November 22, 2009
It was a close decision but the UFC escaped fan outrage because they agreed with judges who sided with Forrest Griffin. It was a fight that could've gone either way but Tito Ortiz is still clearly a heel in the minds of many fight fans. He probably added to their dislike even more when he complained about multiple injuries as part of the reason he lost the fight. The fight was even on two judge's scorecards but the younger Griffin played target practice with Ortiz' face and won a split decision 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29 in a light heavyweight bout to close UFC 106 in Las Vegas. More than a few folks along press row scored it 29-28 for Ortiz.
During his postfight conversation with UFC color analyst Joe Rogan, Griffin mentioned that he broke his right foot (during training camp). That set off Ortiz. He initially gave credit to Griffin but mentioned that he couldn't spar before the fight suggesting that beyond a badly blackened eye, he also had a bulging disk in his back. That's bad news from a guy who just missed 17 months recovering from back surgery.
Ortiz suffered the eye injury back on Nov. 9 when he was headbutted. That cut down on his sparring over the last 12 days and it showed in his conditioning. The fight went to the third round even on two scorecards but Ortiz had nothing left in the gas tank. Griffin, 30, regarded as a cardio machine, threw everything he could at Ortiz in that final stanza. Over the first three minutes, he landed some effective leg kicks but his punches mostly hit Ortiz' gloves. In the final two minutes with Ortiz taking deep breaths, the UFC legend got popped by plenty of clean shots sealing the deal for Griffin.
Tito's striking on the feet looked sluggish and slow from the get-go. He missed badly with both hands throughout the fight. He kept himself alive by scoring three takedowns on four attempts in the first and second rounds. He didn't deal out a whole lot of punishment until he landed a big elbow on Griffin's forehead midway through the second. That busted Griffin open just over his left eye.
It was a battle between former UFC light heavyweight champs. Griffin (17-6, 8-4 UFC) still has plenty of game in front of him. You have to question how much Ortiz (15-7, 14-7 UFC) has left in the tank. He returned after a nasty falling out with UFC president Dana White. Ortiz rejoined the promotion on a six-fight contract. If he has any shot of lasting through even half of that deal, he really needs to work on his conditioning.
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