Former champs set to collide for third time in July
A pair of future UFC Hall of Famers will meet for the third time this summer.
Former light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin will complete their trilogy in July when they meet at UFC 148. Ortiz first posted news of the fight booking overnight on his Twitter account, and the UFC formally announced the matchup late Tuesday morning. Ortiz has indicated he is likely to retire from mixed martial arts after the fight. The first two fights between Ortiz and Griffin resulted in split decisions, with Ortiz winning the first at UFC 59 in April 2006 and Griffin winning the rematch at UFC 106 in November 2010.
The UFC 148 pay-per-view will take place July 7 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and will be preceded by a UFC Fan Expo, which will take place at Mandalay Bay.
Ortiz (16-10-1, 15-10-1 UFC) is one of the most successful fighters in UFC history. He won the light heavyweight title at UFC 25 in April 2000, then defended it five times before losing to Randy Couture at UFC 44. Ortiz lost his next fight, at UFC 47, to Chuck Liddell, but then went on a five-fight winning streak that got him a shot at then-champ Liddell’s belt. But a loss in that title fight at UFC 66 started a rough stretch for “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.”
Starting with the loss to Liddell in December 2006, Ortiz lost six of eight fights, which included a draw against Rashad Evans when Ortiz lost a point for holding onto the cage. He lost decisions to Lyoto Machida, Griffin and Matt Hamill, but then rebounded in a big way with his career likely on the line. At UFC 132, he submitted Ryan Bader in the first round for arguably the biggest upset of 2011. But a month later, in a short-notice fight against Evans, Ortiz lost by second-round TKO and followed that at UFC 140 with a first-round TKO loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The fact that Ortiz fought three times in 2011 was somewhat remarkable, given he fought just one time a year in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Griffin (18-7, 9-5) will return to action for the first time in nearly a year when he steps in for the third time against Ortiz. The Season 1 light heavyweight winner of “The Ultimate Fighter,” whose first fight against Stephan Bonnar at the TUF 1 Finale is considered the most important fight in UFC history, has not competed since a UFC 134 loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in Brazil last August. That loss snapped a two-fight winning streak that saw him beat Ortiz by split decision at UFC 106, then Rich Franklin at UFC 126.
Griffin became the second TUF winner (after Season 4 champ Matt Serra) to win a UFC belt when he took Quinton Jackson to a decision at UFC 86, outpointing “Rampage” to win the 205-pound title. But he lost the belt in his first defense when he was knocked out by Evans in the third round at UFC 92. In his next fight out, Griffin fought middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a superfight at light heavyweight, but was knocked out in the first round.
UFC 148 is expected to feature a bantamweight title fight between champion Dominick Cruz and challenger Urijah Faber upon the completion of their coaching stints on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter LIVE” on FX. On Monday, the UFC also announced a middleweight fight between Michael Bisping and Tim Boetsch for the card. And on Sunday, it was announced former UFC champion Rich Franklin and former Strikeforce champ Cung Le would meet.