Why Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin III Is Necessary
The rubber match has a prized place in the heart of most combat sport fans.
Normally, it means a third serving of that wonderful meal that left us in love with the cooks in the first place, a sublime indulgence of the vicarious.
Some incredible trilogies have taken place in combat sports, both boxing and MMA: Barrera vs. Morales, Couture vs. Liddell, Ali vs. Frazier, Silva vs. Jackson, Marquez vs. Pacquiao, Gatti vs. Ward and so on.
A great trilogy is like being in storm country, with a privileged eye to the exact spot and time that lightning might strike next.
So, you may ask, given all of this, why on earth is the rubber match between Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin necessary, especially with no divisional ramifications attached?
Read on and find out.
Because the final bout in a trilogy is also meant to answer questions, in truth, we really don’t know who is the best between Ortiz and Griffin.
Both of the first two fights saw each fighter enjoy some dominance.
For Ortiz, it was the first round of their first fight at UFC 59. For Griffin, it was the third round of their second bout at UFC 106. The remaining four rounds are a toss up that could be seen for either fighter.
The best aspect of this is that each fighter has this last and only chance to stamp their name atop the other. This is crunch time for them both and with Ortiz retiring after, the man who wins is going to get this last laugh, and it will be lingering for a long time.
Simply put, what makes this rubber match great is that more than the other fights, this one is for bragging rights.
Moths to a Flame
No matter what you may think of both fighters, the simple fact is that they are wildly popular.
To be blunt, they put butts in seats and sell pay-per-views.
For the old guard, they find Ortiz to be their link to the past, when such icons as Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Tank Abbott, Frank and Ken Shamrock and others were ruling the MMA landscape.
Ortiz is one of the last remaining fighters of that era, and his fans will probably show up in droves to cheer him on one last time and give him either a victory after-party or a Viking burial.
For everyone else, there is the anti-Ortiz: Forrest Griffin.
Griffin is the Spike-era darling: the backstreet mutt with a heart of gold who just so happens to be one tough son-of-a-gun.
And he was involved in just about the greatest and most important fight in the history of the UFC.
For Griffin fans, to see their man defeat Ortiz would be a sweet thing indeed; white hat defeats black hat, and no matter what new nickname Ortiz might adopt, it is Griffin who is really “The People's Champion.”
This is really a case of like-attracts-like and opposites attract. Ortiz fans will tune in not only to support their man, but to watch the downfall of Griffin, and vice versa. And all the while, the cash register keeps ringing.
They Both Asked for It
No one ever thought that social media could do the legwork for matchmakers, but it is starting to make their lives a little easier.
A long time ago, it used to be that you had to put two fighters in a room together in order to get the heat started, but no more. Thanks to Twitter, fighters can “follow” each other long enough to pick a fight, all before the eyes of the viewing public.
Tito began the back-and-forth with Griffin on Twitter, and Forrest responded, saying that they both thought the other was an easy fight.
They both wanted it, worked for it and now they’ve got it, and so do we.
Wouldn’t it be great if boxing was like this? Pacquiao vs. Mayweather Jr. would have happened a long time ago.
The fight game is supposed to be easy, but after years of seeing promoters hold sway over the actual bouts, like a game of cups, fans are left with whatever the promoter decides to sell for that day.
This is not the case in MMA, specifically the UFC. When fighters work between themselves, such as Ortiz and Griffin, they should see the fruits of their labor waiting for them in the cage.
The 1st and 3rd Are Usually Better Than the 2nd
For some reason, the first and third fights in a trilogy are usually the best.
The first fight being so simply because it looks like it will be the only fight, and both men go after each other with no small amount of confidence. They don’t know they are going to participate in a fight that will necessitate a sequel plus-one. All they know is that victory is in their grasp, and they go after it.
The second fight seems to ebb because both men are suddenly fighting to avoid defeat rather than secure victory. They’ve watched all the tape and aren’t going to make the same mistakes as they did the first time.
And they aren’t going to thrill the crowd, either.
But then comes the third fight, and just like in writing a drama, a strong ending is just as important as a strong beginning. Both men are usually one-and-one, and they want those bragging rights badly.
Barrera vs. Morales, Gatti vs. Ward, Ali vs. Frazier, Couture vs. Belfort, Big Nog vs. Fedor, Leonard vs. Duran and many others have fallen into alignment with this rule of thumb, and Ortiz vs. Griffin III looks like it should as well.