Why This Rematch Was Made
This weekends UFC 106 event will feature a headline fight that’s been three years in the making. In April 2006 Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz waged war on each other for the full fifteen minutes inside the octagon. It was a memorable fight and left the judges with the unenviable task of having to pick a winner.
In the end Ortiz was given the split decision victory, but even watching the fight back today it is possible to put a convincing argument for either to have won it. The only fair thing to do is to let them fight for a second time, and that’s exactly what will happen on Saturday night.
Since the fight both fighters have had mixed fortunes in the UFC. Griffin has went 4-3 in his last seven fights, including notable wins over Shogun Rua and Rampage Jackson which earned him the light heavyweight title.
His reign at the top did not last long however and he has since suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in his 16-6 professional career. He lost the belt to Rashad Evans at UFC 92 in December of last year, and then was convincingly beaten by Anderson Silva in the first round at UFC 101 in August by KO.
After defeating Griffin, Tito Ortiz posted a 2-2-1 record inside the octagon. The two wins came over an ageing and outclassed Ken Shamrock. His other fights were far more challenging, pitting him against three fighters who have now held the belt.
Firstly he would lose in his attempt to take the LHW title from Chuck Liddell at UFC 66 back in December of 2006, and then went on to draw with Rashad Evans. In his last appearance in the octagon at UFC 84 in May of last year he went three rounds with current champ Lyoto Machida, but lost by unanimous decision.
Ortiz’s 19 Month Layoff
Ortiz has been out of action for the past 19 months out, due partly to a falling out with Dana White and partly due to having back surgery for a problem that Ortiz says has been affecting his performance since he fought Randy Couture back in September of 2003.
After successful surgery Ortiz has claimed he is now 100% fit and sees Forrest Griffin as the first step back to a shot at a title he last held some six years ago.
Key Talking Points
There’s several key factors that could influence the result in this fight. Firstly, how will Ortiz perform after having been out of action for so long? Even an experienced veteran can show signs of ring rust, after such a lengthy layoff.
It will also be interesting to see if his back surgery does indeed enable him to perform at a higher level than his most recent performances. In several of his fights, including the first Griffin bout, he appeared to start strongly and then taper off in the later rounds. Ortiz claims his back was the problem, on Saturday night we’ll see for sure.
Meanwhile Griffin has issues of his own. How will he bounce back after completely outclassed by Anderson Silva? He has not reacted well to the defeat and even now is uncomfortable talking about it. It appears that rather than trying to learn from the defeat he has simply to tried to forget that it ever happened.
For both fighters there is significant pressure to get a win in this fight. Griffin has went from light heavyweight champion to back-to-back defeats and needs to re-establish himself as a credible fighter in the upper ranks of the division.
Ortiz is also coming off a number of poor results before his extended hiatus and has to prove that he is still relevant and can regain the form that saw him successfully defend his LHW title 5 times from 2000-2003.
Ways To Win
Forrest Griffin will be looking to beat his opponent in the stand-up battle. While he had major difficulty with Anderson Silva, Ortiz is not known as a heavy-handed striker and so it’s unlikely this one will finish early on the feet. Griffin also has excellent cardio and will be looking to drag Ortiz into the deep water of the later rounds to test how good his stamina is after his lengthy lay-off.
Tito Ortiz will take heart from the first round of their previous fight where he appeared to be out-striking Griffin on the feet, and was dominant on the ground. In the lead up to this fight he has been working with boxing coach Freddie Roach, and will be hoping that experience will have sharpened his rather workman-like technique.
If his back is 100% healthy as he claims it to be then also expect to see a number of takedowns and ground n pound assaults throughout the course of the fight.
To wrap up this preview, watch the two fighters discussing their match-up yesterday with fanhouse.com reporter Ariel Helwani below. Check back to the site tomorrow for predictions on this, and the other fights on the UFC 106 card.
Article by RossC