s in a spot much more decorated than the one he originally envisioned for himself.

“I really don’t know how I want to be remembered when my fighting days are over. It’s an honor if people do remember me at all,” explained the original Ultimate Fighter winner. “For now I will keep fighting as long as my body holds up and I can keep doing it. No one wants to stop fighting and have to get a real job, especially me! Fighters want to fight forever, when people retire they wind up dying! When I first started fighting I just wanted to make enough money so I wouldn’t have to work. I never thought I’d wind up a UFC champion, maybe in some distant dream I did, but I never imagined it would really happen.”

Ortiz-Griffin face off on July 7 in co-headlining action at UFC 148. The card’s main event pits UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva against heated rival Chael Sonnen.