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UFC 106: Ortiz vs. Griffin 2 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on April 5, 2010, 3:12 PM

UFC 106: Ortiz vs. Griffin 2

Las Vegas, Nevada

-After a blockbuster summer that saw UFC 100 and UFC 101 draw huge buyrates, business slowed down later in the year for Zuffa as UFC 102, 103 and 104 all had somewhat less-marketable main events. UFC 106 was supposed to be the one that turned it around again, as the originally planned card had a co-main event of Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin for the Heavyweight Title, and the return of Tito Ortiz against Mark Coleman. Even when Coleman was forced off the card due to injury, Zuffa were able to replace him with an even bigger draw in Forrest Griffin, and things were looking good for the show.

But of course, nothing in MMA is usually that simple and disaster struck. Lesnar was forced off the card with an ďundisclosed illnessĒ (which ended up being diverticulitis) and Ortiz-Griffin was bumped up into the main event slot, with a co-main of Josh Koscheck vs. Anthony Johnson added on late notice. This lost the show its pull for casual fans, even if Koscheck-Johnson was a great fight for hardcores. Then the rest of the card began to fall apart, as Ricardo Almeida (and by proxy, opponent Jon Fitch), Thiago Alves and finally Karo Parisyan (and by proxy, opponent Dustin Hazelett) dropped out, leaving a far weaker event than had originally been put together, even by hardcore fansí standards. Still, with the return of Ortiz and some really good midcard fights, I was still pretty pumped for it. I am, apparently though, an aberration, as the show ended up drawing a disappointing buyrate.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Lightweight Fight: George Sotiropoulos vs Jason Dent

UFC veteran Dent had come off a mildly successful stint on TUF 9, but was greeted with a stylistic nightmare here in the form of the Aussie grappler Sotiropoulos, who had looked very impressive in tapping George Roop in August. Outsized and outmatched in seemingly all areas, I could see no other result for Dent than a submission loss.

We get underway and both men throw out some strikes, nothing of note really landing early on. Good combo inside a clinch from Dent and Sotiropoulos has to back out. Another nice combo lands for Dent but doesnít seem to have much effect on the Aussie. Good uppercut stepping in for George, first good shot of the fight for him. Exchange continues and Dent is outlanding George, but he seems unable to actually hurt him. Easy takedown from George and he immediately works to pass, quickly working into half-guard. Dent does a good job defensively and manages to wriggle into full guard, but George quickly works free and takes side mount. Dent tries to turn away, but the Aussie controls him and steps over into full mount, landing some hammer fists before Dent slips into half-guard. Another pass puts Sotiropoulous in full mount this time and then he takes the back. Dent is flattened out and he takes some big hammer fists and punches. Thirty seconds to go though so he might survive the round. More punches from George, but the time runs out before he can finish. 10-9 for George, very easy round to score.

Round Two begins and they exchange a few strikes with George landing a glancing superman punch. Again Dent lands some decent counters that donít really hurt George. Body kick from Dent but George catches the leg and sweeps the other from under him, then passes into half-guard. Reversal attempt from Dent but George grabs a front facelock and then spins to the back, taking it with one hook in. George turns into full mount, but slips off and Dent locks down on half-guard. George slips into side mount again though and then moves to north/south. It looks like heís going for an arm, but instead he punches the body and then spins back to side mount. Dent turns over but ends up in a front facelock again, and then Sotiropoulos lets him go and gets a bodylock takedown into side mount instead. Full mount again for the Aussie and this time heís got a minute and half to finish. Punches land as he postures up, and from there he goes for an armbar. Dent grabs hold of the arm with his free hand to defend, so George teases a bicep crush before prying the arm loose and extending it for the tapout.

Beautiful submission finish there; it was especially great how he teased the arm crush in order to force Dent to release his grip to finish the armbar. One-sided fight for the most part but really Dent was overmatched, not so much in terms of skills, but in the fact that heís just tiny for 155lbs and really ought to be fighting at a lower weight. I think heíd make 135lbs with ease to be honest. Though to be fair, on the local circuit he probably doesnít need to cut that far to win fights so unless heís in the UFC (he was released after this one) it isnít a big deal I guess. Good performance from the Aussie, however, and it was clear from this that he needed a step up in competition, which he would get in his next fight.

Lightweight Fight: Caol Uno vs Fabricio Camoes

Unoís return to the UFC after six years back in Japan had turned into a damp squib when his fight with Spencer Fisher ended up being a stall-fest, so he was relegated to the prelim card here to face Brazilian newcomer Camoes, who had wins over the likes of Sam Morgan and Jean Silva on his record. More interestingly, though itís not on his professional record, Camoes apparently went 27 minutes with Anderson Silva in a bare-knuckle fight when he was 17, which is insane. Even so, I figured the experienced veteran Uno would probably have too much for him in this one. Both men look in tremendous shape here, particularly Uno who looks to have put on a bit of muscle.

Round One begins and they circle before Camoes throws a head kick that catches Uno slightly, more with the foot than the shin though, knocking him a little off balance. Uno remains calm though and then throws a kick that Camoes catches and uses to take him down. Uno quickly looks to reverse, but Camoes grabs a front facelock. Uno escapes and theyíre back on their feet. Combo from Camoes, answered by Uno before the Brazilian gets a double leg and passes to half-guard. Uno kicks him off and Camoes stands over him and then tries a jumping punch, but misses and Uno gets to his feet. Big combo from Camoes and then he takes Unoís back on a scramble and pulls him down, getting both hooks in. It looks like Camoes has the rear naked choke sunk, but itís more on the jaw as opposed to under and Uno manages to defend it. Tremendous job from Uno to defend the choke and he manages to slip free and stand back up. Pair of good leg kicks from Uno as he pushes forward. Camoes tries for a knee but slips to his back, and Uno gets on top in half-guard with Camoes seated against the cage. Uno looks to work to full mount, but Camoes gets back to guard with his feet on the hips. Couple of solid punches land for Uno from the top and then he passes to half-guard. Camoes works back to full guard and thatís the round. Close round to call, Iíd probably lean towards Camoes for the choke attempt and the kick, 10-9.

Round Two and Uno pushes the pace with some leg kicks, but Camoes fires back, swinging wildly with some left hooks that force Uno on the retreat. Big right hook from Camoes and he grabs a waistlock and suplexes Uno down and gets the back! Uno manages to shake off the second hook though and spins him over into guard, landing in top position. Uno lands a couple of odd knee strikes to the tailbone, and then postures up, but Camoes lands a pair of illegal upkicks and referee Mario Yamasaki calls time. No mercy from Mario as he takes a point right away. Surprising as Uno didnít look hurt by them. They restart in Unoís guard and Camoes looks to roll into an armbar, but itís not deep enough and Uno stays calm and pulls right out. Good elbow from inside the guard from Uno. Looks like Camoes is going for a kneebar now, but he has no body control over the leg and Uno remains in control. Camoes reverses back up to his feet and Uno pushes forward, but he walks into a heavy combination from the Brazilian that sends Uno backwards. Camoes gets a waistlock and tries to slam him, but Uno isolates the arm and looks for the Sakuraba-style kimura. Camoes avoids that, but ends up on the bottom again. Good right hand from the top for Uno. He passes to half-guard and continues to land with some short elbows, but the round ends with Camoes reversing to his feet and throwing some more heavy leather. Probably a 10-10 round, but Uno takes it 10-9 due to the point deduction. This is a very good fight actually.

Round Three and Uno pushes forward throwing some low kicks, but Camoes throws some more power hooks, looking to finish Uno with one shot. Single leg from Uno is stuffed, and Camoes swings into a clinch. They break off and Uno slips to his back on a low kick, but eats a left hook as he sits up. Camoes lets him up and Uno comes forward with a pair of body kicks, then lands a nice leg kick as Camoes grabs a plum clinch. Uno looks for a single leg and gets it, dropping Camoes into guard. Uno works into half-guard momentarily, but Camoes works butterfly hooks back in. Couple of good punches land for Uno and Camoes rolls for something, looks like a footlock variant, but it doesnít really affect Uno despite a horrible visual on the angle, and the Japanese veteran passes into north/south. Camoes sits up and gives his back, but heís going for a kimura and almost leaves himself open for an armbar. Uno doesnít get it and ends up rolling into half-guard for some ground-and-pound instead, and then he drags Camoes down on the bell as the Brazilian stands. 10-9 for Uno so Iíd probably have this 29-28 for the Japanese star.

Judges have it 29-27, 28-28 and 28-28 for a majority draw, which the crowd do not like. I can see that though for sure. Very close fight and Camoes acquitted himself well in his UFC debut against an experienced veteran, and what we got was a fun fight between two well-matched fighters with the odd slow point. Unoís UFC return could probably still be seen as a disappointment for the Japan marks who expected him to do really well, but this was good stuff overall.

Welterweight Fight: Brock Larson vs Brian Foster

Larson had initially been expected to develop into a contender in the UFC, as heíd looked great in his WEC run and immediately won two on the bounce in his return to the Octagon. But heíd been somewhat derailed in his fight at UFN 19 with unknown wrestler Mike Pierce, who won a decision using largely lay-and-pray tactics. Faced with Matt Hughes protťgť Brian Foster, whoíd looked powerful if not all that skilled in his own UFC debut, I figured Larson would bounce back and use his physical game to grind out a win.

We begin and they circle before exchanging punches into a clinch. Both men look to muscle the other into the fence, but Foster breaks with a right hand. Foster closes the distance and lands a knee, but Larson drops for a single leg. Foster defends and lands some punches, but Larson manages to elevate him and get him down against the fence. Larson works to pass the guard, getting to half-guard, and he transitions to the back. Foster stands, but takes some punches from behind from Larson before reversing and getting a takedown to full mount. Larson scrambles so Foster decides to stand up, and then wings some BIG PUNCHES over the top of the guard to the head and midsection. Massive right hand drops Foster into side mount, and then he steps to full mount and lands some heavy blows. Larson kicks him away and Foster stands to deliver some more ground-and-pound, but he slips and Larson kicks out and lands one to the head as Foster is on all fours. Ref steps in and calls time, and like Camoes earlier itís a point deducted from Larson for the illegal blow. They restart after the doctor checks Fosterís eye, and Larson charges in but almost gets thrown on his head. Larson blocks it and grabs a front facelock, but as he drags Foster down he lands an illegal knee to the head as Fosterís hand was on the ground. Yves Lavigne deducts ANOTHER point, which is the first time I can recall a guy losing two in one round since like, Almeida-Lindland in 2001 off the top of my head. Fight restarts and the buzzer sounds right away to end the round. Well, it was 10-9 for Foster, so with the two point deductions itís 10-7 meaning Larson pretty much needs to stop him to win now.

Into the 2nd and Foster looks confident, pushing forward with some strikes. Nice right hand from Foster as Larson pushes forward with a combo. Action slows down a little before Foster tries a turning side kick into a spinning backfist! They miss, but a follow-up right hand lands and rocks Larsonís world. Spinning backfist misses and Larson clinches, but Foster grabs double underhooks and RAGDOLLS Larson to the ground! BIG HAMMER FISTS follow and Larson looks to be in deep trouble. Brock manages to get to full guard to slow down Fosterís onslaught, but the Hughes protťgť chooses to stand. Larson shoots in, but dives right into a heavy uppercut and Foster follows with more shots that have Larson tapping out. Wow.

Tremendous showing from Brian Foster as he basically ran right through Larson, who had never been absolutely destroyed like this before. I mean sure, Carlos Condit subbed him and Jon Fitch and Pierce outwrestled him, but Foster threw him around in the second round like he was a child. Hughesí protťgť clearly has a lot of talent and itíll be interesting to see if he makes some noise in the future.

Middleweight Fight: Kendall Grove vs Jake Rosholt

This was an interesting fight on paper as awesome wrestler Rosholt had looked much improved in his fight with Chris Leben in August, while Grove is nearly always exciting and due to his dodgy chin but overall good skills, you never really know which way a fight involving him is going to go. Here I was picking Rosholt to ground Kendall using his wrestling, en route to a likely win by ground-and-pound TKO.

Round One and Grove throws out some jabs, looking to keep his distance. Jake closes in and looks for a takedown, and immediately he elevates Grove and gets a slam. Kendall grabs an arm and looks to scramble, but gives his back in the process and Rosholt tries for an over/under. Kendall stands, and Rosholt suplexes him back down and lands with some punches. Kendall works up again, but Jake drags him back down for some more punches. Knee to the hamstring from Rosholt but Kendall works to his feet once more, and manages to turn into him, pressing him into the fence. Knee to the gut from Grove and he surprisingly gets a takedown to guard on Rosholt. Closed guard from Rosholt and he ties Kendall up, before using the fence to escape to his feet. Big left hook and a flying knee stun Grove and put him on the retreat, and Rosholt looks to follow up with a takedown. Kendall does a good job of defending but Rosholt keeps pushing and gets him down, landing in half-guard by the fence. Rosholt looks for the full mount and gets it, but Kendall tries to push off the fence to escape and then gives his back before escaping to half-guard. Jake looks to set up for an arm triangle choke, but he leaves his right arm free and Grove throws his legs up for an oma plata before switching off to a triangle! Rosholt looks caught and sure enough heís forced to tap out there!

Awesome submission from Kendall Grove; one of the sweetest triangles Iíve seen in a long, long time. The way he set it up using the oma plata was brilliant, particularly when you consider than Rosholt was setting up for his own submission just seconds beforehand. This was easily one of Groveís most impressive Octagon performances thus far. As for Rosholt, he fought well and basically just got caught cold, which is sort-of to be expected given his lack of experience. Still canít believe Zuffa released him after this fight, but I definitely think heíll be back in the future as heís got too much of an upside to fail completely. Super-exciting fight for the time it lasted.

Welterweight Fight: Ben Saunders vs Marcus Davis

One of my favourite fighters, Saunders had looked disappointing in his first step up in competition against Mike Swick at UFC 99, but word of a bad rib injury soon came out after that fight which may explain his less explosive performance. Davis meanwhile had lost a close decision to his hated rival Dan Hardy on the same show, and the fact that he barely mentioned Ben in the lead-up to this fight and kept on about Hardy lead me to believe that he was overlooking the ATT fighter. With that in mind and the fact that Saundersí lanky Muay Thai style seemed a nasty match for Davis on paper, I picked Ben to turn Davisí lights out with a barrage of knees. Side note Ė this was Davisís first fight on US soil since April 2007, after seven in a row on the European UFC shows.

We get underway and circle early before Ben misses a head kick. Davis lunges in and Saunders grabs the plum clinch, but he canít land anything and Davis muscles him into the cage. Marcus breaks off and looks to land some punches coming in, but Ben grabs the plum clinch again and lands some knees to the head and body. They muscle for position with Davis pushing him into the fence, but it looks like Marcus is cut on the right side of his face. He tries for a standing guillotine but Ben easily slips free. Nice knee inside from Saunders that lands flush, and he follows with some more to the body. Davis looks like heís really struggling inside the clinch now and he eats some more knees to the head before breaking off. Head kick misses again for Ben and Davis fires back with a leg kick. Pair of jabs from Ben and then he trips Davis down for a moment before the Irish Hand Grenade pops back up. Into the clinch again and Saunders works for the plum once more and lands some more knees to the body. Davis looks to muscle him down and then breaks off. Good jab from Saunders as Davis comes forward. Davis steps in again, but Saunders grabs the plum again and this time he lands a big knee that rocks Davis bad. Another one lands HEAVILY and turns Marcusís lights out, and thatís all she wrote!

Nice. Saunders looked AWESOME here, abusing Davis in the plum clinch like Anderson Silva to Rich Franklin, and given that Davis has been in with some very tough guys and always went the distance, itís very impressive for Ben to be able to shut him down in one round like that. He still has some holes in his game (as his recent loss to Jon Fitch showed), but thereís no denying that Saunders has a lot of talent and when he can get that plum clinch heís one of the most dangerous guys out there at 170lbs. Easily the best performance of his career and one of the best knockouts of 2009 too.

Welterweight Fight: Amir Sadollah vs Phil Baroni

Originally set for the prelim card, this was bumped to the PPV portion when Parisyan-Hazelett was scrapped, and I for one was not complaining about seeing the NEW YORK BAD ASS!~! back in UFC action. Sure, Phil hadnít looked great in his last fight with Joe Riggs, but who cares? Itís the NYBA, dude. As Sadollah had been knocked out in his previous fight by Johny Hendricks Ė a guy not really known for his striking Ė that was all I needed to pick Baroni by VICIOUS KNOCKOUT. Like I always do.

First round gets started and Baroni comes out SWINGING, going to the body as Sadollah grabs a clinch to look for some knees. Right hand knocks Amir off balance to the ground but he pops up and lands some knees to the body and head. BIG PUNCHES land for Baroni on Amir inside, but he eats them all up and fires right back with knees. Sadollah forces him into the cage, but Baroni breaks off and hits another combo. Nice leg kick from Sadollah and then he grabs the clinch to deliver more knees. They muscle into the cage and exchange some knees and uppercuts, and Baroni gets the better of it, landing some thudding body shots and uppercuts. Beautiful chopping leg kick from the clinch for Amir. Baroni drops and gets the takedown, but Amir looks calm and uses the fence to set up for an armbar. Baroni avoids and lands a few shots, then chooses to let Amir back up. Combo from Baroni but Sadollah answers with a leg kick and a front kick to the face. They clinch again and now Amir begins to take over with his knees. Baroni grabs a guillotine standing, then releases and whacks the body, but Amir breaks with a knee and lands a straight right hand. Amir looks for the takedown, but Baroni avoids and theyíre clinched again. BIG KNEES crack Baroni from the clinch and bloody him up, causing him to drop for the takedown again. Sadollah works to stuff it and then lands some heavy knees to end the round. Great, exciting first round, but Iíd score it for Amir Sadollah based on the damage he did at the end compared to the damage Phil did at the start.

Second round and Amir opens with a leg kick and a follow-up head kick. Baroni looks gassed and he eats a big knee, and then a sick leg kick into the clinch. Amir breaks off and now it looks like heís ready to pick Baroni apart. Phil fires back with a right hand to break the clinch, but Amir lands a front kick, and follows with a superman punch. Baroni clinches and forces him into the fence again, but Sadollah works him over with knees to the body. They break and a pair of front kicks to the body and a leg kick land for Sadollah. Baroni swings into the clinch again and they exchange some short punches inside, but Amir cracks him with a pair of elbows and lands some more knees to the body. Baroni breaks with a combo, but takes another leg kick and Amir follows up with some more knees. Left breaks for Amir and he continues to work with the kicks to the legs and body. Amirís Muay Thai is looking awesome here. Baroni tries to fire back, but he looks exhausted and hurt at this stage and Sadollah continues to land. They clinch again and muscle for position, with Sadollah landing another elbow. They break off and Sadollah lands a body kick and slips down before popping back up. Wild swings for Baroni almost land, but Amir covers up and hits him with another leg kick. High kick narrowly misses and Baroni looks done to me. They clinch again and Sadollah ends the round with some more knees. That was close to a 10-8 round for Sadollah as Baroni was little more than a walking target.

Third round and Amir walks him down and lands a couple more leg kicks. Baroni is pretty static as Sadollah lands a few more kicks and avoids Philís swings. Nice combo from Sadollah and he follows with some knees that stagger Baroni, who continues to swing wildly in answer. This guy is all heart. Sadollah hits him with another hard leg kick though and follows with knees from the clinch. Baroniís left leg is looking JACKED. Head kick misses for Amir but he follows up with some heavy elbow strikes, and you can really tell this guyís been training in Holland. Baroniís all cut up now. Incredible heart and chin from the NYBA. Sadollah continues to pick him apart with knees and leg kicks, and now heís opening up with combinations of punches and knees too. Baroni looks buckled for a second but he manages to hang in there somehow and tries to swing back again. This is the worst beating Iíve ever seen Phil take. Amir continues to land with strike after strike, including a flying knee, but the clockís running down now and it looks like Philís going to survive the round. Pair of vicious body kicks almost put Baroni down, but he holds on and takes more knees and elbows on the buzzer. Brutal round and Iíd give Sadollah a 10-8, making the fight 30-26 overall.

Judges have a unanimous decision for Amir Sadollah, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28. Not only was this an impressive performance because of how great his Muay Thai looked, but Amir also took some severe shots from a very heavy hitter in Baroni in the first round and was able to weather the storm. I donít know, maybe Johny Hendricks just hits like a truck? Regardless, Sadollahís striking looked unbelievable here (although to be fair, the third round was like hitting a walking target) and if he can continue to fight this way then he could be a handful for anyone at 170lbs. As for Baroni, his comeback didnít go as well as heíd hoped, but he did show a huge amount of heart to survive such an onslaught and for that alone you have to respect the guy. Fight was pretty crazy and really exciting.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs Luiz Cane

This was one of, if not the most intriguing fight of the night, as Lilí Nog finally made his way to the UFC following the Affliction collapse, and was immediately faced with a top ten opponent in Luiz Cane. While Cane was ranked higher thanks to wins over the likes of Jason Lambert and Sokoudjou, I felt Lilí Nog had become underrated thanks to the fact that he hadnít fought many high-profile fights since his PRIDE days ended, although his last fight had been an impressive win over Vladimir Matyushenko. Cane meanwhile had struggled somewhat with Steve Cantwell in his last fight in a fight I expected him to win with ease. With that in mind I was taking Nogueira to surprise Cane with his striking, leading to a takedown and a submission win probably in the second round.

We begin and Cane stalks forward, landing a couple of leg kicks. Right jab lands for Nog and he follows with a leg kick of his own. Cane continues to walk him down, but eats a nice left hand from Nogueira. Nogueira continues to work the right jab and then comes over with a left straight that stuns Cane, snapping his head back. Cane looks staggered and eats another left, then a knee to the body puts him on the run. Nogueira presses the action now, and sets up the left with the jab again, landing it twice flush to stun Banha once more. Cane tries to clinch, but Nogueira breaks and LEVELS him with a left hand to put him away!

WOW. Unbelievable debut for Nogueira as Cane was undefeated coming in and was pretty highly regarded, and yet Rogerio just blew him away. I mean, I suspected he might be the better striker from a technical standpoint but I never expected a first round knockout. To me it looked like Cane just couldnít handle fighting another southpaw and that left him wide open to the straight left over and over, and once Nogueira had him hurt he just didnít let up. Definitely canít wait to see Lilí Nog back in there as with his blend of skills heís one of the most dangerous 205lbers out there and could well be the biggest challenge to Lyoto Machidaís crown. And man, if Shogun wins the title in that rematch...can you say Shogun-Lilí Nog 2?

Welterweight Fight: Paulo Thiago vs Jacob Volkmann

Originally set for an insanely hard fight with Thiago Alves (and with Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch being his two prior opponents, that probably wouldíve been the most difficult beginning to a UFC career ever!), Brazilian Thiago ended up matched instead with relative unknown Jacob Volkmann, who had a reputation as a solid wrestler-grappler and a record of 9-0 Ė as well as a seriously odd nickname in ĎChristmasí. With Volkmann being unknown and Thiago having the win over Koscheck as well as giving Fitch problems in their fight, I was picking the Brazilian to take this one by submission.

First round begins and itís clear that Thiago has really amped up his strength and conditioning programme as heís got a totally new body since his debut against Koscheck. Circle early and Thiago throws out some feeler strikes and misses with a head kick. Clinch from Thiago and they lean into the cage, before Thiago hits a beautiful takedown into side mount. Great use of double underhooks there. Good job from Volkmann to get to half-guard, and he uses the fence to wall-walk up, but Thiago quickly drags him back down. Volkmann works up to his feet again and weíre back into the clinch. Good body shot from Volkmann but Thiago trips him down and passes immediately to full mount. Volkmann gets a hip escape to half-guard but takes a couple of short strikes that open up a small cut. Full guard now for Volkmann and he gets his legs high, so Thiago stands and brings the fight back up. Nice leg kick from Thiago and he stuffs a takedown attempt. They muscle for position along the cage, with Volkmann landing some knees to the legs. Nice elbow to break for Volkmann. With just seconds to go in the round though Thiago closes in and DECKS him with a left hook-right cross combo! Buzzer sounds before he can follow up, but that probably wouldíve been it for Volkmann methinks. Thiago packs some serious power even if his technique isnít amazing. 10-9 for Paulo Thiago.

Second round and both men push forward before Volkmann throws a low kick, Thiago catches it and sweeps the other leg from under him and lands a right hand on the way down. Nice! Superman punch from Thiago into a bodylock but this time Volkmann reverses and gets a leg cradle takedown to side mount. Thiago quickly looks to reverse, turning into him to look for a single, but Volkmann maintains his base and looks to stack the Brazilian against the fence. Volkmann looks to take the back now with a neck crank, but a scramble allows Thiago to explode to his feet in a clinch. Crowd arenít especially into this because neither guy is a big star, but itís actually a really good fight. They exchange some punches inside the clinch with Thiago landing the better hits, but the crowd actually boo now even though theyíre working hard. Flying knee attempt from Thiago but Volkmann lands a left hook and then drags Paulo to the ground. He looks to take the back as Thiago turtles up, and then takes full mount for a second, but as he opens up Paulo reverses and gets top position, dropping a BIG RIGHT over the top into the guard. Some nice punches land for Thiago from the guard and then he stands and swings a MASSIVE SHOT over the top that lands flush, putting him in side mount. Looked like Joe Riggs on Chris Lytle even. Thiago is stealing the round here. Round ends with Thiago in dominant position. Wouldíve probably been Volkmannís round but the vicious ground-and-pound at the end gives it to Thiago, 10-9.

Between rounds Volkmannís corner tell him that Thiago is gassed, which is usually carny for ďyouíre most likely fucked, weíre out of ideas so try anythingĒ. In my experience from watching MMA, anyway.

Third and final round and Thiago lands a right hook to begin. Volkmann comes in with a flurry, but leaves his chin up and Thiago counters heavily and drops him again, this time with a straight right. Thiago drops some body shots over the top of the legs as Volkmann looks to recover, and then settles into the guard and almost puts himself into a triangle choke. Thiago easily passes it though into side mount. Looks like heís going for Jeff Monsonís north/south choke, but Volkmann reverses out and looks to stand. Volkmann gets to his feet with Thiago gripping his legs, and then both men wind up clinched before breaking off. Telegraphed shot from Volkmann is easily stuffed and Thiago stands over him again and looks to pass the guard. He drops into side mount but Volkmann reverses and gets top position himself with side mount. Thiago rolls into turtle and gives his back, taking some punches, but Volkmann looks tired now and his shots donít look to have much power. He ends up in side mount again and goes for the Hughes crucifix, punching at the head and now Thiago looks in trouble! Volkmann canít quite maintain the position though and he allows Thiago to roll onto all fours. Reversal from the Brazilian puts him back on his feet with Volkmann on his back, and again he drops the punch over the guard into side mount. Volkmann tries to spin free and then gets a DíArce from the bottom, and it looks sunk in! Thiago turns and winds up on all fours, but Volkmann loses the choke and gets put on his back, where Thiago takes full mount and lands some hard punches. Fight ends with Thiago on top in side mount.

Great fight. Judges have it 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27 for Paulo Thiago. Definitely the right decision but Volkmann put up a hell of a fight for an unknown guy and certainly showed why the UFC signed him up. Thiago though once again showed a ton of power standing and a very good technical ground game, and to be fair he was very unlucky not to finish Volkmann with that combination in the first round. For a guy who most (myself included) figured would be a tomato can for Josh Koscheck to squash, Thiagoís turned into quite the prospect at 170lbs and honestly a title shot probably isnít that far off since heís beaten Mike Swick now too. Crowd didnít treat it as such because they didnít seem to care for either guy, but this was a tremendous back-and-forth fight and is probably the most overlooked fight of 2009 when fans talk about the best ones of the year, I think.

Welterweight Fight: Josh Koscheck vs Anthony Johnson

As I mentioned previously, this fight was thrown together as a co-main after the loss of Lesnar-Carwin, but mainly appealed to the hardcore fans as opposed to casuals. Both men had fought and won by KO just prior to this Ė Koscheck over Frank Trigg at UFC 103, Johnson over Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 104 Ė but Johnson had come in with serious weight issues, only reaching 176lbs. He blamed that on a knee injury though and thankfully made it in at 170lbs here. In terms of a pick, the experience advantage was firmly with Koscheck and I was giving him a big advantage in the grappling department too, but in his last few fights, heíd seemed content to stand and bang with anyone, even Thiago Alves, and with that in mind I was taking Johnson to turn Kosís lights out early on as heís a guy you just donít want to stand with.

We get underway and both men look to gauge the distance and fire some strikes from range, with Koscheck connecting with a left hook early on. High kick is blocked by Koscheck and he throws the overhand right in answer but Johnson gets out of the way. A second attempt lands hard but doesnít seem to stun Rumble, who fires back with a long jab. One-two lands for Rumble and he starts pushing forward a little more. Big right hand lands for Johnson as Kos steps in and it wobbles him, putting him on the retreat. Johnson closes in and looks to flurry, but Koscheck gets a bodylock and goes for the takedown. Great job from Rumble of slipping free though and he sprawls out and grabs a front facelock. Koscheck tries to free himself and then goes for the leg again, but this time Johnson stands, and lands a big knee to the head with Koscheck still on his knees. Oops. Referee Mario Yamasaki instantly calls time for the illegal blow and Koscheck looks badly hurt.

First replays show the knee connecting with the eye socket, but on a further replay we get a weird situation as another angle seems to show the knee grazing the right side of Koscheckís head while heís clutching at his left eye in pain. Odd as hell. Doctors check him over and heís okay to go, thankfully, because we probably never wouldíve heard the last of that controversy. Yamasaki takes a point from Johnson, as regardless, it was an illegal blow.

Finally they restart with two minutes remaining. Johnson walks him down, but Koscheck blocks a left high kick. Right hand lands for Kos and opens a cut over Johnsonís left eye. Single leg attempt from Koscheck but Johnson sprawls nicely to block it. Kos keeps driving forward and gets him up against the fence though, finally managing to drag Rumble to the ground where he takes the back as Johnson turtles up. He doesnít have any hooks in though, using a waistlock for control. Finally he tries to get the hooks in but Johnson reverses with seconds remaining and almost gets his own takedown. Close round but itís Koscheckís, particularly with the deducted point.

Into the 2nd and Johnson looks to use some leg kicks and the long jab to keep his distance. An errant finger catches Rumble in the eye though, and the ref has to call time to give him a break. They restart and Rumble pushes forward, but Koscheck catches him with a left high kick. BIG right hand narrowly misses for Kos and then they trade off and this time Johnson goes down off another eye poke. Christ. Replay confirms it as it looked pretty deep. This is becoming a bit of a dirty fight. They restart and then both men really start swinging for the fences, landing some heavy shots before Koscheck shoots and gets the takedown! He passes the guard quickly and wriggles into half-guard, looking to mount from there. BRUTAL short elbows land to the face of Rumble and Koscheck slowly looks to move to mount. Johnson is looking pretty tired here. Koscheck continues to beat on him with ground-and-pound, and then sets up for an arm triangle before transitioning to take the back. Johnson is gasping for air and heís in deep trouble. More punches land before Koscheck SINKS THE CHOKE AND JOHNSON TAPS OUT!

MASSIVE pop for the finish, totally different to your regular Koscheck reaction as heís normally a huge villain. Post-fight Koscheck makes a bit of a fool of himself by claiming *heís* the number-one-contender, not Dan Hardy, and itíll be him fighting GSP in March (despite UFC having confirmed GSP-Hardy was on at this stage) and Dana should put together him vs. Hardy for February. Evidently nobody taught Koscheck about how to draw money, as Koscheck-Hardy draws nothing, whereas GSP-Hardy draws huge and Koscheck vs. the GSP-Hardy winner probably draws even more. Ah well.

Fight was fun if a little strange due to all the fouls and weird moments, as both men came to swing but in the end Koscheck was the smarter fighter as he finally went back to his bread and butter Ė his wrestling and ground game Ė and used it to put away a very dangerous opponent. Johnson seemed to run out of steam badly in the second round and thatís likely due to the massive weight cut he makes, which makes you wonder how much longer he can stay at 170lbs for, but heís still a hard match for most Welterweights out there. As for Koscheck, this was a big win for him although how he got the submission of the night bonus for that choke, when you had Kendall Groveís beautiful triangle on the undercard is beyond me!

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Tito Ortiz vs Forrest Griffin

After more than a year on the shelf as a free agent, Tito had finally buried the hatched with UFC president Dana White in the summer (which to be honest, Iíd expected all along as they always came off as two friends who had had a falling out and would probably make up when they forgot their pride for a second) and re-signed with the UFC in late July. Originally set to face Mark Coleman, he ended up being matched with Forrest Griffin in a re-run of their great 2006 encounter, which saw Ortiz win a very close split decision. Since then, devastating loss to Anderson Silva aside Ė Griffin had improved immeasurably, while Ortiz had suffered nothing but injuries and setbacks. Coming into this one though, he claimed to be healthy for the first time since his fight with Randy Couture in 2003. Being a longtime believer in Tito as one of the greatest fighters out there if heís healthy, I ended up picking Ortiz to take out Griffin via ground-and-pound, as Forrestís defense against that attack had still looked suspect against Rashad Evans, and there arenít very many fighters who can do ground-and-pound like the Huntington Beach Bad Boy.

Big pop for both men upon entrance even though as usual the DVD kills it badly by overdubbing the entrance music. Titoís evidently been to the Rich Franklin school of training, as heís sporting a monstrous black eye. And itís proper old-school Tito too, with the black shorts with the flames on the trim.

First round begins and they circle with Forrest landing a right hand and a nice leg kick. Couple of combos miss for both men before Griffin hits him with another leg kick. Takedown attempt from Tito and he gets Griffin down! Right away Ortiz goes to work with the elbows, as Forrest probably flashes back to Anaheim, April 2006. Griffin looks for a kimura on the right arm and uses it to reverse back to his feet, but Tito quickly brings him back down. Forrest uses the cage to work back to his feet, and they wind up clinched against the fence. Crowd are loud as hell but you canít tell who theyíre cheering for. Good knees inside for Griffin. They break off and Griffin hits another hard leg kick. Good combination from Forrest snaps Titoís head back but he seems fine. Takedown attempt from Tito but Forrest evades it. Crowd begin to chant for Forrest now as they exchange some jabs. Inside leg kick from Griffin. Combo from Forrest as Tito steps inside but he slips to the ground and then pops back up. They clinch to end the round and Griffin muscles him into the cage. Close round but Iíd lean towards Forrest as he landed better standing while Tito didnít do all that much with the takedown.

2nd round, and Tito misses an overhand right and eats a short right hook. Decent right lands for Ortiz and he follows with a double leg to counter a low kick, and gets Forrest on his back in guard. Series of short elbows follow, but Forrest holds on from the bottom and tries to stretch Titoís legs out to ruin his posture. Good escape from Griffin allows him to his feet and he lands a low kick. Ineffective combos from both men, but Griffin lands a nice front kick to the fact that knocks Titoís mouthpiece out. Ref calls time to replace it and they quickly restart. Good inside leg kick from Forrest and a combination follows. Left hand from Tito, answered by a body kick from Griffin, but a good double leg puts Griffin on his back. Forrest tries to use a butterfly guard to sweep, but Tito manages to keep top position. Crowd chant for Forrest as he switches to full guard, and Ortiz lands some elbows that open what looks like two cuts over Griffinís eyes. A ton of blood starts leaking out of the right eye, but Forrest hits a reversal and gets top position, moving into half-guard! Crowd are going wild now. Couple of elbows land for Forrest but the time runs out. Iíd give that round to Tito, particularly as he did a lot of damage with the elbows he landed from the top, cutting Forrest badly.

Round Three and Griffin begins strongly with a combination that backs Tito up. Couple of nice low kicks from Forrest and he follows with another combo. Tito looks very slowed down here and Griffin is unloading on him. More combos from Griffin, landing a nice one with a right hook-left high kick combo. Tito is being picked apart now and Forrest is landing at will. Shot from Tito but Forrest stuffs it and almost gets his own takedown before muscling off. Another combo lands for Griffin and this is actually looking like a less-nasty version of Sadollah-Baroni from earlier in the card. Griffin is landing at will. Right high kick takes Tito off balance and he stumbles a little. More shots land for Forrest, including a right that snaps Titoís head back. Tito is doing nothing here. He tries a takedown but Griffin stuffs it easily this time. Seconds remaining and this is all Forrest Griffin. Tito tries to answer back but the buzzer sounds to end the fight. I have that round 10-8 for Forrest Griffin as Tito did so little, so itís 29-27 Griffin overall on my scorecard.

Judges have it a split decision, 29-28 Ortiz, 30-27 Griffin and 29-28 Griffin to give Forrest the win. Man, I donít know how anyone could score that fight for Tito, but I guess the split decision is poetic given that Tito took the split decision back in 2006. The most I could see for Tito would be a draw as even if you gave him the first two rounds (and itíd be hard to argue for him taking the first) he did so little in the third that Forrest clearly deserved the fight in the end.

Post-fight Forrest admits Anderson Silva broke him, but Tito was a good fight to come back with as he could tell he was a guy coming off surgery who was originally preparing for Mark Coleman, no offense. Ha! Tito then claims heís STILL banged up, admitting Forrest was the better man but claiming he had bulging discs that stopped him from training properly, and also a cracked skull (?). Crowd boo that and Tito gets pissed off, asking the fans if theyíd like to step in and fight, to which Forrest steps in to support Tito (!) and tells the fans that theyíre training for a cage fight, and the fans need to appreciate that they do get hurt. Well, that was an odd ending.

Iím torn on this fight really as while it wasnít bad or anything, it didnít feel like a big-time main event for some reason, I guess because ĎTito Returns!í is a bit overdone at this stage (as much as I love the guy) and the fight lacked the drama of the first one with Forrest coming back from a beating and everything. Still, certainly wasnít Couture-Vera or anything and if you didnít know who either man was and had no high expectations then itíd be perfectly acceptable MMA, so who am I to complain? As for the return of Ortiz, well, the jury is still out as a top five guy like Forrest was always going to be a hard match for someone coming off surgery who hadnít fought in eighteen months. The performance could be down to ring rust, or it could be that Titoís shot as a top-level fighter, but we wonít truly find out until he gets in the cage again I guess.

-Highlight reel rolls there and we end the show.

Final Thoughts....

For some reason I remembered this as a not-so-good card, but I donít know what I was thinking as this was, point blank, one of the best shows of 2009. The lack of a truly great fight keeps it from classic status Ė Thiago-Volkmann was the best of the night but it was just a very good fight, not a FOTYC or anything Ė but the fact that a perfectly solid bout like Uno-Camoes gets the ĎWorst Fightí honor should tell you that itís a quality show overall. Great showings from Foster, Saunders, Sadollah and Nogueira are the highlights as well as the afore-mentioned Thiago fight and a solid if strange Johnson-Koscheck match. Main event isnít outstanding but itís decent enough and so UFC 106 is worth a definite thumbs up.

Best Fight: Thiago-Volkmann
Worst Fight: Uno-Camoes

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 107-111, Fight Night 20 & 21, Versus 1, TUF X Finale
WEC: 47
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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