Tito Ortiz. Say what you want to about him (all MMA fans have their opinion), but there's no doubting that the guy sells tickets. Ortiz is only 34-years-old but it seems like he's been around forever. He carried the sport on his shoulders during it's dark era before Zuffa began to bring the sport to prominence. Ortiz recently had surgery that he claims will see him return to the form that sustained his world championship run several years ago. To take that next step, he'll have a tough customer to defeat. In fact, this matchup is much more intriguing than the original matchup that was scheduled between he and Mark Coleman. Coleman's injury paved the way for this fight between two former world champions. So which Ortiz will we see? He and the folks around him insist that he still has the talent to perform at the highest level. I can't wait to find out if he does. There are stats that one could point to as evidence that Ortiz is done as a top-level light heavyweight. One thing worth noting, however: In his last UFC match, he gave Lyoto Machida a nice fight (in my opinion). Now, let's see if he can get back in the win column. Ortiz has a professional record of 15-6-1 with eight wins coming by way of knockout and two wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 70.3%.
Forrest Griffin is almost the anti-star. Whereas Tito almost exudes a larger than life persona and embraces the limelight and attention, Griffin comes across as a guy that is just along for the ride. He enjoys the perks that come with being a UFC fighter, but he doesn't need them. And that is exactly why many have embraced him. Win or lose, the 30-year-old Griffin will always have a following of fans that root for him. It's hard not to appreciate a guy that will fight absolutely anyone, a guy that will test himself and leave it all in the cage. And on top of all that? The guy is funny and loves to interact with the fans. The big question I have is: Can Griffin put his August loss to Anderson Silva behind him? When you fight great competition, such things will occasionally happen. I'm anxious to see if we see a focused Griffin in this match. I'm betting that the guys at Xtreme Couture will have a good gameplan for Forrest coming into this one. Griffin has a professional record of 16-6 with three wins coming by way of knockout and seven wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 76.2%.
Can Tito turn back the clock? This was the toughest matchup for me to come up with a prediction for. One difference that I've noticed in Tito's performances in recent years as opposed to his prime is that he often seems to telegraph his shots lately. And sometimes he attempts to shoot from too far out. He appears to have had some trouble gauging the distance when it comes to setting up his takedowns. I'm sure that is due to his limited explosiveness due to recent injuries. Supposedly all that is behind him now. We'll find out on Saturday night, I suppose. I'm guessing that this one will go to the scorecards. I see Griffin coming out and landing some nice leg kicks. One thing Griffin does really well is keep moving. He'll probably make Tito look to walk him down. Will Griffin's chin hold out? Will Tito return to form? Either way, a fighter that can sell tickets will walk away as the winner at UFC 106. My prediction: Forrest Griffin by decision. What say you?