Forrest Griffin (18-7, 9-5 UFC) vs. Tito Ortiz (16-10-1, 15-10-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Ortiz is looking for the perfect ending to a 27-fight career in the Octagon as one of the promotion’s most significant and marketable figures. As recognition for his accomplishments, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” will be inducted into the UFC hall of fame the night before UFC 148, an honor that is well-deserved given his impact on the sport. The lifetime achievement award does not come with a guaranteed victory on fight night, as Griffin figures to be far from charitable in attempting to capture the rubber match between two of the UFC’s most popular athletes. Griffin’s appearances have become less and less frequent over the years, and perhaps “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 winner might be close to calling it a career himself. A devastating loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 134 demonstrated that he is much further removed from the 205-pound title picture than he was several years ago.
The previous fights between these two have both been tooth-and-and nail, split-decision affairs; Ortiz got the best of Griffin when the Ohio native was fresh off the reality show at UFC 52, and Griffin topped the former champion in a main event clash at UFC 106. Outside of his stunning upset against Ryan Bader last July, Ortiz has not beaten anyone other than Ken Shamrock since 2006. Wear and tear have taken their toll over the years, and the Team Punishment founder has found it more and more difficult to implement his vaunted wrestling on opponents as a result.
While not the most gifted athlete, Griffin has managed to stay afloat thanks to a tireless work ethic and a steady work rate inside the Octagon. He has been battered by the likes of Rashad Evans, Anderson Silva and Rua in recent losses, but Ortiz does not possess the type of firepower to truly test his chin. The Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts representative has better footwork and crisper striking than Ortiz, and he will use that to stay busy and rack up points on the feet.
As usual, Ortiz’s hopes rest with his ability to successfully execute takedowns. He was able to get Griffin to the canvas on several occasions in their last bout, but the younger fighter’s underappreciated ground game allowed him to eventually get to his feet each time. That approach proved to be draining for Ortiz, and he became obviously fatigued as the bout advanced into the final frame. Considering Griffin’s sheer size and his own eroding skills, it will be even more difficult for Ortiz to implement a similar game plan now.
The Pick: Griffin might very well find himself on his back at some point, but do not expect it to last for long. The majority of the bout will be contested on the feet, where Griffin can land punching combinations, as well as front kicks and leg kicks. Griffin wins by unanimous decision.
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