Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
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With his number of losses closing in on the amount of wins he has had in his MMA career, it has become easy to forget that Tito Ortiz is still the UFC record holder for most consecutive title defenses as light heavyweight champion.
Earning just one win in his past eight appearances, the 37-year-old Ortiz has tainted his legacy is the minds of many by continuing to compete against the best 205-pound fighters in the world.
Now, it is believed that Ortiz will attempt to leave the sport on a high note and remind fans why he should be remembered as one of the best ever by defeating former UFC champion and The Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin in a rubber match.
Ortiz and Griffin have already spent six rounds inside the Octagon together, so there won't be many surprises for either competitor when they potentially meet later this year.
Let's take a look at which fighter could have the edge heading into what could be Ortiz's final fight.
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With his past four losses coming via knockout, Forrest Griffin's chin isn't as solid as many once made it out to be after his epic fight with Stephan Bonnar that helped launch the growth of MMA.
That being said, Tito Ortiz has been stopped with body shots in his past two fights, so Griffin will be looking to punish the body of his opponent with kicks.
In their second fight, FightMetric calculated that Griffin landed 46 more significant strikes than Ortiz, taking control of the matchup when he wasn't forced to fight off of his back.
A more diverse striker than Ortiz, Griffin's only disadvantage when standing with Ortiz will be that he has to be more concerned with defending takedowns than his opponent.
Throughout his career, Ortiz's ground-and-pound has led the former UFC champion to some of his most memorable wins, so it should come as no surprise that he should have an edge over Griffin in the wrestling department.
According to FightMetric, Ortiz scored three takedowns in each of his first two meetings with Griffin, successfully gaining the top position in four out of the six rounds in which the two fighters competed against one another.
When he meets Griffin for the third time, it's no secret that Ortiz will be looking to secure takedowns and rain down elbows. In fact, a victory in his final fight may depend on it.
As solid as Forrest Griffin's ground game is, Tito Ortiz is an opponent that no fighter wants to be on their back against. Ortiz used his ground-and-pound to claim many victories over the course of his career, including multiple wins over MMA legend and heated rival Ken Shamrock.
Coming from a wrestling background, Ortiz is very good at maintaining the top position once he takes his opponents to the canvas. From there, Ortiz relentlessly looks for the finish with punches and elbows.
Fighting off of his back, Griffin is certainly not a slouch, but he will likely lose against Ortiz if that is where he spends most of the fight.
During his 27-fight career, Ortiz has only been submitted twice and one of those two losses came via strikes. The only occasion Ortiz was forced to tap due to an actual submission hold was in the second fight of his career, which occurred nearly 15 years ago.
With a jiu-jitsu black belt under Robert Drysdale, Griffin has never been submitted and may be slightly more gifted offensively with submissions. It is going to be a tough task for him to force Ortiz to tap, but many also believed it unlikely that Griffin could submit Mauricio Rua and earn a UFC title shot.
At this stage in the respective careers of these two fighters, experience shouldn't be a factor in this fight.
Tito Ortiz began and will likely end his career in the UFC, but Forrest Griffin has competed against a number of the all-time great light heavyweights and is a former UFC champion, so his two fewer fights than Ortiz will make no difference in the outcome of this fight.
On the tail end of their great careers, Ortiz and Griffin are certainly not the athletic specimens they once were. However, Griffin's conditioning seems to have stayed with him, whereas the 37-year-old Ortiz may be losing a step in the later rounds of his fights.
In their second meeting, the first two rounds were very closely contested, but Griffin took advantage of a fading Ortiz in the third round to secure a decision victory. In the closing round of that bout at UFC 106, Ortiz was unsuccessful on two takedown attempts and was outlanded in strikes by a margin of 41 to 5.
Especially in a matchup where the fighters are so evenly matched, Ortiz's conditioning could be a huge determinant of this fight's outcome.
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Tito Ortiz is one of the pioneers of MMA and should be remembered as such, but there is a good chance he could be leaving the sport with one win in his last nine fights.
Considering his collapse in the third round of his second fight with Forrest Griffin, Ortiz will most likely have to win the first two rounds of this fight in order to secure victory in a evenly-matched bout that will likely go to decision.
Since he has already spent 30 minutes inside the Octagon with his opponent, Griffin knows Ortiz is going to be looking to take this fight to the ground, so he should be cautious enough with his striking to take one of the early rounds on the scorecards by keeping the fight standing.
Whereas Ortiz has simply been having problems with any top-flight competition, Griffin's recent losses have come against quick or unorthodox strikers. Since Ortiz is neither of those at this point in his career, expect Griffin to spoil his opponent's farewell party.
Griffin defeats Ortiz by unanimous decision.
Sean Smith is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. For the latest insight and updates on everything MMA, Follow Sean Smith on Twitter