The UFC announced a middleweight bout between Cung Le and Rich Franklin yesterday for UFC 148, scheduled for Las Vegas, Nevada on July 7th. Though the match is interesting, the match does not really affect the title picture in the weight division, as both fighters are definitely getting long in the tooth. Now comes news that another match of aging stars has been scheduled for UFC 148, as former lightheavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin meet in what is the rubber match of what will be a trilogy of fights for the two. Ortiz has stated it will be his retirement match, the swan song on his hall of fame career.
Both of the first two bouts went the distance, and both men have won one and dropped one, so the match makes sense – marketing wise and closure wise. And yes, the match is likely to go the distance, and is a good candidate for a five round bout.
Ortiz has been around a long time, since the early days of UFC, but Ortiz did get to drink the success of modern MMA. He is a prideful athlete, and he is going to have some motivation to leave the UFC with a win.
As for Griffin, the last time we saw him was in August of last year when he got wiped out by Mauricio Rua. Since then, Griffin has talked about a lack of motivation and desire. It will be important to see if Griffin has been able to rekindle the flame in his near one year layoff, or if he is still in a doldrum and doesn’t want to fight.
If Griffin is motivated, he should win this fight. He is younger by five years, and I trust in his ability to grind out an ugly fight that sees him pull away from Ortiz at the end.
Ortiz, though motivated, has lost a great deal of the athleticism that carried him early in his career. Though he has a good submission game (though we rarely saw it in his career) he is unlikely to finish Griffin.
This is another one to watch and see where the line comes in when it is released at the sportsbooks. And it is one to watch the training camps closely. My tendency this far out is to bet Ortiz, as Griffin’s fade has been noticeable since he got creamed by Anderson Silva, and Ortiz is likely to want to go out in style. But we shall see how these factors develop, the bout is still a long way away!