Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009 | 3:06 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun boxing/MMA writer Brett Okamoto talks with fellow sports writer Ryan Greene and videographer Christine Killimayer about what they thought of the fights at UFC 106 at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday.
- Complete Coverage: UFC 106
- UFC 106 predictions
- Breaking down UFC 106: Tito Ortiz v. Forrest Griffin
- Video: UFC 106 pre-fight press conference
- Forrest Griffin: Life's good, I'm very happy with life in general
- Tito Ortiz ready to return to where he belongs
- Unlike last fight, Anthony Johnson should have no weight problem
- Josh Koscheck ready and willing for showdown with Johnson
- Amir Sadollah, Phil Baroni in similar situations leading up to fight
As many are well aware, Forrest Griffin’s success as a writer nearly equals his success as a fighter.
On Saturday night, following his split decision win over Tito Ortiz at Mandalay Bay Events Center, Griffin finished a chapter in his own life.
The Anderson Silva chapter.
After reporting to the post-fight press conference full of jokes and smiles, Griffin tended to some unfinished business with the UFC middleweight, who he ran out on after losing badly to three months ago.
“I’m sorry I ran out on you, it was no disrespect,” Griffin was heard saying to Silva towards the back of the media center. “I just wanted it to be a great fight and I was really disappointed when it wasn’t.”
It was a much different Griffin following Saturday’s fight than the one that took the first plane back to Las Vegas after his loss to Silva in Philadelphia.
With UFC President Dana White and other fighters from the card already in their seats and fielding questions from the press, Griffin snuck in late and interrupted Amir Sadollah in mid-sentence, claiming he had a question.
“No, no, it’s my turn I have a question,” interrupted Griffin as one reporter started to address Ortiz. “Sorry I’m late. My question is for Dana, ‘Who do you think won the fight?’ I thought I won, I thought you could even give me every round. That was my question and my answer to my question.”
Really, things couldn’t have fallen into place better for Griffin than they did Saturday night.
Not even originally scheduled to fight Ortiz, Griffin stepped up for the fight when Mark Coleman was forced to pull out of the fight with Ortiz due to injury.
Next, as fate would have it, UFC heavyweight Brock Lesnar pulled out of his scheduled bout at UFC 106 due to illness, opening the door for Griffin’s fight with Ortiz to become the night’s main event.
Basically out of thin air, Griffin had become the main event against the perfect opponent — a guy he had wanted to fight for years after losing a narrow split decision to him in 2006.
“There was definitely a revenge factor in this fight,” said Griffin’s trainer, Jimmy Gifford. “It’s like in the NFL when you sit down at the beginning of the season with the 17-week long schedule and you see in week nine, ‘Oh yeah, we’re playing these guys. I can’t wait to get back at these guys.’ That’s what this was like.
“This was the perfect fight because I knew Forrest was going to show up against this guy.”
The only thing that seemed to go wrong leading up to Griffin’s comeback was a series of injuries, that began four weeks before the fight when he suffered from a pinched nerve in his neck.
That was followed by a rib injury three weeks before the fight and then a broken right foot two weeks before.
“That happened about two weeks ago,” Gifford said, referring to Griffin’s foot injury. “But Forrest and I have a theory that if you’re 100 percent coming into a fight, you probably didn’t train.
“It didn’t matter. Forrest could have had one arm and he would have fought this fight.”
With a training camp based on forgetting the pressure of fighting and remembering how to enjoy the sport, Griffin gave an inspired performance against one of the biggest legends of the sport.
While some, including Ortiz, felt that getting taken down in early rounds cost Griffin the fight, the majority of fans seemed fine awarding the fight to Griffin who dominated the final round.
“I thought we won the first round, I thought we won every exchange,” Gifford said. “The second round I honestly thought we lost, he really opened up Forrest with some big elbows.
“In the third round I felt like Tito mentally quit. We felt like we could test his will and I think Tito mentally broke in the third round. Forrest dominated it.”
Griffin was gracious after his comeback win, telling Ortiz that the score was now 1 to 1 and that there would have to be a third.
Although White said it was way too early to even think about that, he did say that there would probably be interest in a third and even grinned and shrugged when the idea of the two becoming coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter was brought up.
“Bottom line, they were both great fights,” White said. “They were both close and I think there is a rubber match there.”
Whether that fight happens or not, there’s no need for Griffin to do anything but enjoy the moment of Saturday.
Even as a New York Times bestselling author, it’s hard to imagine he could have wrote a better ending to the night.
“He needed this win as bad as anybody has ever needed a win,” Gifford said. “It was a tough place to come from. Wanting to pressure Anderson and have what happened. This was a huge win — mentally and emotionally — for this kid.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.