Not only did Ortiz carry the banner of the UFC light heavyweight champion, White managed the controversial Californian during his ascension to the title. At the time, Zufffa promoted half a dozen events a year, and if it seemed like Ortiz headlined each one, it's because he pretty much did. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" appeared on UFC 29, 30, 32 and 33 in 10 months.
Coupling Zuffa's freshly scrubbed marketing push with Ortiz's brash personality, the Californian became the biggest name in the company when he throttled
It has been a winding, frustrating road since. Injuries to his back and legs took away much of the power that marked Ortiz's early career. Now he returns with a new UFC contract and surgically repaired back.
Testing him Saturday in Las Vegas is
First double-leg -- from pretty outside too -- is successful for Ortiz. From inside Griffin's guard, Ortiz is picking away. Short shots to the body followed by punches and elbows to the head. Griffin fights out of the position by going after a Kimura. Not sure if he meant it as a sweep or a sub, but it worked and the pair are clinched against the fense midway through the first.
He didn't do a lot of work here in the first round. Ortiz is attempting to walk Griffin into the cage, and tries to pass. The extra space gives Griffin room to breathe -- and stand.
A front kick to the face knocks out Oritz's mouthpiece and referee
Griffin is offering combinations now. Not a ton of power behind them, but his activity is troubling for "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy." A swift shot from Ortiz puts Griffin on his back again. But Forrest's guard is active and he's working more than Ortiz at this point.
A couple elbows land for Ortiz. He's staying tight, posturing when he can. And a strike lands for Ortiz that opens Griffin like a spigot. So, naturally, Griffin turns it on and sweeps Ortiz to half-guard. Griffin, bleeding all over Ortiz, fires short shots to close out the round. Rosenthal jumps in as Ortiz shoves off Griffin and moves to his corner.
Two minutes down and Ortiz still hasn't thrown a strike.
He was waiting for a low kick and Griffin defended. They're standing in the center of the cage. Griffin is fighting with energy. Ortiz ... well, he hasn't done anything.
A right hand from Griffin connects to Ortiz's chin. He stumbles some, but appears OK. One minute to go. Ortiz needs to turn it on.
A double-leg is stuffed.