LAS VEGAS – An octagon full of observations coming out of UFC 106:
1. Tito Ortiz isn't through … but he isn't going to be challenging for the light heavyweight title anytime soon, either. The former champion's return fight against Forrest Griffin on Saturday night was similar to the other three on his current four-fight winless streak (0-3-1). Ortiz still is a strong enough fighter to stay competitive with the elites at 205, but he's a step slower than he was during his heyday. The offensive attack that propelled him to the top a decade ago is not diverse enough to defeat the likes of Lyoto Machida or Rashad Evans. Still, as long as Ortiz's mouth still can sell a fight and as long as he can remain competitive even if his hand isn't raised in the end, he'll still have a prominent place on the card.
2. Get in line: Josh Koscheck may have a point when he says that Dan Hardy doesn't deserve the next shot at welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, but does that really mean Koscheck should be next in line by virtue of his win over Anthony Johnson? Koscheck, after all, already has lost to both St. Pierre and Thiago Alves, and he was knocked out by Paulo Thiago in February. While there's no doubting St. Pierre has torn through the division to such an extent that there is no clear No. 1 contender, Koscheck should fight and defeat another name welterweight fighter before getting a crack at the title.
3. Call him "Lefty": Antonio Rogerio Nogueira staked his claim to a spot in the UFC light heavyweight division with a quick victory over Luiz Cane. Nogueira, the brother of heavyweight standout Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, used a short right jab to set up a huge left that sent Cane running for cover. When Nogueira caught up with him, he met Cane with a crushing left to the jaw that ended the fight. It was the seventh consecutive victory for the Brazilian, who was last seen by American fans knocking out Vladimir Matyushenko on an Affliction card in January.
4. Least-anticipated UFC return: Why, exactly, is Phil Baroni back in the UFC? The loudmouth from New York hasn't been able to back up his talk in years – he's 4-11 since 2003 when fighting in major promotions. Predictably, Baroni came out swinging in his Saturday-night fight against Amir Sadollah – and just as predictably, he was gassed by the middle of the first round. Sadollah then spent the next 13 or so minutes methodically picking Baroni apart in the standup before earning a unanimous-decision victory. Hopefully now that Sadollah, the "Ultimate Fighter 7" champion, has a name victory under his belt, Baroni gets a one-way ticket to King of the Cage or the Palace Fighting Championships.
5. Slickest finish: Koscheck got submission of the night for his rear-naked choke win over Johnson, but middleweight Kendall Grove had a finish that would have taken the honor on most other nights. Grove looked well on his way to his fourth loss in six fights as Jake Rosholt got off to a roaring start in their undercard match. Rosholt, a three-time NCAA champion wrestler at Oklahoma State, scored a pair of big slams and spent most of the fight working from the top. But in a split-second, Grove exploited an opening and locked on a triangle choke, handing Rosholt his second loss in seven pro fights.
6. Gate-crashing: Ben Saunders got the biggest test of his career against welterweight gatekeeper Marcus Davis, and he rose to the challenge. Saunders overwhelmed "The Irish Hand Grenade" in the clinch and finished him at 3:24 of the first round with a pair of knees to the jaw. It was Saunders' fourth win in five UFC fights and the first time that Davis lost by stoppage in 22 pro fights.
7. Double trouble: Johnson's knee to the head of the grounded Koscheck was both the evening's most high-profile transgression and the last in a string of fouls. Brock Larson pulled off the rare feat of getting docked twice in the same round of his match with Brian Foster. In the first round, Larson, on his back, kicked Foster in the head while Foster had both knees on the ground. Then, for another deduction, Larson kneed Foster in the head while Foster had a hand on the ground. Larson's self-inflicted scorecard deficit proved moot as he was TKO'd by Foster in the second round.
8. Luck of the draw: San Diego's Fabricio Camoes impressed in his match against veteran Caol Uno, mixing in sharp striking with solid ground work, but he also made a mistake that cost him a victory in his UFC debut. In the second round, Camoes drilled the grounded Uno with a nasty upkick to the temple, costing him a point. Without the foul, Camoes would have won via split decision. Instead, the match ended a majority draw as Uno took a 29-27 score from one judge while the other two ended up 28-28 instead of 29-28, Camoes.
- Josh Koscheck
- Tito Ortiz