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UFC 59 - Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz and Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski

By Cliff Montgomery,
UFC 59: Reality Check was one of those rare sporting events which will be remembered for not just one, but two spectacular matches sure to be talked about for years to come. Broadcast live via pay-per-view in the U.S. and held by the Ultimate Fighting Championship on April 15, 2006 in Anaheim, California, UFC 59 was the first-ever UFC event held in that state since its legalization of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) contests.

Anyone who worried about California's response to a UFC event must be pleased. The interest was overwhelming; tickets for the affair quickly sold out. It was in fact the fastest sell out in UFC history.

Below we will try to give at least a basic summary of every fight that evening. But we will, of course, give prime space to the two shockers everyone's talking about, Ortiz vs. Griffin, and Arlovski vs. Sylvia.

So here's a basic breakdown of the fights:

Welterweight Bout: Drew Fickett vs Thiago Alves

A quick match, with Alves defeating Noble by TKO at 2:54 of Round 1. This was a preliminary bout which did not air on the pay-per-view broadcast.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Jason Lambert vs Terry Martin

Lambert routed Martin by TKO at 2:37 of Round 2. Like the Fickett-Alves fight, this was a preliminary match which did not air on the pay-per-view broadcast.

Welterweight Bout: Karo Parisyan vs Nick Thompson

In a crowd-pleasing match, Parisyan pounds Thompson into tapping out to strikes at 4:44 of Round 1. This was also a preliminary fight which did not air on the pay-per-view broadcast.

Middleweight Bout: David Terrell vs Scott Smith

An interesting bout, Terrell takes out Smith by rear naked choke at 3:08 of Round 1. This was another preliminary bout that did not air on the pay-per-view broadcast.

Heavyweight Bout: Jeff Monson vs Marcio Cruz

Monson defeats Cruz by split decision with scores of 30-27, 28-29 and 29-28.

Middleweight Bout: Evan Tanner vs Justin Levens

Tanner was initially scheduled to battle Jeremy Horn, who was removed from the card because of a back injury sustained during training. Tanner defeats Levens by triangle choke at 3:14 Round 1.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Tito Ortiz vs Forrest Griffin

In what is surely the most talked-about moment in recent UFC history, a controversial split decision gave Ortiz the win over fan favorite Forrest Griffin with scores of 30-27, 28-29, 29-27.

I can understand the feeling Griffin fans have; it was surely a damn close match by any standard--the split decision is proof of that--and Griffin did have moments of sheer brilliance, on top of clearly besting Ortiz in the 2nd. In fact, I should admit my own bias here, and state that Forrest Griffin is my current UFC favorite as well.

But the match went to the cards, which makes it a matter of UFC scoring rules. Therefore higher scores must be given for certain successful moves--for instance, a successful takedown of an opponent creates a much higher score than sprawls or submission attempts. This is not an excuse for the judges' decision, but it is stating the obvious.

Ortiz did score a number of successful takedowns against Griffin, especially in the first, where even die-hard Griffin fans like me have to admit our boy was in dire straits. And to be honest, it was only in the 1st round where we see one fighter push the other almost to the breaking point, thereby almost certainly giving Ortiz a score of 10-8 for that round.

You may say that such scoring sucks, and that the strong recoveries by Griffin should count on the cards as much as a takedown, and you may well be right. But under current UFC rules, they don't...and that's why Ortiz rightly squeaked out a win on this one.

It was a beautiful match that could only make us respect both fighters more, and proves beyond doubt that Griffin is no 'flash-in-the-pan', but is pound-for-pound one of the top fighters in any combative sport. It was a matter for the judges though, and under current rules a successful ground-and-pounder will almost always win when it goes to the cards.

Welterweight Bout: Nick Diaz vs Sean Sherk

This was one of the less spectacular matches of the night. Sherk pretty much had the fight from the beginning, and so defeated Diaz by unanimous decision

Heavyweight Championship Bout: Champion Andrei Arlovski vs Tim Sylvia

If Ortiz/Griffin was the biggest controversy of UFC 59, Sylvia's dynamite knockout win over Arlovski was the biggest shock. But to gives props to Sylvia, this was no "lucky punch"--it was thrown and landed by a top-notch fighter. People who get to this level by hard work and determination don't throw "lucky punches."

Sylvia defeated Arlovski by TKO at 2:43 Round 1 to become the new UFC Heavyweight champion.

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