Patchwork UFC 106 sees Griffin defeat Ortiz

jenna-jameson-tito-ortiz-3

By Chad Wuttke

When the event was announced, we were looking at Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin in the main event.  An illness to Lesnar postponed the match and we were given Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin as the new main event.  A fight with two big names, but also two losing streaks.

Ortiz returned to the UFC after 18 months of bickering with Dana White, impregnating his pornstar wife Jenna Jameson, back surgery, a failed stint on The Apprentice, and an embarrassing showing as an commentator for Affliction. (search youtube for “Tito + mic =”)

Forrest Griffin returned to the octagon following losses to Rashad Evans and Anderson Silva and was desperate for a victory.  The former champion was tooled around the cage in his last performance against Silva and needed a fight to boost his confidence.MMA UFC 106 Ortiz Forrest 20091119

Enter Tito Ortiz.

The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, who made his UFC debut in 1997 at UFC 13, has always been known for selling a fight and he did his best despite apparently having a fractured skull (if you saw the event, you saw his black eye).  Although his legacy will someday be cemented in the UFC Hall of Fame, Ortiz hasn’t tasted victory inside the cage in over three years.  Time has caught up to Ortiz’s trademark takedown, and without top level standup, Ortiz has become a one-trick-pony.  Many in the business feel the 2009 version of Ortiz is outdated and irrelevant.

These two met once before at UFC 59 where Ortiz grinded out a controversial split decision victory.  The rematch would be eerily similar some three and a half years later.

Ortiz’s only way to win this fight was to utilize his wrestling skills and deliver some vintage ground and pound and that’s just what he did for the better part of the first two rounds.  Ortiz didn’t do much damage until the second round when he landed some brutal elbow strikes which gave us all a chance to  see Griffin’s trademark, blood.

After two hotly contested rounds, Griffin turned it up in the third round by stuffing a sluggish takedown attempt from Ortiz and unleashing some solid punching combinations of his own.  Ortiz threw maybe three punches in the third round and seemed content with dragging it to a decision.  Seeing Ortiz offer nothing in the third, it was disappointing to see Forrest not finish Ortiz in the fashion he did against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.   Still, the fight went to the judges and Griffin was awarded a split decision victory.

That’s two fights and two split decision victories for each.  It looks like we may see Ortiz-Griffin 3 in the future and if Ortiz had his wish, we might see these two as coaches on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter.

The night’s co-main event saw two young guns with title aspirations lock horns in what turned out to be a battle of eye pokes and illegal strikes.  Josh Koschek and his annoying smugness faced off against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and his 220 pound frame in a welterweight contender match.

Rumble started the fight by utilizing his reach advantage by landing a number of stinging leg kicks.  Koschek, who has faced a who’s who in the division, remained patient and was able to avoid any sizable damage.  The fight changed however following an illegal knee from Johnson to a downed Koschek and Rumble was deducted a point for the infraction.  Koschek returned with two accidental eye pokes of his own in the second round and followed with his bread and butter, ground and pound.  Koschek dropped a series of elbows and when Johnson gave him his back, Koschek locked in a rear naked choke for the victory.

Following the fight, Koschek called out UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, a man he lost to at UFC 74.  With GSP already locked into a fight with Dan Hardy, Koschek will perhaps be looking at another rematch against a fighter who was also victorious at UFC 106, Paulo Thiago.

Another fight with title implications saw Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (known as Lil Nog in the forums) face off against blue chip prospect Luis Arthur Cane.  It was Nogueira’s night as the younger brother of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira used his boxing skills to knockout Cane with a vicious left hand.

With such a devastating knockout in his UFC debut, Lil Nog now thrusts himself into title contention.  Fights with Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin, or Thiago Silva could be in his future.

Belfort, Franklin set to meet at UFC 103

ufc103

By Chad Wuttke

Now that we’ve all recovered from the comedy-turned-bloodbath debut of The Ultimate Fighter 10, we can focus on UFC 103. While this main event fight doesn’t jump off the screen, it is an intriguing bout that could provide a defining moment in the careers of two legendary fighters, Rich Franklin and Vitor Belfort.

Rich Franklin enters this catch-weight bout as a man without a weight division. Following his decision victory over Wanderlei Silva, Franklin still remains a main event fighter with title aspirations. The question is, what weight class?

Having lost twice to middleweight champion Anderson Silva and subsequently moving up to the light heavyweight division with mixed results, Franklin now fights his second fight in a row at a catch-weight of 195 pounds. There is no 195 pound division, so unless one is created, Franklin will have to face the daunting task of moving up to the stacked light heavyweight division where he will surely face both strength and size disadvantages. efrain

Until his hand is forced, Franklin will continue to be fed top 10 ranked opponents and his next opponent is as dangerous as they come.

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort returns to the UFC after two spectacular knockout victories over Matt Lindland and Terry Martin in the now defunct Affliction promotion. Riding that momentum, Belfort now seeks to reestablish himself as a contender in the UFC’s middleweight division.

With his career once again rejuvenated, “The Phenom” is looking to capture the magic he once had when he debuted at UFC 12 over a decade ago. Then only 19, Belfort brought skills to the UFC that fans had never seen before. A black belt in jiu-jitsu with hand speed comparable to Roy Jones Jr., Belfort seemed to be on a path to super-stardom.

Inconsistency inside and outside of the ring have derailed the Belfort train over the years. Performances like the 44 second destruction of Wanderlei Silva and the one-sided loss to Kazushi Sakuraba have left fans asking; “What Vitor will show up?” Now training at Xtreme Couture, Belfort seems to have overcome many of those questions. Still, Belfort has a history of coming up short against top competition and Franklin is definitely a top tier fighter.

In the night’s co-main event, former Pride headhunter Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic takes on the UFC’s latest blue chip prospect, Junior dos Santos. Cro Cop returns to the UFC with a new three fight contract after a controversial victory over Mostapha Al-Turk at UFC ’99 in Germany. In the fight, Cro Cop used an accidental double eye poke to eventually overwhelm Al-Turk for a TKO victory. Cro Cop needs a better performance if he wants to get back in the fan’s good graces. His devastating knockouts in the Pride organization seem like a distant memory.

Junior dos Santos enters the cage riding a wave of momentum. His colossal uppercut knockout of Fabricio Werdum put Dos Santos on the map and after another win at UFC 95 over Steven Struve, dos Santos now looks to move from prospect to contender. A win over a legend like Cro Cop would do just that.

Originally slated as a number one contender match, Martin Kampmann now faces British striker Paul Daley in just a “contender” match after Mike Swick was forced to drop out due to injury. Kampmann holds a robust 15-2 record with a good mixture of knockouts and submissions to his credit while Daley is making his first appearance in the UFC following numerous contests in promotions such as Cage Rage, Strikeforce, and Elite-XC.

Also featured on the main card is a bout between standout wrestlers, Frank Trigg and Josh Koscheck. The 37 year old Trigg, who owns the worst nickname in MMA, Twinkle Toes, makes his return to the UFC after a 4 year hiatus.

Josh Koscheck will be looking to bounce back after being upset by Paulo Thiago at UFC 95. The four-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler has attempted to become more of a standup fighter recently with mixed results.

ufc-103

In what sets up to be the fight of the night, Tyson Griffin takes on Hermes Franca in an entertaining lightweight tussle. The Xtreme Couture trained Griffin has won five “fight of the night” awards in his last 7 fights.

Also known as an entertaining fighter, Franca brings both exciting Jiu-Jitsu and an awkwardly efficient overhand right to the cage. Following a win over Marcus Aurelio at UFC 90, Franca tore his ACL and had to pull out of a fight with Joe Lauzon. A fight with Griffin will be a solid test for Franca and his rehabilitated knee and will also be a telling sign of where these two fighters stand in a talent rich lightweight division.

UFC Media Coverage Rules- Dana’s World

danawhite

By Chad Wuttke

The growth of MMA has brought the sport ever closer to the mainstream, and at this critical time, the relationship between MMA promotions and the media is increasingly important.  Exposure through the internet has taken a back seat to more traditional forms of media thanks to some procedural, and sometimes political, changes. Recent moves by UFC President Dana White appear to have catered to the print media, or what he calls, “real media”.  As a result, the internet is often left with only table scraps.  The question is, when will Dana warm up to the internet?

A recent article titled “Dana White vs. Internet Media” (see: WatchKalibRun.com) urges Dana White to allow more internet media coverage and also let internet reporters be credentialed at UFC events.  The problem lies with that fact that the article is the same type of self-serving content that Dana White is talking about.  There are literally dozens and possibly hundreds of goofy-titled websites dedicated to MMA.  Is everyone entitled to a piece of the UFC pie?

First, a general question:  How do you become a “member of the media?”  Can anyone start a website to air their thoughts on MMA and call themselves “media?”  We’re now talking about potentially thousands of bloggers out there who claim to be media and feel entitled to access that the general public isn’t given.

Sure, consumers need content, and the masses will go to reliable and credible content before they go to biased providers.  White has stated before that he reads the forums and realizes there are some intelligent things being written, and some things that are utterly insane.  Point is, those are fans being fans, not fans being reporters.

Dana White isn’t stupid.  The UFC was bought for 2 million dollars in 2001 and is now worth over a billion.  He has a track record of being one step ahead of everyone else in the MMA realm.  Let’s not forget, he is the CEO of a business.  He’s got the UFC’s best interests in mind and will do whatever it takes to protect its image and its future.  We’ve all learned that when you burn a bridge with Dana White, you don’t build it back.  The website Sherdog.com knows that all too well and an episode not so long ago may be the best demonstration of why White is skittish when it comes to the internet.

Dana White has long maintained a Chris Brown/Rihanna style relationship with the internet media; particularly with Sherdog.  White says it’s because of numerous backstabbing moments by Sherdog, including one time in which they outright threatened to cover more Pride than UFC.

rihanna1

The issue hit its peak when Dana White unleashed a tirade against Loretta Hunt and Sherdog after Hunt wrote an article depicting Dana White driving a wedge between fighters and their managers and/or agents.  The controversial rant included 42 f-bombs and a certain gay slur that Dana White was forced to apologize for.  The video went viral and it led to hundreds of “Is Dana White bad for the UFC?” write-ups in both print and online.  Soon after, UFC 100 broke every MMA pay-per-view record there was, proving Dana’s antics left no lasting impression.

So, when will Dana White warm up to the internet?  Bottom line:  He doesn’t have to.
Dana White owns the younger demographic.  With aspirations of being the biggest sport in the world, Dana White needs to appeal to the older audience.  What better way to do that than by pandering to sportswriters.  The UFC hasn’t crossed into mainstream media like the NFL or MLB have.  It isn’t a day-to-day topic of conversation on Sportscenter.  Highly regarded sportswriters like Woody Paige, Bob Ryan and Rick Reilly probably don’t even know what MMA stands for, let alone have a roundtable discussion about who the best heavyweight fighter in the world is.  Clearly, the UFC still has many hills to climb, but some sports TV and radio staples like Jim Rome and Jay Glazer are already welcoming MMA as an equal among more traditional sports.  danawhite_boxing

Changes are happening everyday in regards to how we receive our news.  Local TV stations, radio outlets and newspapers are all seeing their profits dwindle as more and more people get their information from the net.  These days everyone seems to have a blog or website.  It’s an issue that will continue to be bounced around the blogs for years.  Dana White has to remember where his bread is buttered and everyone knows the internet is eventually going to be king.  So, by ignoring the internet audience now, he may be risking a serious backlash later.  But for now, it’s Dana’s world, and we’re all just going to have to live in it.