Several pay-per-view customers noted that a great number of seats were apparently unsold for UFC 60. But UFC 61's main event between Ortiz and Shamrock guarantees that won't happen this time.
UFC 61: Bitter Rivals is stacking up to be the hottest "must see" event of the year, if not in the history of the UFC's short but storied existence. Tickets are already hard to find. As of June 5, 2006, UFC 61 is offically on track to be the fastest pay-per-view sell out to-date. All octagon-level floor seats are soldout, and fewer than 2,000 tickets remain.
UFC 61 will be held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, July 8, 2006. The event will be broadcast live on pay-per-view in the United States.
The main event between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock was originally placed on hold due to Ortiz's knee injury during his last bout; UFC President Dana White had even confirmed that Ortiz would be replaced by crowd favorite Forrest Griffin.
What happened next is rather questionable. Some insist that only after it was revealed that Ortiz has a fractured fibula, and not an ACL tear as originally feared, did Ortiz decide to go ahead with the scheduled Shamrock fight. But Ortiz is a man who stirs strong passions in people--both pro and con. We may want to wait a bit before snapping to any judgements on why Ortiz threw his hat back into the ring
So why the bad blood between Shamrock and Ortiz? It seems to have much to do with Shamrock's Lion's Den--his MMA training club for up-and-coming fighters--and a March 5th, 1999 rematch between Ortiz and Lion's Den pupil Guy Mezger.
Mezger had gotten the better of a relatively inexperienced Ortiz in their first match. But in UFC 19: Ultimate Young Guns, Ortiz carried the day with strikes for a TKO. After winning the fight, Ortiz put on a shirt that read "Gay Mezger Is My Bitch" and gave the finger to the Lion's Den team. Let's call it a lack of sportsmanship, in place of something else...
Thus began both his rivalry with the Lion's Den and the personal dislike Shamrock has for Ortiz.
In case you're a "new guy" to the UFC saga that is Shamrock/Ortiz, on one previous occassion Shamrock did get a chance to fully express himself to Ortiz for that humiliation. Their first match-up occurred on Nov 22, 2002, in UFC 40: Vendetta. It was wildly anticipated; Ortiz vs Shamrock helped make the affair one of the highest-selling mixed martial arts Pay-Per-View events of all time in the United States. It has since become an audience favorite.
Now, Shamrock thought, was his chance to put Ortiz in his place, to kick the boy's ass. There was one problem with Ken's plan: at UFC 40, Tito did most of the kicking. Ortiz defeated Shamrock, with Shamrock's corner throwing in the towel.
So who will win this time? Most feel sure Tito will likewise carry the day in this second match-up, and I'm tending to agree with them. I'm not as convinced that age is the principal factor here, although in Shamrock's case one must wonder. While it's rumored that Ken's recently devolped a tougher work ethic than many have seen from him in a while, he is 42 years old, and he has lost a number of his recent Mixed Martial Arts matches.
By contrast Ortiz is more than a full 10 years younger and has won his most recent fights, beating such competition as Patrick Cote, Vitor Belfort, and Forrest Griffin.
No doubt Ken has heart--but does he still have what it takes to beat one of the best UFC fighters, one who's still clearly at the top of his game? It would be plain silly to blindly count out Ken Shamrock. But judging solely by each man's recent fight history, we have to say that Ortiz willl probably take this match.
Dana White also announced that Tim Sylvia will defend the UFC Heavyweight Title against Andrei Arlovski--a match requested by Sylvia, the new champion.
One side note: Forrest Griffin is too big a box office draw to send home after putting him on the roster for UFC 61. The bigwigs are looking hard for a new, last-minute Griffin opponent; but currently it's unknown if he will even compete at UFC 61.
Current announced matchups:
Light Heavyweight Bout: Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock
Heavyweight Championship Bout: Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski
Heavyweight Bout: Cheick Kongo vs Gilbert Aldana
Heavyweight Bout: Dan Christison vs. Frank Mir
Welterweight Bout: Josh Burkman vs. Josh Neer
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