Let’s get one thing straight: Last night’s co-main event was by no means a legacy-cementing fight. The legacies of both fighters had been cemented well before last night, with both Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz being very influential in the UFC’s push towards the mainstream, being involved in unforgettable fights and holding the light-heavyweight championship. While winning the trilogy would be a nice way to cap off an otherwise lackluster rivalry, it would be nothing more than another “W” in the grand scheme of things. Especially for Tito – while Forrest is arguably worthy of a Hall of Fame induction, Tito already has been inducted.
Which perhaps explained why Tito Ortiz seemed more aggressive throughout the fight: Forrest had little to lose, Tito had nothing to lose. While the aggression of “The People’s Champion” seemed to have Forrest Griffin on the verge of defeat a few times during the fight, in the end it wasn’t enough. For the majority of the fight, Griffin managed to outstrike Ortiz en route to the unanimous decision victory.
Really, there is little more to be said for the actual fight. Two aging veterans entered the cage and performed like aging veterans. Both men looked slow, both men gassed out early, and if it weren’t for the names involved, this fight would have had zero chance of taking home the $75k Fight of the Night honors. If you want to watch the fight again, watch the fight again - if you missed it, you didn’t miss much.
As for the implications of the bout: Does the victory for Forrest Griffin keep him relevant in the light-heavyweight division? Don’t be crazy – Griffin looked unmotivated and admitted to letting himself be lazy throughout the fight. Does the victory improve his chances of getting into the UFC Hall of Fame? Ask Frank Shamrock to comment on whether admission into the UFC Hall of Fame relies strictly on your record. Forrest Griffin’s Hall of Fame credentials begin with his legendary bout against Stephan Bonnar and end with his victory over Rampage Jackson for the light-heavyweight title. The fact that he jabbed and wheezed his way through three rounds against a fellow aging veteran should be treated for what it is: A footnote in his career. Even if he lost last night, I’d still be convinced that he’ll one day be in the UFC Hall of Fame.
As for his bizarre post-fight decision to walk out of the cage and head towards the locker room? I’ll leave that for you all to debate. To me, what was supposed to be a time for Tito to receive one last ovation from the fans became a collective “WTF” moment for everyone involved. Rather than continuing to focus on Griffin’s antics, let’s put the spotlight back where it belongs. Thank you for the memories, Tito. It’s a shame you went out winning only one of your last nine fights, but your legacy as one of our sport’s greatest light heavyweights had been cemented well before this.
Speaking of legacies, Cung Le certainly improved his with a hard-fought victory over the returning Patrick Cote. The decorated forty year kickboxer and former Strikeforce champion picked up his first victory in the UFC over arguably his toughest test to date. Le used his dynamic striking to outpoint Cote and pull off the upset; although when Cote was able to get inside against Le, he was able to do some damage.
While a victory in the UFC is a feather in the cap of any martial artist, it’s doubtful that Le has too much further to go from here. Aside from being forty years old, he’s also a somewhat one dimensional fighter attempting to make his way through a division with wrestlers like Jake Shields, Chael Sonnen, Chris Weidman and Mark Munoz, just to name a few. Even guys like Michael Bisping, Brian Stann and Alan Belcher are balanced enough to keep Le from the deep end of the division. This isn’t meant to take away anything from Le – it’s a reminder rather that he’s not an answer to the stalemate that has become the UFC middleweight division.
As for the rest of the fights on the main card, they happened. I wish I could say more for them than that, but honestly, there’s nothing that even can be said for them. Sorry, Maia fans, but I’m not going to act like a forty-seven second freak injury tells us anything about Demian Maia‘s attempt to rejuvenate his career by dropping to welterweight. Likewise, we’ve literally said since the booking of the fight that Mendes vs. McKenzie was a ridiculous mismatch. The fact that it ended the way it did, a thirty-second body shot KO, proved it. Also, Easton vs. Menjivar provided fans exactly what they expected: A fast paced unanimous decision that has become par for the course whenever the bantamweights are in the cage. Easton came out on top, looking good, but not great. Expect at least one more victory from Easton before he’s trusted with a title shot. Meanwhile, Menjivar drops to 24-9 in his career, and will be back to the drawing board after winning three straight in the UFC before last night.