Photo by Esther Lin via MMAFighting.com.
This match is pretty much a going-away present for two former champions who have shown little ability to compete with the top 10 of the light heavyweight division in recent bouts, but still sell tickets when their name is on the marquee.
Indeed, Tito Ortiz is all set to call it a career win, lose or draw tonight (Sat., July 7, 2012) after he completes his trilogy with Forrest Griffin at the UFC 148: "Silva vs. Sonnen 2" event on pay-per-view (PPV) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"The People's Champ" has vowed to go out on a high note, having trained as diligently as ever with as much motivation as he can muster. After all, this could be the last image anyone remembers of the once great champion.
Standing in his way is Griffin, who is looking to rebound from a devastating knockout loss to Mauricio Rua back at UFC 134 in Aug. 2011 in Brazil. Like Ortiz, Forrest has been openly talking about retirement, wondering whether the end is nearer than it is farther.
Perhaps tonight will answer that question.
Ortiz's laundry list of injuries are the result of a long career where he's trained as hard as anyone, with the resultant mileage accrued. At his physical peak, he had one of the better shots in the game and, coupled with his conditioning, he was an extremely tough assignment for anyone he could take down. Today, however, it's simply a ghost of the vintage Ortiz in there. He doesn't have the explosiveness on his shot, and while his stand up has improved considerably, the rest of the competition has, too.
Griffin has dropped off noticeably since losing his title to Rashad Evans. It's hard to tell if he's really into the sport to the degree which defined his early UFC days, and his epic title-winning effort against Quinton Jackson, which was a classic overachiever's statement. He looked pretty flat in taking a decision win over Ortiz in their second match, despite the fact that Ortiz resembled a dead man walking for half of it. A workmanlike decision over Rich Franklin was exactly how that fight was likely to go, and Griffin's subsequent KO loss to Mauricio Rua was another reminder of his overall technical deterioration. Griffin's had a long career but after winning the title, it's pretty clear he is in there for different reasons than the ones that made him a fan favorite after winning The Ultimate Fighter season one.
Expect another underwater-style punch-fest, with Griffin out-hustling a tired Ortiz en route to a decision win. Then a post-fight interview from Ortiz, whose retirement is apparently in the works. It will probably be a touching and emotional moment at the mic for Tito, except for the fact that we've gotten a bunch of these from him in recent setbacks and they're starting to get a tad redundant. This fight really doesn't deserve to be the semi-main on any pay-per-view card - unless it is a kind of retirement-fight barn burner, which it isn't likely to be.
Griffin by unanimous decision
Be sure to join MMAmania.com this evening for LIVE, detailed UFC 148 results of all the "Silva vs. Sonnen 2" pay-per-view (PPV) action. It will include blow-by-blow coverage of the Facebook video stream, FX "Prelims" bouts, and of course, the PPV broadcast. We'll start RIGHT HERE at around 7 p.m. ET and carry straight on through early Sunday morning.
See you later!
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst or firstname.lastname@example.org.