Wednesday, 25 November 2009

UFC 106 Ortiz v Griffin 2 on ESPN - TV Review

The prodigal son has returned, with Tito Ortiz making his long awaited comeback to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, facing his old rival Forrest Griffin in the main event of UFC 106: Ortiz v Griffin 2, shown live here in Britain in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN, with Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan handling commentary duties.

The broadcast began with the preliminary fights, beginning with a middleweight encounter between Kendall Grove and Jake Rosholt. This proved to be a very good opener. Rosholt got a couple of big slams in, and looked good in the early part of the fight, but as is often the case the momentum changed in an instant, with Grove synching in an arm triangle for the submission win. Nice work from both fighters here.

Then it was the turn of the Australian lightweight, George Sotiropoulos, as he went up against Jason Dent. Although Dent managed to put in some good work here, the Aussie was just that much better in all departments, and as the fight progressed into the second round it came as no surprise when he got the submission win courtesy of an arm bar. Sotiropoulos really impressed me here, and I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of reception he’ll get when the UFC ventures down under for the first time next year. I’m also looking forward to George’s next fight as well.

Welterweight action followed, with the always watchable Marcus Davis facing Ben Saunders. Well, I say always watchable, but the Irish Hand Grenade had an off night here. Davis looked good early on, but it wasn’t long before Saunders upped his game with some great looking knees in the clinch, and it was a right knee that saw of Davis as Saunders secured the knockout win, capping off an impressive performance.

The final fight of the preliminary show saw more welterweight action, with Brock Larson and Brian Foster. With the UFC’s other famous Brock recovering at home after surgery, this Brock proved to be just as controversial with two rule infringements in the first round. The first came when he connected with an up-kick to Foster’s head while Foster was still on the ground. Moments later he connected with a knee to Foster’s head while his hand was down on the mat, which meant that he ended the round with two less points. Foster did well to recover in the second round though, and after a couple of periods of ground and pound he secured the TKO win. Larson had clearly been put off by what had happened in the first round, but as the old saying goes, rules are rules, and kudos to Foster for recovering in the way he did.

The first fight on the main show continued the welterweight action with Amir Sadollah facing the returning Phil Baroni. The former Ultimate Fighter obviously didn’t read the script here. Although the New York Bad Ass put in a good performance, Sadollah always seemed one step ahead as Baroni began to look tired in the second round. Sadollah’s kicks looked awesome, as did his clinch work, and it was enough to earn the unanimous decision from the judges, proving that these UFC judges can get things right from time to time.

Debut time next, with the other Nogueira, Antonio Rogerio, who for some reason is also known as Minotaur, facing Luiz Cane in light heavyweight action. Little Nog put in an impressive performance here, getting the first round win after knocking Cane down with a big left, before going in for the ground and pound. The referee quickly stepped in, giving Nogueira the TKO win.

After a replay of the Marcus Davis/Ben Saunders fight, more welterweight action followed, with Paulo Thiago taking on Jacob Volkman. This was an enjoyable back and forth encounter, and another one of those fights were both men looked good, but one man was just a tad better than the other. Both fighters put in some good work, but on the night Thiago was the top man as the fight went the three round distance, getting the unanimous nod from the judges.

Even more welterweight action followed the replay of the Kendall Grove/Jake Rosholt fight, with Josh Koscheck and Anthony Johnson. As with the Larson/Foster fight, this one will be remembered for it’s controversy. In the first round Johnson hit Koscheck with a knee to the head while he was down, losing a point in the process, but this particular blow left the commentators and those of us watching at home rather confused. Johnson’s blow connected with Koscheck’s right eye, but afterwards he complained of blurry vision in his left eye. It certainly left me scratching my head a little. Despite this apparent injury Koscheck came back well in the second, busting Johnson open with his ground and pound before getting the submission with a rear naked choke. Good work from Koscheck here. Sadly though we didn’t get the low down on his right/left eye injury during the post-fight interview, as Koscheck seemed more intent on telling everyone that he, and not Dan Hardy, should get a shot at the welterweight title next.

The main event saw the return of former light heavyweight king Tito Ortiz, as he went up against Forrest Griffin for a second time. A lot was expected of this one after their previous encounter, and this fight certainly delivered. Ortiz looked great in the early stages, showing absolutely no signs of ring rust, although Griffin was able to keep up with him. As the fight went on Griffin began to get into his stride, with his kicks in particular looking particularly devastating. Ortiz continued to look good as well, but whenever he took Griffin down and went for the ground and pound Griffin showed some great defensive work. But when the third and final round started, Ortiz looked like a completely different person, on the back foot for the majority of the round as Griffin was able to strike at will. So with the fight going the three round distance, the judges were called into action, and they gave the split decision to Griffin, a fair decision, because Ortiz was wilting badly in that final round, which was unusual for him considering his normally top notch conditioning. As for Griffin, it was a tremendous performance, especially considering the loss he’d suffered at the hands of Anderson Silva in his previous fight. The judges did okay too!

A replay of the George Sotiropoulos/Jason Dent fight rounded off the show.

In conclusion - well, I think it’s pretty obvious what I’m going to say here, isn’t it? This was another strong effort from the UFC here. The action was so good throughout that you kind of forgot that Brock Lesnar was meant to be defending his Heavyweight title against Shane Carwin on this show. The Koscheck/Johnson and Larson/Foster fights were a little disappointing because of the rule infringements, but overall it was a strong show with some strong action, so kudos to Dana White and the boys for this one.

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