UFC 106 Post-Mortem: Ortiz’s Cutting Class, Koscheck’s Politics, More

By Jake Rossen Nov 23, 2009
If you believe Tito Ortiz’s post-fight confessional Saturday, it has become virtually impossible to defeat him without Ortiz starting the job himself. Cracked orbital, dislodged vertebrae, a washout training camp: one half-expected to see him wheeled out to the post-fight press conference in an iron lung.

In addition to obliterating his credibility, Ortiz’s admissions may have left some fans feeling downright defrauded: his main event with Forrest Griffin hinged on his claim that his back -- surgically repaired after years of problems -- was no longer an issue and he was in fine fighting form. (It was, it still is, and he was not.)

“I’ve been training pretty hard -- six days a week, eight hours a day -- and my body is at 100% with no more back problems,” he told AskMen.com this month, one of dozens of interviews repeating the same thing. In the fight, he looked rusty, tentative, and unable to counter Griffin’s gangling-frame attack. Some cutting elbows -- which caused Griffin to bleed impressively -- may have kept the fight from becoming a complete embarrassment for him.

There is now talk of Griffin and Ortiz coaching an eleventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which sounds like something that should play in rotation in the seventh circle of hell. Aside from a strong first round by Ortiz in 2006 and some brief moments of positional control, Griffin has proved conclusively that he can out-scramble and out-strike this particular opponent. Enough already.

Next for Ortiz: A lesson explaining that post-fight bellyaching -- no matter how true -- only leaves you choking on sour grapes; maybe a fight with Rich Franklin.

Next for Griffin: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who looked sharp in his UFC debut against Luis Arthur Cane.

Next for Josh Koscheck: A rematch with Paulo Thiago, who worked over Jacob Volkmann Saturday.

Next for Amir Sadollah: Matt Brown or Ben Saunders; a mirror that lets him see what his barber has been doing to the back of his head.


Awards


The Mike Tyson Amateur Physician Award: Tito Ortiz, for declaring his training for Forrest Griffin was marred by a “fractured skull” and a “THX 1138 protruding vertebrae.” Or something.

The Mediator Award: Griffin, for attempting to use some of his crowd stroke by interrupting Ortiz’s oral gravedigging routine and telling fans that fighters get hurt training.

The Invitation-to-Re-Engineer Award: Mixed martial arts gloves, for allowing no less than four eye pokes during Saturday’s event. Virgin Atlantic is prepping sub-orbital civilian space flights by 2012 and we can’t find a glove that reduces the chances of corneal trauma?

The Broken-Record Award: Phil Baroni, for swearing yet again that he’d figured out his training woes and will use his opponent for target practice. You know the words by now: sing along next time.


New Questions


Can Tito Ortiz rally?

Ortiz looked flat and slow against Forrest Griffin, twelve years of ring wear and recurring spinal issues crumbling his offense into a fading carbon copy of what it once was. Naturally, he’ll try to convince fans that his next fight will be better, that he’s a new (or old) Ortiz, and that his performance will be well worth their $44.95. My advice: Inquire about refund terms before purchasing.

Does the UFC appreciate Josh Koscheck’s unsolicited opinion?

Fresh off an impressive victory over Anthony Johnson, Koscheck used his camera and microphone time to criticize Dan Hardy’s pending title shot. (And in saying Hardy “never fought anybody,” he may have bummed out training partner Mike Swick.) For a company with few options for Georges St. Pierre, Koscheck attempting to discredit Hardy may not have been preferable to some out-of-breath sponsor plugs.

How seriously should we take Ben Saunders?

He could’ve used a win against Swick last June, but Ben Saunders has exceeded expectations by showing some absolutely devastating Thai-clinch work against Brandon Wolff and a notoriously durable Marcus Davis. (Saunders understands how to use a long, rangy frame for maximum effect, a body/style marriage that not every fighter picks up on as well as he should.) He could be growing into a real problem at 170 -- assuming the Thai plum isn’t the only trick he’s worked out.

What’s motivating some of the UFC’s recent signing choices?

Despite being bounced from the promotion years ago, Frank Trigg, Phil Baroni, Caol Uno and Dennis Hallman have all been re-signed this year. Baroni and Trigg were obliterated: Uno collected a draw in his fight Saturday with Fabricio Camoes. If the idea is that each fight could conceivably see someone take a step closer to a title bid, none of these athletes are facing that direction; if the idea is to dull the shine on competing rosters by scooping up and then abusing talent, it’s working out nicely.

Etc.
A week after Manchester hosted over 16,000 fans, only 10,529 were seated in the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the event, calling into question Ortiz’s drawing power after an extended absence…Josh Koscheck and Anthony Johnson split a $140,000 Fight of the Night bonus salary; some believe that should’ve been signed over to Jacob Volkmann and Paulo Thiago. Koschek/Johnson, while sloppier thanks to the repeated fouling, was more competitive and had more energy. Koscheck also collected $70,000 for Submission of the Night…Judge Lester Griffin took some post-fight criticism by UFC President Dana White following his 30-27 scorecard for Forrest Griffin. According to CompuStrike, Griffin landed twice as many strikes (100) as Ortiz in the bout. “Don’t leave it to the judges” is a nicely macho concept, but it ignores how incredibly tough and durable athletes at a high level can be. I don’t think MMA judges have done anything as heinous as boxing’s fiction writers ringside, but that day seems to be coming closer.
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