The Weekly Wrap: Nov. 21 - Nov. 27

Top Story

By Jack Encarnacao Nov 29, 2009
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.

Top Story

From the pre-fight histrionics to the post-fight verbiage, Tito Ortiz made sure his first fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship after an 18-month absence was, though a loss, something to talk about. The fight created a natural segue into what would likely be lucrative rubber match against Forrest Griffin.

Griffin took a split decision over Ortiz in the main event of UFC 106 on Nov. 21 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, using a diverse striking attack and strong grappling defense to keep the UFC cash cow out of his element for most of the fight. By the time it was over, Griffin, who entered the arena in tongue-in-cheek fashion to the 1997 hit “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba, had completely restored his stature coming off a humiliating loss to Anderson Silva.

The fight, a rematch of a 2006 clash that Ortiz won by split decision, took place before 10,529 fans, which translated into a $3 million gate. Only 6,631 of those were paying customers, as the UFC comped $2.3 million worth of 3,898 additional tickets for the event. That's an appreciably lower paid attendance than the company's last two recent events at Mandalay Bay, as UFC 100 sold 9,793 tickets and UFC 86 (Forrest Griffin vs. Quinton Jackson) sold 9,630 tickets.

Griffin got off the better strikes in the first, mostly with solid jabs and leg kicks. Ortiz got one takedown in the frame but Griffin was able to use a Kimura attempt to sweep out of the position. Ortiz shot another successful double in the second round and cut Griffin in the corner of his right eye, but a bloodied Griffin again managed to sweep to close out the round in dramatic fashion. Ortiz, who said later he was gassed going into the final frame, struggled to get anything going in the third, as he was mostly a sitting duck for Griffin's straight punches and kicks.

Griffin was awarded the split decision, with one baffling 30-27 Griffin scorecard from judge Glenn Trowbridge. The blogosphere, in what is becoming a tradition in the wake of UFC main events, skewered the scorecard that gave all three rounds to Griffin. Discontent was widespread, with Ortiz stating repeatedly he was "robbed" in a post-fight press conference. Neither fighter was robbed in the pocketbook; both Griffin and Ortiz took home event-high $250,000 disclosed paydays, not including whatever cuts of pay-per-view revenue they may have had pre-arranged with the promotion.

Though he claimed before the fight he was returning in top shape following a back operation, Ortiz said post-fight that he entered the cage with two bulging discs and a "cracked skull" that manifested itself in a black eye. Griffin, who came in with a broken foot, stepped to the microphone in defense of Ortiz as fans booed. Ortiz complained at the post-fight press conference, bringing a knowing smile to the face of Ortiz's longtime friend/enemy Dana White. The savvy Ortiz was lining up a rematch with Griffin seconds after the final horn sounded, and said White was talking to him about coaching the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter” prior to the bout.

Elsewhere at UFC 106, Josh Koscheck got his foot back in the door in the welterweight title picture, overcoming Anthony Johnson's five-inch reach advantage to submit "Rumble" with a second-round rear-naked choke.

Koscheck took a finger in the eye in the first round prior to Johnson throwing an illegal knee. The foul caused a pause in the action for a doctor's opinion, but referee Mario Yamasaki allowed the fight to resume. Koscheck got a takedown and kept control until the end of the first round. He drove through with another in the second round and slowly worked his way into the choke. The win earned Koscheck $140,000 in extra coin on top of his $106,000 purse, as he picked up a bonus for best submission and fight of the night. Koscheck said he'd be ready to fight again as soon as January and would fight as many as 12 times next year if possible.

Koscheck, who took the fight three weeks ago, cut a galvanizing interview after the win, calling Dan Hardy a false No. 1 contender and campaigned for either fight with the Brit to determine the next challenger for Georges St. Pierre or a bout with the champion himself. Dana White stated afterward that the next welterweight title fight remains GSP vs. Hardy. The latest word was the fight may take place in March on a card in New Jersey.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira made an emphatic UFC debut, catching Luis Arthur Cane with two left hooks, one that stunned and disrupted Cane and another that put him down for the first TKO loss of his career. The victory, which came about two minutes into the fight, puts Nogueira solidly in the mix at light heavyweight, a division where friend Lyoto Machida reigns. Ed Soares, manager of both fighters, has said allegiances would be put aside so that title fight could happen, though Nogueira told Sherdog.com the fight would be "very difficult" to realize. Nogueira took home a $70,000 knockout bonus on top of his $100,000 purse.

In other main card action, Phil Baroni's return to the Octagon after a nearly five-year absence ended up a showcase for the muay Thai of Amir Sadollah, as the season seven "Ultimate Fighter" champion hacked away at the New Yorker with a diverse array of kicks, knees and elbows. Sadollah was awarded the unanimous decision.

Greg Nelson charge Jacob Volkmann made a spirited UFC debut but lost to Paulo Thiago, as the Brazilian’s heavy punches rocked the three-time All American wrestler on several occasions and paced Thiago to a unanimous decision. Volkmann stayed dangerous in the fight, snaking in a brabo choke attempt in the last seconds.

There were no decisions on Spike TV, as nothing but finishes came on a preliminary card special that preceded the pay-per-view, the third time the UFC aired preliminary fights on free television. Benefiting from the exposure were victors Brian Foster, Ben Saunders, George Sotiropoulos, and Kendall Grove.

Saunders' first round knockout of Marcus Davis with knees from the Thai clinch, Grove's first-round triangle submission of Jake Rosholt and Sotiropoulos’ second-round armbar of Jason Dent also made air on the pay-per-view broadcast. Foster's second-round TKO win over Brock Larson saw a rare 10-7 round in the first, as Larson was deducted two points for illegal strikes. Foster, a big underdog, picked up his first UFC win in fashion, pummeling Larson on the ground and catching the veteran with an uppercut as he shot in that led to the finish. Larson was cut from the UFC after the loss.

The special drew an average of 1.3 million viewers on Spike TV, a tick below the 1.4 million average for the 103 and 104 preliminary specials. A "Countdown" special for the card on Spike TV drew 445,000 average viewers on its first airing, according to MMAPayout.com, right at what Spike TV has been averaging for the specials since UFC 102.
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>
Around The Web