It was not the highlight reel knockout that Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell wanted; but the barrage of strikes at 3:59 in round three was more than enough to put an exclamation point on the final chapter of the Liddell/Ortiz saga.
Tito Ortiz looked improved on the feet compared to Liddell/Ortiz I (UFC 47), but even with improvements Liddell was too much. The fight was almost stopped in the final minute of round one, when a Ortiz was dropped by a right hook. Liddell pounced and began to pound away, but Ortiz was able to keep his composer and survive.
Sporting a cut on his left eyebrow, Ortiz was able to take Liddell down and control his back for a mere second late in round two. Liddell was able to use his uncanny ability to get to his feet and delivered a nasty elbow from the clinch to Ortiz’s nose.
The end came at 3:59 into round three, as Ortiz was once again hurt badly by Liddell’s right hand. Like round one, Liddell once again began to rain down blows, but this time Ortiz could do nothing but curl up and hope to by time. However, the punches began to land and the punishment was just too much.
Liddell improves to 20-3 and looks to be in a class of his own in the UFC light heavyweight division. The recent signing of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson poses the only real threat to him at this time, unless the UFC marketing machine can create something out of the extreme parody that saturates the 205 pound UFC division.
Ortiz drops to 15-5, but at only 31 years-old still has a very bright future in the UFC. Unlike Liddell, who looks to be in need of true competition, Ortiz has many intriguing possible match-ups in the UFC. Renato Sobral, Keith Jardine, Rashad Evans, and even a rematch with Forrest Griffin all are possible future main events.
Jardine, MacDonald Pull Off Upsets
Forrest Griffin and Keith Jardine had all the possibilities to be a war, and round one proved that. However, Keith Jardine made it a much shorter war than expected.
After looking stiff, nervous, and getting beat to the punch in the opening minutes, Jardine was able to land a crisp upper cut dropping Griffin. With only thirty seconds left in round one, Jardine quickly went to work, pounding away with punches to his stunned opponent. Griffin was unable to get any control of Jardine body and was unable to have a strong guard. Jardine viciously landed four straight heavy punches that set Griffin’s head bouncing off the canvas. The fight was stopped with ten seconds to go in round one.
The win propels Jardine into the top four light heavyweights in the UFC and could find himself in a title match sometime in 2007.
Griffin was devastated by the loss and the usually upbeat fighter could barley talk after the fight. Had Griffin won, he would have found himself in a title match with Chuck Liddell in July. However, the loss drops Griffin backdown into the mix at 205, and 2007 will offer more chances to work his way back up the ladder.
By the time the bell rang for the Jason MacDonald/Chris Leben bout, so many people had predicted MacDonald to upset Leben that it was unclear if his second round submission of Leben could even be counted as an upset.
MacDonald worked a very strict game plan that reassembled Randy Couture. MacDonald worked hard for takedowns and clearly wanted to work from the clinch. Leben was able to land some heavy shots, but MacDonald was able to fend off the shots and stick to his game plan.
Leben looked to be gassing as MacDonald snuck in a modified guillotine choke that rendered the Team Quest fighter almost unconscience. The win for MacDonald solidifies him as a legitimate contender at 185.
Arlovski Makes a Successful Return and Bisping Looks Dominate in His Debut
Andrei Arlovski did not need much time to defeated Marcio Cruz. After Cruz was able to score a takedown, both fighters went for leg locks, when Arlovski decided to kick Cruz in the head. The illegal move caused a stop in the action. Cruz said he was fine and Arlovski was warned, within seconds of the restart Arlovski crushed Cruz with a right hand to the jaw.
Arlovski would follow with strikes and earn him a much needed win in the UFC.
Michael Bisping fought off a few takedowns and submission attempts before unleashing heavy ground and pound and strikes to end Eric Schafer’s night. The bout was stopped at 4:24 into round one.
The win pushed Bisping to the mix at 205 and set him up for some big time opponents in 2007.
Christian Wellisch defeated Anthony Perosh by decision.
Yushin Okami defeated Rory Singer with a submission by strikes in round three.
Gabriel Gonzaga defeated Carmelo Marrero by arm-bar in round one.
Thiago Alves defeated Tony DeSouza by KO with a knee strike in round two.