Mailbag: UFC 106 fallout

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

Tito Ortiz has long been one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts. There are many people who continue to love him and support him despite his many struggles, while others are finally getting tired of his act.

In this week's edition of the mixed martial arts mailbag, I answer plenty of questions about all aspects of the fight between Ortiz and Forrest Griffin at UFC 106, as well as many other topics.

Tito, Forrest on TUF 11?

What do you think of choosing Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz as the coaches for Season 11 of "The Ultimate Fighter"? Both were excellent coaches previously, so I think it would be a great idea to have them coach against each other. I think the fights would be excellent and there certainly wouldn't be a cardio issue. If they were chosen, the show would feature two of the most popular fighters in UFC history. What are your thoughts?

Ryan Wells
Magna, Utah

I think they'd be good choices, Ryan. There aren't a lot of obvious other choices and there is a natural storyline between them.

Ortiz was not robbed

I don't have a clue why fans spend so much time complaining about scoring. Do you think Ortiz was really robbed? I say no way. A score of 30-27 on any judge's scorecard is ridiculous, but I think Forrest clearly won. I have been watching MMA passionately since 1997 and for one think they give too much emphasis to a takedown. Yeah, takedowns are great if that's all that is happening but in my humble opinion, Forrest still dictated the action. Other than the elbows that Ortiz managed from the guard to cut Griffin, Griffin controlled where the rest of the fight happened. That transition to standing was sweet and so was that Kimura attempt. I think a good jiu-jitsu performance off of your back is better then a lame wrestling performance while on top, especially if you aren't damaging or putting the defensive position in trouble.

Sumter, S.C.

I tend to agree with you, Shane. I had it 29-28 Griffin, though I think the 30-27 score in favor of Griffin is defensible. I gave Griffin Rounds 1 and 3 and Ortiz Round 2. But you could make an argument for Griffin in each round and, indeed, at least one judge saw Griffin as the winner in each of the three rounds. The only round that all three judges agreed upon was the third, when Ortiz got tired and did nothing. The 10-point must system isn't great for mixed martial arts, but I haven't heard anyone offer a better solution. I believe the scoring criteria needs to be clarified and I feel judges need to be willing to score rounds 10-8 or even 10-7. In boxing, it's almost automatic that a round with a knockdown is a 10-8, though that's not the case in MMA. But if the judges began to use the points more – giving a guy an extra point for several good submission attempts, say – then it would differentiate between rounds where one is very close and another where one man is clearly the winner.

Love affair with Tito?

I'm puzzled by the love affair the MMA media seems to have with Tito Ortiz. I certainly haven't been watching MMA as closely as you have over the years, but I can't remember the last time Tito Ortiz was impressive in a fight. It was a long time ago, that's for sure. (I'm not counting the Ken Shamrock debacles.) I'm especially tired of hearing how fit he is all the time. Against Chuck Liddell the last time, he gassed and got knocked out. Against Griffin this weekend, he gassed after telling everyone it felt so great to be in such great shape at last after his back surgery. His fights seem to fit that pattern. Impressive in the first round, less impressive in the second round, just standing there in the third round. The last element of the pattern is to then whine in the post-fight interview about an injury before giving props to his opponent. So I guess my question is this: When was the last time Tito really kicked someone's butt? That's what we look for from guys in this weight class, and Tito doesn't look like he's changed at all from a few years ago.

Jim Sheahan
Red Hook, N.Y.

There's one more question along a similar line before I answer. Check this one out:

Am I the only one getting tired of Ortiz's excuses? Don't get me wrong, I am not questioning the severity of his injuries, but it seems that the pattern has been that before every fight he talks about how he is in the best shape of his life, how he is finally healthy for the first time in forever, how his cardio is the best it has been and how he's ready to fight. Then, he gasses in the fight and as soon as the fight is over, he starts ranting about how he was injured for the fight and wasn't able to give 100 percent. At this point, I no longer consider him a main-event elite fighter. He just can't stay healthy enough to be effective. Maybe for his next fight he should focus more on staying healthy, and then he wouldn't have to make excuses.

Bakersfield, Calif.

I'll start by saying that I like Tito personally. He's one of the most cooperative fighters with the media and he always has something to say, which probably has something to do with why you feel the media like him, Jim. But I agree with both of you that these excuses are getting old. I asked that question – the first one – at the post-fight news conference and Tito said he had to sell the fight. Now, I give Forrest and Tito plenty of credit for actually fighting with serious injuries. However, as much as I admire Tito's desire to fight, he needs to reexamine the way he goes about this. If he can't perform near his optimum, then he should withdraw until he can. I don't believe he's developed his game much in recent years, either. He's good enough that he can almost pull out a submission over Lyoto Machida, but his standup hasn't gotten better at all. His last win over an in-his-prime contender was probably Vitor Belfort at UFC 51 on Feb. 5, 2005. Yeah, he won a split decision over Griffin in his next fight, but Griffin was still a young and unproven fighter at that time. To my way of thinking, Tito is still a big-time entertainer but he's a half-notch or so from being an elite fighter.

Was Forrest dogging or saving Tito?

Steve Cofield wrote in his Cagewriter blog that "fighters rip each other in cage," referring to Griffin and Ortiz. I saw it differently. What I was hearing was respect for each other. When Forrest said all fighters get hurt training, he was defending Ortiz from the crowd. How do you see it?

Mike S.
Eldersburg, Md.

I agree with you, Mike. Steve and I discussed that topic as we were leaving the arena. I think he misinterpreted what Forrest said. To paraphrase, Griffin said when you train to fight, you get hurt training. He said this as the crowd was booing Ortiz for listing his training camp injuries. I agree with your point and believe Forrest was urging the crowd not to boo Ortiz.

Are fighters tested for blood diseases?

Watching UFC 106 and seeing several fighters get bloodied up, which occurs at every event, got me thinking about the possible spread of blood diseases. Do fighters get tested for things like HIV before they are allowed to fight? I know it seems far-fetched that an elite fighter could carry a disease and fight, but I was wondering about this.

Jared Curtis
Adelaide, Australia

They are tested pre-fight for such diseases, Jared. In the U.S., the testing is a requirement of and administered by the relevant state athletic commission. But when the UFC travels to other countries, it depends upon whether MMA is regulated there. In the U.K., it is not, so the UFC does the testing on its own, using the rules that are in place with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Johnson's illegal knee

After watching the Josh Koscheck-Anthony Johnson fight at UFC 106 Saturday, I'd like to know your opinion of the illegal knee Johnson delivered in the first round. In the replay, you could easily see the knee hit Koscheck's arm and not his head or eye. There was a possible graze on Josh's eye, but even Rogan didn't believe it because Josh was holding the opposite eye he supposedly got hit.

San Jose, Calif.

I'm not sure about his eye, Brian, because I've watched the replay many times and talked to those involved and I'm still not certain of what happened vis-a-vis the poke. However, Koscheck was on his knees and Johnson delivered a knee that connected with the head. Koscheck partially blocked it, but it was still illegal and the point deduction was warranted. The question would be whether Koscheck deserved the five minutes to recover, but I say he did. It was difficult for the referee to determine and the fighter was saying he couldn't open his eye. Safety rules must prevail. Plus, even if there wasn't a poke, the knee hit him in the head (albeit even if the forearm absorbed some of the blow) and Koscheck was woozy from an illegal shot. So I had no problem with the way the officials handled it.