Photo by Al Bello via Getty Images
Four years is a long time to think about one of the worst losses of your career.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua finally had the opportunity to avenge his UFC 76 loss to Forrest Griffin in the co-main event of UFC 134 last night (August 27, 2011) as the UFC returned to Brazil and boy, did he take out his frustration on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season one winner's head.
The final result was a technical knockout victory for "Shogun" less than two minutes into the bout.
So what was different about this fight compared to the first time around when Griffin handled the Brazilian en route to a submission victory and where do both men go from here?
Let's find out:
In the first fight, Griffin was scrambling on the ground with Rua within the first 15 seconds. This led to some exhausting ground transitions that ended up completely gassing out "Shogun" by the mid-point of the second round. So did the TUF winner attempt to recreate history this time around?
Not a chance -- and it cost him dearly.
Griffin opened with a weak inside leg kick that fell short of its target and had absolutely nothing on it. He second-guessed himself on his next kick, choosing instead to not throw it at all. After following up with a slow-motion right kick to the body, something seemed "off" about him.
A minute into the fight, Griffin through a lead left hook that was immediately countered hard by an uppercut from "Shogun." This was a signal to stop screwing around and get this fight to the ground ASAP. Kenny Florian pointed out that Griffin looked nervous.
Just about 45 seconds later, the fight finally went to the ground, but it was because Rua had clipped Griffin with a right hook to the top of the head and sent him crashing to the canvas. The Brazilian swarmed him and began dropping devastating hammer fists that had his head bouncing off the floor like a basketball before the referee intervened and put a stop to the onslaught.
For Forrest Griffin, countless articles have already been published about his poor performance last night. What was the gameplan? Why didn't he try to go to the ground against Shogun like the first time around or even like his last fight in the first round against Rich Franklin? It also didn't look like he committed to a single strike he threw the entire fight and this allowed Rua to build confidence and score the knockdown. Perhaps his wife going into labor was on his mind and he just wanted to go home. Perhaps this is simply what was supposed to happen the first time around.
Griffin will likely take some time off as he looks to mix up his training with other camps around the United States. He also needs to find that fire that helped fuel his rise to the top and made him UFC champion in 2008. He looked like a shell of himself last night. It's time for some serious self reflection. The most interesting fight right now would likely be a trilogy match against Tito Ortiz. They've each won a fight, both by split decision. There aren't many other interesting match-ups right now. Perhaps fellow UFC 134 loser Luiz Cane could fit the bill.
For Mauricio Rua, fans shouldn't be jumping on the bandwagon just yet. He simply took advantage of a horrible gameplan by Griffin. Yes, he still had serious power in both hands but there are still many questions surrounding him. The UFC should look to jump on this quick victory and put Rua in there against a top light heavyweight very soon, perhaps a match against Dan Henderson on the upcoming UFC on FOX event in November. Other interesting fights could be a trilogy against Lyoto Machida, or a bout against top prospects Phil Davis or Alexander Gustafsson.
So what do you make of this fight, Maniacs?
Was this the way the first Griffin-Rua fight should have ended? Is "Shogun" back? What in the world was wrong with Forrest Griffin last night?