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Griffin edges Ortiz at UFC 106

Octagonside by Andreas Hale and Anthony Springer Jr
Photos courtesy of Josh Hodges, UFC.com

Three years ago at UFC 59, former light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin locked horns for the first time. The back-and-forth fight left the crowd electrified, and the judges undecided on who the winner was. When the final bell rang, the judges awarded the bout to the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” via a razor thin - and much debated - split decision.

Since then, Griffin has gained and lost the light heavyweight strap, beaten two of the best 205-pounders in Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

Ortiz, on the other hand, suffered a loss to current champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida and disappeared from the UFC after failing to come to terms on a new contract. The Southern California fighter has also had a well documented surgery and subsequent recovery for an injured back.

With two storybook careers meeting in the Octagon for a second time, the stage was set for a memorable end to a memorable night.

Forrest entered the cage to Chumbawumba’s 90’s hit “Tubthumping.” The song’s chorus—“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down”—describes the massive light heavyweight’s career to date. After back to back losses courtesy of Rashad Evans and Anderson Silva, the former police officer emerged from the ashes to headline UFC 106 against the man who narrowly defeated him in their first bout.

On this night, Griffin would have his redemption, using pure work ethic to even the score en route to a razor thin split decision of his own.

True to his word, Ortiz came out looking to make a statement early. He displayed improved striking in the opening moments, catching Griffin with a right cross. A trademark Ortiz takedown followed shortly after, drawing a raucous applause from the Mandalay Bay crowd of 10,529. From the dominant position, Ortiz went to work, battering Griffin’s body and face with punches and elbows. As a big 205-pounder, Griffin would not be kept on the mat for long. After getting out from under Ortiz, Griffin was again hit with an Ortiz combo. But in a sign of what was to come, stuffed an Ortiz takedown late in the opening stanza.

Round two opened up with another overhand right from Ortiz followed by a takedown. With the dominant position once again, Ortiz did indeed make a statement. A left elbow opened up a cut on the left side of Griffin’s face, sending the original Ultimate Fighter’s DNA running like a leaky faucet. The second round would end in seesaw fashion with Griffin sweeping Ortiz to overtake the top position. As the seconds ticked to a close, many believed—rightly, as it turned out—that Griffin stole the round with the sweep and subsequent forearms from the top slot.

With the crowd on their feet as the two cage warriors rose for a final five minutes of battle, Griffin proved that superior cardio makes the difference between a win and a loss. Ahead on one score card, down on another, and all even on the third, Griffin went to work on a visibly exhausted Tito Ortiz. With a gassed Ortiz assuming the role of human punching bag, Griffin punched and kicked his way to what could’ve been an arguable 10-8 round. However, when the bell rang, the capacity crowd was unsure of whose hand would be raised. Ortiz felt he won the fight; Griffin remained unsure.

The judges scored the contest 30-27, 28-29, and 29-28.

With the outcome of the bout now in the history books, Griffin wasted no time advocating for a rubber match.

“Tito, I think we’re going to have to do a third, we’re one and one man,” he said. - Anthony Springer Jr

Koscheck Taps Johnson In Bizarre Bout

In a bizarre co-main event, Josh Koscheck made a statement with an impressive submission victory over Anthony Johnson. The polarizing figure from The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 and the deadly striker known as “Rumble” engaged in a foul fest for much of the bout before Koscheck thought better of standing toe to toe with the much larger Johnson and utilized his collegiate wrestling background to earn the victory.

The battle between two welterweights who agreed to fight each other on short notice began with Koscheck trading shots – and actually getting the better of Johnson – in the center of the Octagon. The game plan may be considered bizarre to stand a trade with a devastating striker like Johnson, but what followed was stranger than Koscheck’s initial strategy.

With Koscheck clearly down on both knees, Johnson shot a monster knee strike in the direction of Koscheck. Although it did not land cleanly, the knee forced Koscheck’s pinky finger into his eye and momentarily stopped the bout. After taking the full five minutes to recover, the fight would continue as Koscheck closed the round very close to securing a rear naked choke.

The second round would begin where the other round left off - with both fighters trading blows in the cage as the crowd roared. This time, Koscheck would return the eye poking favor and again the fight skidded to a halt as a cascade of boos flooded the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Aside from both fighters finding fingers in their eyes, they put on an entertaining bout with each giving their all. Late in the second round, Koscheck scored a single-leg takedown and started dropping elbows from Johnson’s half guard as the round neared conclusion.

With Johnson clearly in deep water and looking to simply make it through the final moments of the 2nd frame, he looked to scramble away but gave Koscheck his back. The blond welterweight’s eyes lit up as he worked Johnson over and secured a rear naked choke as the round was merely seconds from closing. Johnson would try to hang on but Koscheck would tighten the choke and give Johnson the choice of either tapping or going to sleep. Johnson would opt for the former and give Koscheck the submission victory at 4:47 in the second round.

Afterwards, Koscheck looked to make a case for his standing in the welterweight division as well as shoot down the next fighter in line for a shot at Georges St. Pierre’s welterweight title.

“There is someone here who thinks he’s the No. 1 contender,” Koscheck said. “He hasn’t fought anyone. He’s sitting over there. His name is Dan Hardy. He hasn’t fought anyone like me. I’m the No. 1 contender. He ain’t fought anybody like me, guaranteed. I’m the number one freaking contender in this weight division.” - Andreas Hale

Nogueira #2 Impresses In UFC Debut

Looking to emerge from the shadow of his twin brother Antonio Minotauro Nogueira, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was impressive in his UFC debut as he knocked out Luiz Cane with a blistering right hook in the first round.

Nogueira – with his twin brother and Anderson Silva in his corner – wasted no time proving that he will be a force in the 205 lb as he completely steamrolled the hard hitting prospect. Nogueira got things going with a left hook that immediately put Cane on his bicycle as the fighter known as “Lil Nog” went in for the kill. Cane would regain his senses but Nogueira sent him spiraling to the canvas with yet another vicious left hook that ended the fight at 1:56 in the first round. - Andreas Hale

Thiago defeats Volkmann in lackluster bout.

In an uneventful “swing bout,” Paulo Thiago got back in the win column with a unanimous decision over Jacob Volkmann.

Volkman’s performance proved that records can often be deceiving. With nine wins to his credit, Volkmann looked as though he had never been in a fight in his life. The man they call “Christmas” was floored in all three rounds by single punches from Thiago.

The seesaw battle saw both men struggle for position, but neither would come close to finishing the bout.

Volkmann showed signs of life in the final stanza, taking Thiago’s back on several occasions, gaining top position, and scoring with some punches against the cage. Despite the effort, Thiago displayed an iron chin and remained calm under pressure, sliding out of each tough spot.

The judges scored the contest 30-27, 29-28, and 30-27 for Thiago, who improves to 12-1.

After the bout ended, Thiago conceded that going to the ground was not the smartest move.

“I should’ve kept the fight standing,” Thiago said. “I had him hurt in the first but unfortunately the round ended.”

The jiu-jitsu fighter also pleaded for the UFC to give him a striker.

“The UFC has given me top-notch wrestlers to go up against—they’ve been good matchups for me but I’d like to make sure I work my standup more.”- Anthony Springer Jr

Saunders Hands Davis First Knockout Loss

Ben Saunders fulfilled his promise that he would be the first to knockout the Marcus Davis as he completely wrecked the Irish Hand Grenade with a series of knee strikes to earn the TKO victory at 3:24 in the first round. The battle of welterweights looked good on paper but Saunders dominance inside from the Thai clinch shredded any prospect of this fight being evenly matched. Davis looked to use his powerful striking early but Saunders negated the approach by locking in a tight Muay Thai plum and brutalizing Davis from the inside. A monster knee turned Davis’ lights out and sent him crumbling to the canvas as Saunders earned the victory and bounced back from his loss to Mike Swick back at UFC 99.- Andreas Hale

Foster Smokes Larson

Brian Foster completely dominated Brock Larson en route to a resounding TKO victory in the second round of their welterweight matchup. Foster, fresh off of his “Fight of the Night” submission loss to Rick Story at UFC 103, came right at Larson and gave him no room to work. Even though Larson was well behind after losing two points in the first round for a kick and a knee to a downed opponent, Foster wouldn’t rest on his laurels and cruise to an easy victory. Instead, Foster came out with his guns blazing in the second round and landed a spinning back kick and followed with a spinning backfist to begin the carnage that would end the fight. With the former WEC welterweight champion in trouble, Foster scored an impressive takedown and looked to end the fight as he pummeled Larson with a bevy of hammerfists. Larson would make it to his feet but ate a monster knuckle sandwich from Foster as he dived in for a takedown. It was elementary after that as Foster starched Larson with punches and forced Yves Lavigne to wave off the bout at 3:25 in the second round.- Andreas Hale

Sotiropoulos Extends Winning Streak

UFC 106 kicked off with a lightweight bout that saw George Sotiropoulos extend his UFC undefeated streak to four after tapping out Jason Dent with an armbar at 4:36 in round 2. Both fighters spend a majority of the first round exchanging punches before Sotiropoulos took down Dent and showed his dominance on the ground as he ended the round in full mount while raining down punches. The second round saw Sotiropoulos catch a body kick from dent and sweep the leg for a nifty takedown. From there, Sotiropoulos secured an armbar from full mount and forced Dent to tap out.- Andreas Hale

Uno and Camoes fight to a draw!

The more experienced Caol Uno needed a point deduction to survive the younger Fabricio Camoes as the pair fought to a majority draw.

Camoes immediately made a statement, connecting his right leg to the side of Uno’s face. From there, the jiu-jitsu practitioner made several attempts to finish the fight, attempting guillotines and rear naked chokes. Camoes further kept his older adversary off balance, with several looping punches.

A rookie mistake cost Camoes a point in the second round after an accidental kick to the face of Uno. The point deduction proved to be the difference in the bout as Camoes proved dominant but finished with a 9-9 score for the round.

Uno convincingly took command in the final frame, taking Camoes down and maintaining a top position. The performance saved Uno from another L on his record.

In an unusual turn of events, the judges scored the bout 29-27 (Uno), 28-28, and 28-28 - Anthony Springer Jr

Rosholt slips, gets tapped by Grove.

Anything can happen in MMA, and it only takes one mistake to go from certain victory to sudden defeat. Jake Rosholt learned that the hard way, dropping his preliminary contest to Kendall Grove at 3:59 in the opening round due to a triangle choke.

Rosholt put on a dominate performance for about 3:50 of the opening round. The wrestler repeatedly took donwn the Ultimate Fighter winner at will. After putting grove on the bicycle following a left-right combo and a knee to the midsection, Rosholt assumed top position. However, jiu-jitsu artists are never uncomfortable fighting from the bottom. In the midst of a series of punches, Rosholt left his arm open for the experienced Grove, who transitioned from an arm bar to a triangle choke.- Anthony Springer Jr

Rosholt tapped immediately.

Sadollah batters the “Bad Ass!”

Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah put on an MMA clinic en route to a unanimous decision victory over the “New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni in the night’s first main card bout.

Sadollah weathered the initial storm, surviving a flurry of big punches from the veteran Baroni. Despite a strong early showing, conditioning proved—once again—to be Baroni’s undoing. Midway through the first round, the “Bad Ass” had next to nothing left in the tank.

The iron chinned Sadollah took over from there, punishing Baroni in the clinch with knees that opened up a nasty cut near the eye of Baroni.

Rounds two and three proved to be all Sadollah all the time. The _ native opened up his striking arsenal, damaging Baroni with kicks to the legs, stomach and face.

The fight looked to be over in the third round after Sadollah came straight down the middle with a Superman punch that sent Baroni spiraling back into the Octagon cage. The big right hand was followed up with more hard shots, but Baroni remained resilient—though he could barely stand and keep his hands up.

Sadollah finished the bout strong, pinning Baroni into the cage to deliver his final parting shots.

The judges scored the bout 30-27 (twice) and 29-28.- Anthony Springer J

 

 


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