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UFC 126 notebook: Forrest Griffin victorious in return after year-plus absence


Justin M. Bowen

Forrest Griffin works out during UFC 126 open workouts Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011, at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

UFC 126 fight night

Demetrious Johnson takes down Kid Yamamoto during their bantamweight bout at UFC 126 Saturday, February 5, 2011 at Mandalay Bay Events Center.  Johnson won by unanimous decision. Launch slideshow »

It didn’t take long for Forrest Griffin to work off the rust at UFC 126 following his 14-month layoff from competition while recovering from a shoulder injury.

The light heavyweight needed about 30 seconds Saturday against Rich Franklin at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, taking Franklin down early in the first and not letting him up for the remainder of the five-minute round in his unanimous-decision victory.

All three judges scored the three-round fight in favor of Griffin, 29-28.

Griffin (18-6), who was a slight betting underdog, was all smiles in the post-card media coverage. While the sudden news of Jon Jones replacing Rashad Evans for the light heavyweight title in March at UFC 128 against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua stole the spotlight, Griffin was simply happy to be back in action — and, most importantly, victorious.

“If you want to be a professional fighter in the UFC, you should probably at least win a fight a year,” Griffin, a former champion himself, said jokingly. “That should be your goal. So, I’m good for the year.”

Griffin’s 6-foot-3 frame, about three inches taller than Franklin, could have been the difference. Once Griffin got Franklin (28-6) on his back in the first round, he was able to deliver several significant blows and easily claim the round because his size appeared too much for Franklin to escape from.

Patience helps Miguel Torres

Miguel Torres’ bantamweight bout victory against Antonio Banuelos was one of the more convincing wins of the night with Torres winning 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecard for the unanimous-decision victory.

Torres, a former World Extreme Cagefighting champion competing in his first UFC fight, said controlling his aggressive style was the key to his win.

“It had been a problem before where I was too aggressive,” Torres said. “I had a game plan. My first two fights I lost in the WEC were because I was too aggressive. It was a learning experience for me. I trained a specific game plan to use my reach and my boxing skills.”

For the record

The Submission of the Night was awarded to Jones for his Guillotine choke at 4:20 of second round to end the bout against Ryan Bader, while the Fight of the Night was Donald Cerrone’s victory over Paul Kelly.

The Knockout of the Night was obvious — Anderson Silva’s vicious kick to the face of Vitor Belfort to end the Main Event in the first round. It’s a knockout that will surely be replayed for years to come.

The fighters receive a $75,000 bonus.

The attendance was 10,893 with a gate of $3.6 million. Additionally, the number of media representatives credentialed — more than 200, according to UFC officials — was one of highest in organization's history. That can be credited to several from Brazil for the main event between Silva and Belfort, both Brazilians.

Down Under up next

UFC 127 will be in three weeks in Australia, featuring B.J. Penn against Jon Fitch in the Main Event. The fight sold out in 30 minutes when tickets went on sale in December.

This will be the UFC’s second time in Australia — UFC 110 was also a sellout. The card will be held at Acer Arena in Sydney.

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