Stephen Quinn, UFC - On Saturday night, Tito Ortiz makes his long-awaited return against Forrest Griffin in a rematch of their 2006 war. How will this fight and the rest of the UFC 106 main card play out, read on to find out.
PHIL BARONI VS. AMIR SADOLLAH
After going 3-1 in his first four fights inside the Octagon, with his only loss coming to Matt Lindland, Baroni was a rising star that looked destined to one day hold UFC gold. Unfortunately for him, plans of holding the UFC title didn’t go as planned. After the impressive start to his UFC career, Baroni went on to lose his next four fights and was eventually let go by the UFC. Since being released in 2005 by the UFC, Baroni has put together an 8-6 record. After fighting in multiple fight promotions in the last four years, Baroni will finally get his wish on Saturday night of once again returning to the Octagon.
Winner of season seven of The Ultimate Fighter, Amir Sadollah is looking to rebound from a controversial loss at UFC 101 against Johny Hendricks. In that fight, the referee stopped the fight and ruled it a TKO, but Sadollah immediately got up to argue that he was fine and the fight should be continued. Regardless of the circumstances, Sadollah lost the fight and now is facing the pressure of losing two straight fights. Sadollah knows that by beating a fighter with the credentials and popularity of Baroni, he will start to open the eyes of everyone in the MMA world.
For Baroni, he has made a name for himself throughout his career with his boxing and knockout power. Don’t expect to see him try to change his game plan too much. With his strength and takedown defense, it will be tough for Sadollah to bring Baroni to the canvas – especially early in the fight. But look for Sadollah to try and wear Baroni down by pushing the action constantly. If Sadollah is able to wear Baroni down, he may be able to get him to the canvas late in the fight and be in position to try and finish the fight.
ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRA VS. LUIZ CANE
Being the brother of a UFC champion leaves Rogerio with big shoes to fill in his first fight for the UFC. Although this may be his first fight inside of the Octagon, don’t expect Rogerio to be nervous come fight time. Entering Saturday night’s fight, he has put together an impressive 17-3 record – with notable wins over Kazushi Sakuraba and Dan Henderson. Rogerio knows the importance of making a good first impression in the UFC. With his credentials and an impressive victory on Saturday night, don’t be surprised if you hear his name being thrown into the mix as a top contender.
A Brazilian and member of the American Top Team, Luiz Cane has a 3-1 record inside of the Octagon – with his only loss coming by disqualification due to an illegal knee to the head against James Irvin. Currently ridding a three fight-winning streak, Cane knows the importance of getting a win on Saturday night with a potential title shot being in the future. Although Cane has been putting together an impressive run, there are still many fans out there who do not know a lot about him. While fighting on Pay-Per-View on Saturday night, Cane plans on changing that with an impressive performance.
In a fight that pits two similar fighting styles against each other, it will be interesting to see which fighter prevails. In a fight like this, the result of the fight may be determined by which fighter makes the first mistake. And with both men being fairly equal on the ground, it may come down to which fighter can win the standup war.
JACOB VOLKMANN VS. PAULO THIAGO
With a perfect 10-0 record, three-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler Jacob Volkmann is making his debut in the Octagon Saturday night. For a fighter, there is no better way to make your debut in the UFC than on Pay-Per-View, and as a newcomer to the UFC, it will be important for Volkmann to put on an impressive performance to show the fans and UFC management that he is a force at 170-pounds.
After starting his career with eleven straight victories – witch included a stunning victory over Josh Koscheck in his UFC debut - Thiago lost at UFC 100 to Jon Fitch – who happens to be a teammate of the first man the Brazilian beat inside of the Octagon, Koscheck. Wanting to get right back in the thick of things at 170 pounds, Thiago needs to come out and look sharp against the UFC newcomer.
In a clash of two different styles, look for Volkmann to use his strong wrestling roots by trying to bring the action of the fight to the canvas. For Thiago, look for him to try and keep the fight standing while looking for an opening to score a knockout. If Thiago does end up on his back, expect him to use his world-class jiu-jitsu skills from the bottom position. Although Volkmann will be undoubtedly trying to bring the fight down to the mat – don’t be surprised if he is able to stand toe to toe with Thiago and exchange punches.
JOSH KOSCHECK VS. ANTHONY JOHNSON
After the Brock Lesnar vs Shane Carwin bout was postponed due to illness, both Josh Koscheck and Anthony Johnson jumped at the chance on roughly three weeks’ notice to fight in the co-main event of UFC 106 and make their case for a 170-pound title shot.
When people watched Josh Koscheck on season one of The Ultimate Fighter, he was looked at as a wrestler that was trying to convert into a mixed martial artist. Years later, after multiple fights, Koscheck has turned into a well-rounded fighter that may get his chance to put UFC gold around his waist if he wins on Saturday night. Throughout his career, Koscheck has seemed to be close to getting his chance at the belt, but he hasn’t been able to come through in those big fights. On Saturday night, we will see if Koscheck can break that streak.
After winning by knockout less than a month ago over Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 104 in California, Anthony Johnson doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that he will be fighting for the second time in less than a month. After failing to make weight prior to his last fight, it took Johnson 41-seconds to score the knockout victory. Having fought less than four weeks ago, don’t expect to see Johnson perform any differently in this fight. Johnson took little to no damage in the fight. If anything, consider that fight to be nothing more then a typical sparring session.
In a fight that is almost guaranteed not to make it all three rounds, don’t blink when the Octagon gate closes on Saturday night – each fighter may be only a punch away from ending the fight. Johnson enters each fight with the same mindset – trying to score a knockout victory so the outcome of the fight doesn’t need to be decided by the judges. For Koscheck, even though he has looked undoubtedly better in his stand up game in each fight, don’t expect him to try and stand for too long with Johnson. Look for Koscheck to go back to his wrestling roots and try to finish the fight by using a ground and pound strategy.
TITO ORTIZ VS. FORREST GRIFFIN
Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin first met inside the Octagon at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, CA on April 15, 2006 – where Ortiz edged out a hotly debated split decision victory. While many have argued that Griffin actually won the fight, when the Octagon gate closes on Saturday night – the debate over their first fight will finally be put to rest.
After recovering from successful back surgery and ending a long-time feud with UFC President Dana White, the longest reigning UFC light heavyweight champion in history, Tito Ortiz, returns on Saturday night. Having not fought inside the Octagon since May 24, 2008 - where he lost a decision to current champion Lyoto Machida, Ortiz knows the importance of restarting his UFC career with a victory. Although Ortiz hasn’t won since beating Ken Shamrock in October of 2006, Ortiz believes that without a nagging back problem that had bothered him since fighting Randy Couture back in 2003 (one that has now been surgically repaired) people will once again see the caliber of fighter that previously put the championship belt around his waist. During the Tito Ortiz championship era, many people viewed him as the most dominant fighter in MMA, and at only 34 years old, it isn’t hard to believe that we may see him rise once again to the top of the division.
Winner of season one of The Ultimate Fighter and a former light heavyweight champion, Forrest Griffin is facing potentially the most important fight of his career. After winning fights over Hector Ramirez and Mauricio Rua, Griffin was given an opportunity to fight Quinton Jackson for the light heavyweight title at UFC 86 in 2008. Although Griffin entered the fight as an underdog, he went on to prove many people wrong by beating Jackson and becoming the champ. Unfortunately for Griffin, his reign as champion came to an end in his first title defense against Rashad Evans. The last time we saw Griffin fight was at UFC 101 against middleweight champion Anderson Silva. There, a fight that many thought would be a standup war turned into a one-sided affair – with Silva showing his dominant fighting ability by scoring a widely talked about knockout victory. With Griffin now coming off of back-to-back losses, people are starting to question if he still has the ability to beat the best fighters in the world. On Saturday night, Griffin will get his chance to show people that he still has the ability to become champion once again in the future.
When the Octagon gate closes on Saturday night, don’t expect to see either fighter stray away from their traditional game plans. Much like in their first fight, Ortiz will be looking to bring the action of the fight immediately to the canvas. If Ortiz is able to put Griffin on his back, look for him to rain down his signature elbows – trying to use his vicious ground and pound to force the stoppage of the fight. If Ortiz is unsuccessful in his attempt to bring Griffin to the canvas, he may have a sharper standup game than we have seen in the past, as he dedicated part of his training camp to work exclusively on boxing with world-renowned trainer Freddie Roach. For Griffin, look for him to try and keep the action of the fight standing. Regardless of who Ortiz has trained with during his camp, Ortiz would still much rather be working his ground and pound rather than his standup. In order for Griffin to make sure that he doesn’t end up being taken to the canvas, expect him to use less leg kicks.