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Forrest Griffin wins split decision over Tito Ortiz

Griffin wins rematch of 2006 bout between former UFC light-heavyweight champions.

November 22, 2009|By Lance Pugmire
  • Forrest Griffin, right, dominated Tito Ortiz in the final round of their light-heavyweight bout on his way to claiming a split decision Saturday night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Forrest Griffin, right, dominated Tito Ortiz in the final round of their… (Isaac Brekken / Associated…)

Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz have weathered so much between their first meeting in 2006 and the renewal that came Saturday night.

A title won and lost by Griffin. A career-threatening back injury by Ortiz. A bitter contract split between Ortiz and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. A loss that Griffin admitted "broke me" just earlier this year.

That's why the UFC put these two in the main event of UFC 106 Saturday night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, to see who had what left.

Griffin (17-6-1) had more, winning a split decision by outworking Ortiz (16-7) in the decisive third and final round. Judges Lester Griffith (30-27) and Marcos Rosales (29-28) gave the fight to Griffin, and judge Glenn Trowbridge awarded Ortiz a 29-28 edge.

"It's 1-1, we'll have to do a third," Griffin told Ortiz afterward, referring to the fight Ortiz won narrowly by decision in Anaheim in 2006.

"Forrest showed great heart, he put on a great show," Ortiz said in the octagon, drawing some sneers when he mentioned that he has battled through some recent back pain and a "cracked skull" suffered in a recent sparring session. "I put a show on!" Ortiz answered. "Were you guys satisfied?"

Applause followed.

It was a fight that allowed the former light-heavyweight champions to show there was some talent remaining. Ortiz hadn't fought in the UFC since May 2008, when his contract expired after a loss to current light-heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida and wasn't immediately renewed. He still hasn't won a UFC bout since October 2006.

Griffin entered dealing with his own baggage -- back-to-back losses in which he surrendered his belt to Rashad Evans, then got badly beaten by current middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

The bout started with Ortiz taking a right-handed punch standing up, but he charged and landed his own right.

Ortiz rallied in the second round, taking down Griffin and smacking him with elbows. Griffin kicked Ortiz in the mouth, knocking out his mouthpiece. But Ortiz shot at Griffin again and sent some elbows and fists to Griffin's face on the mat. Griffin was already cut under the left eye when a nasty cut gushed open above his right eye.

The damage didn't bother Griffin in the final round. He dominated the last five minutes by blitzing Ortiz with hard rights to the face and combinations that included hard shots to the body and tough kicks to the left leg. Ortiz was cut under the left eye in the round.

Josh Koscheck won the co-main event by second-round rear naked chokehold in a welterweight clash against Anthony Johnson that will put the winner in prime position for a title shot at champion Georges St-Pierre.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

Pugmire reported from Los Angeles.

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