With just over six weeks until UFC 106, Forrest Griffin (16-6) has apparently agreed to face Tito Ortiz (15-6-1) in the night's co-main event. Kevin Iole, of Yahoo Sports, was the first to break the story.
This fight is a rematch of a controversial split decision win for Ortiz at UFC 59 in April of 2006. In fact, that razor-thin loss to Ortiz was arguably what first put Forrest on the map as a legit future contender. Forrest famously went on to capture the UFC light heavyweight belt from "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 86, before surrendering it to Rashad Evans (13-1-1) at UFC 92.
This booking is yet another example of the UFC's uncanny ability to recover from apparent setbacks by scheduling better fights than the ones that have fallen through. In this case, Ortiz's showdown with the veteran Mark Coleman (16-9) was scrapped when "The Hammer" tore an MCL during training. Mere days later, this announcement has significantly improved the marketability of a card that was already headlined by Brock Lesnar (4-1) who is easily the biggest PPV draw on the UFC's roster. This bout comes as an even bigger surprise because Forrest had repeatedly stated that he intended to take a honeymoon with his wife and did not plan to return to action until early 2010. It appears that Aruba (or where ever) will have to wait for Mr. and Mrs. Griffin.
Griffin vs. Ortiz II is so compelling because both combatants are recent UFC light heavyweight champs in need of mid-career revivals. Certainly, neither fighter has been on a tear lately with Tito sitting at 2-2-1 since Ortiz vs. Griffin I, while Forrest has gone 4-3 in that time frame. Each also has something crucial to prove to UFC fans. Tito Ortiz, who is returning from spinal fusion surgery undergone in October of 2008, must verify his claim that he's back in peak physical condition for the first time in years, while Forrest, who is returning from getting thoroughly embarrassed by Anderson Silva (25-4) at UFC 101, is out to show fans that he still remembers how to fight at all.