It is still a little ways off, but the UFC announced their return to Georgia on their FUEL TV News show, as Atlanta will host UFC 146 on April 21st. No matches were announced for the event, so I am going to do some speculating here, and predict that we will see a trilogy close out in the Peachtree State. Yes, a third fight, a rubber match between veterans Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin has been talked about in some circles, but there are a lot of reasons why the UFC should put the fight together.
Griffin’s last appearance was an uninspired 2 minute loss to Mauricio Rua in August of 2011, and that bout was surrounded by talk that Griffin just didn’t have that fire in his belly anymore. Forrest is certainly on the way down in terms of the lightheavyweight pecking order, and he has never really been the same athlete since he was smashed by Middleweight Champ Anderson Silva.
Perhaps fighting in his home state of Georgia will serve to motivate Griffin? From the UFC’s perspective, he might still have some drawing power at the live venue. And Ortiz is probably the best case scenario opponent for Griffin.
If Griffin were to be put in a fight with any of the top Lightheavyweights, he would likely lose. He is 1-1 with Ortiz, and won their most recent encounter back in 2009, so he has to feel this match is winnable. It would be a good way to go out, with a ‘W’ and closing out the trilogy.
For Ortiz’ part, he should also like his chances with Griffin, and whether we like it or not, when Ortiz fights, it gets people’s attention. The guy will hype the fight, and it will justify main event or co-main event status for UFC 146.
Should this match happen, the winner will all depend on whether Griffin is feeling motivated or not. The motivation factor is not an issue with Tito, as Ortiz is looking for a few big pay days before he retires. The issue with Tito is his waning athleticism. With Griffin it is purely mental, and if he shows up just to burn the last fight off his contract, Tito will win the fight.
The strongest reason the fight may happen is that it benefits the UFC to have two of their waning stars fight in a competitive match. It is a good way to get rid of one coming of a loss, and to get a measure of where you go with the winner. Whatever the case 2012 is likely the last year we will see one of these two athletes in the Octagon.