The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns this weekend with UFC 106. The UFC 106 presented this weekend will be much different than the original UFC 106 plans. While MMA fans lost one big match, another match change turned out to be better than the original. Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin meet in a long awaited rematch to highlight UFC 106.
This is a rematch that I have always wanted to see. I am actually surprised it took this long to make it happen. Ortiz announced his UFC return over the summer and indicated that he wanted to wait until he was 100% healthy to return to action. He signed to face Mark Coleman in his first match back at UFC 106. Frankly, this was nothing I was excited about and it just seemed like a set up for an easy Ortiz win. Coleman got hurt, Ortiz needed a new opponent, and there will be nothing easy about his new opponent.
[adinserter block=”1″]The last time MMA fans saw Forrest Griffin, he was awkwardly running out of the cage after being embarrassed by Anderson Silva. He gave a new meaning to the phrase, “Run Forrest, run!” Griffin’s behavior after the match immediately cost him a lot of popularity amongst UFC fans. Griffin went into hiding and the usual media-loving jokester was nowhere to be found. The day Dana White announced the new match was the first anyone had even heard of Forrest since the Silva fight.
Griffin and Ortiz’s first match at UFC 59 has been a forgotten classic. You couldn’t have scripted a better match for a Hollywood movie. Griffin was the underdog, a fan favorite who had just won a reality show. He was truly in a position of being the Rocky of the UFC. Fans loved his courage and his brawling style, but nobody really took him seriously as a threat. Like Coleman, most speculated this match was a tune up to re-introduce Ortiz back to the UFC. To put this into perspective, Ortiz was paid $200,000 for the fight while Griffin was paid $16,000.
The fight turned into a real life Rocky vs. Apollo Creed. Ortiz talked a lot of trash before the match which turned Forrest into a bigger fan favorite. Ortiz started round one with a flurry and overwhelmed Griffin with his attack. At one point he bloodied Forrest and it looked like the fight would be over. Like Rocky, Forrest fought back and as the fight progressed, Forrest got stronger and more confident. By the third round, Griffin was the man in control blocking Tito’s takedowns and strikes. When the bell ended Griffin said he was ready to go two more rounds while Ortiz looked done. The crowd was frenzied as they expected to see the biggest upset at the time in MMA history. Unfortunately, fans and quite arguably Griffin were robbed of that upset. Ortiz won the fight on a very controversial split decision.
Oh how so much has changed since that fight in 2006. Griffin has gone on to win and lose the UFC light heavyweight championship. On top of that, Griffin has become one of the biggest superstars in the UFC. Ortiz tumbled backwards winning two easy matches against Ken Shamrock, yet hasn’t won a fight since. Ortiz wound up out of the UFC, in a public fight against Dana White, and was practically wiped out of the UFC’s history in the Top 100 show. Things changed for the Huntingdon Beach Bad Boy when he and Dana White patched things up, came to terms, and announced his return to the UFC this summer.
This will be anything but an easy fight for Tito Ortiz. I am really surprised that the UFC would risk such a huge investment in Ortiz with this fight, yet I love it as an MMA fan. I love the hype surrounding a Tito Ortiz fight but that is where it ends for Ortiz. I hate to say it, but I really think Tito’s best days as a fighter are long behind him. He hasn’t put anyone away decisively other than Ken Shamrock in a long time. I give him credit and I do think he gave Lyoto Machida a hell of a fight. Yet he hasn’t decisively beaten a big name in eight years since he beat Evan Tanner at UFC 30. Ortiz has done a better job of creating the myth that he is a great fighter than he has done of actually being a great fighter.
I don’t know what to make of Forrest Griffin. It is really hard to take anything away from the Anderson Silva fight. I can’t say a guy is a fraud who got handled by arguably the greatest fighter to ever step into the UFC. Griffin is coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time in his MMA career. It is quite amazing since he came off consecutive wins over future Hall of Fame fighters, Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua before his loss to Rashad Evans. I think Forrest Griffin is a very dangerous man right now. You could see the change, the anger, and the frustration in his face during the countdown special. He is probably the last guy I’d want to fight right now if I were Tito Ortiz.
As for the fight itself, I think it really comes down to how healthy Tito Ortiz is. Tito claims he is the healthiest he has been in years. That is fine in training, but it will be real interesting to see how his back holds up during a real fight. The key for Forrest is to keep his distance. If Forrest can avoid takedowns and frustrate Ortiz with leg kicks and jabs, he could set himself up nicely for an opening in the later rounds. At the same time if Ortiz could time Griffin’s strikes and shoot the takedown, he could just as easily frustrate Griffin. Griffin does not want to go 0-3 and he could make a costly mistake if he feels he is getting into trouble and deviates from his game plan.
[adinserter block=”2″]In the end, I am more excited about this fight than anything in the last several months. These are two guys that don’t have boring fights. I’d expect more of a slugfest early than a slow, grinder on the ground. I think in the end, Forrest takes the fight via TKO or knock out. I just think Tito is too old and too rusty to hang with someone as good Forrest right now. I also think that Forrest is going into this much hungrier and meaner than he has ever been in the UFC. I look for three rounds here, with Forrest getting the win and making a lot more than $16,000 for the fight.
BetUs.com has Forrest Griffin as a -145 favorite while Bodog.com has the fight a little more even with Forrest as a -110 favorite.
Forrest Griffin UFC 59 post-fight interview on the split decision with Tito Ortiz
The entire scheduled UFC 106 fight card is…
Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin
Josh Koscheck vs. Anthony Johnson
Paulo Thiago vs. Jacob Volkmann
Luiz Cane vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Amir Sadollah vs. Phil Baroni
Ben Saunders vs. Marcus Davis
Kendall Grove vs. Jake Rosholt
Brock Larson vs. Brian Foster
Caol Uno vs. Fabricio Camoes
George Sotiropoulos vs. Jason Dent
Thanks to MMAFanhouse.com for the tip!
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Tito Ortiz’s autobiography This Is Gonna Hurt: The Life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion by clicking here.