By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, November 21 – After Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz’ two fights together, one thing has been made crystal clear – it’s an almost impossible task to separate the two former light heavyweight champions. Saturday night’s rematch at the Mandalay Bay Events Center was the latest example, as Griffin avenged his split decision loss to Ortiz in 2006 with a split decision win of his own over ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ in the main event of UFC 106.
Scores were 30-27, 29-28, and 28-29 for Griffin, 17-6, who rebounded from an August loss to Anderson Silva. Ortiz, 16-7-1, was competing for the first time in 18 months thanks to spinal fusion surgery he underwent late last year. He is winless in four fights with three losses and one draw since his October 2006 stoppage of Ken Shamrock.
“Tito was a great fight for me, I think we’re gonna have to do a third – it’s 1-1,” said Griffin.
“Forrest came with a lot of heart and he put on a great show tonight,” said Ortiz. “He’s the better man tonight.”
With the crowd alternating cheers for each fighter, Ortiz opened the bout with some wide strikes that showed the effects of being out of action since May of 2008. As the round progressed though, Ortiz started to find his range, and once he did, he shot in for – and got – a takedown. While there, Ortiz fired away, but Griffin took his time and got back to his feet before he took too much damage. The two then locked up against the fence, with Griffin able to push off and get out of trouble. The combatants proceeded to trade punches, with Griffin starting to land with more frequency, and the Las Vegan also eluded Ortiz’ next takedown attempt with ease before finishing the round strong with strikes.
Ortiz and Griffin began round two with haymakers that missed the mark, but Ortiz was on with his next offensive move as he put Griffin on his back with a quick takedown. Griffin did a good job of keeping Ortiz close, and as the two neared the fence, Griffin was able to get to his feet. While standing, Griffin was starting to get sharper, even knocking Ortiz’ mouthpiece out with a kick, and Ortiz was beginning to look winded. Suddenly though, Ortiz sprung into action with a lightning quick takedown, and he began to find room for his punches and elbows, cutting Griffin over the right eye in the process. In the final 30 seconds, Griffin sprung back into action, reversing position as he ended the round with a ground and pound assault of his own.
Griffin came out fast in round three, scoring with punches and a kick to the head as the crowd chanted his name. Ortiz fired back sporadically, but did little damage as Griffin was seemingly getting stronger as the fight progressed. With three minutes left, Ortiz tried to turn the tide with a takedown, but Griffin easily tossed him back and resumed his increasingly effective standup attack, one that carried him through the last round of the fight and sealed his victory.