Ben Fowlkes
Sunday November 22nd, 2009

UFC 106 may not have turned in the blockbuster heavyweight clash that it originally promised, but the UFC dug deep into its roster and made the best of a difficult situation in Las Vegas on Saturday night. The result was entertaining, if not earth-shattering, and there are a few lessons we can take with us as we leave the Mandalay Bay and head out into that glittering desert night:

1. If you're not a Forrest Griffin fan by now, you have no heart. Griffin may not be the best technical fighter in the UFC. He got knocked out by Rashad Evans and absolutely embarrassed by Anderson Silva. But just like his fights, Griffin's career is proof that good things happen if you keep getting up and plugging away. His victory over Ortiz was a hard-won redemption for Griffin, and a much needed one at that. He may have gotten outwrestled in the beginning, but he simply outworked Ortiz down the stretch to earn the decision. Magnanimous in victory and self-deprecating almost to a fault, it's almost impossible not to like the guy after Saturday night. He may not ever be a UFC champion again, and that's fine. A guy like that, who is equal parts class and grit, doesn't need a belt around his waist to get respect.

2. Admit it, it's good to have Tito Ortiz back in the UFC. The great thing about Ortiz is that you always know what you're going to get. He's going to spend six weeks in the lead-up to the fight talking smack, then he's going to show up, feed his opponent a steady diet of takedowns and ground-and-pound; and if he loses, we'll get to hear all about the injuries he fought through that -- it's at least implied -- cost him the fight. It would be monotonous if only it weren't so much fun. Ortiz started strong and then faded late against Griffin, and there were times were it was apparent that more than a decade spent in the cage has finally slowed him down just a touch. But as long as he's still fun to watch, and can still give anyone in the UFC's light heavyweight division a fight, it's nice to have the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" to kick around again.

3. Sooner or later, Josh Koscheck and Georges St. Pierre will meet again. Koscheck followed up his submission-win over Anthony Johnson by making his case for No. 1 contender status, telling Dan Hardy that he hasn't fought anyone. That might not go over well back home in San Jose where Koscheck's teammate, Mike Swick, is still licking his wounds after a decision loss against Hardy, but the point remains: Koscheck could very well be the second best welterweight in the UFC. The trouble is, he's already been beaten by GSP once, and the UFC often makes challengers jump through multiple hoops to earn a rematch against a current champ. Hardy's officially next in line at the moment, and though he probably has less of a shot against GSP than Koscheck does, at least the matchup is fresh. Koscheck will likely have to wait his turn, but that turn will come, and rightly so. On paper, he has the two things you need to beat GSP, and that's excellent wrestling and knockout power. Then again, having the ability to beat the champ in theory is one thing, and actually doing it is quite another.

4. Phil Baroni is an old dog who's up to the same tricks. Against Amir Sadollah on Saturday night, Baroni showed he can take a beating with the best of them, but his days of dishing it out are rapidly drawing to a close. Don't get me wrong, for the first three minutes of any fight Baroni is scary. But if you're still standing near the end of the first round, your odds of pulling out a victory against him are pretty good. Sadollah wore him down with leg kicks and a patient striking attack; and as the fight went on, Baroni only got slower and bloodier. He survived until the end on heart alone, of which he has a ton. But anyone who was hoping to see a resurgent Baroni in his latest UFC stint might as well forget that notion right now. He's still an entertainer, so he might get to collect a couple more paychecks from the UFC, but wins are going to be much harder to come by.

5. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira didn't come to the UFC just to keep his brother company. "Minotoro" Nogueira needed just a little under two minutes to stop rising light heavyweight prospect Luis Cane with a series of blistering left hands. For MMA fans who may have forgotten about the other Nogueira brother since his days in Pride -- or for those who were just too confused by twin brothers with almost identical names and nicknames to even realize they weren't the same person -- the quick stoppage should serve as notice that Nogueira is an instant contender in the UFC's 205-pound class. A guy with wins over the likes of Dan Henderson and Alistair Overeem shouldn't need to remind people of that, but in a sport where you're only as good as your last fight, a first-round knockout is a great way to send a message.

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