'09 was a weird year for the UFC. While the events were selling well and had steady fan traction, the last half of the year found injury after injury mucking up their now, mostly bi monthly, fight cards.
And, so it goes that both the headliner and co-main event of UFC 106 on November 21, 2009 in Las Vegas were marred, first by the original main event of Brock Lesner versus Shane Carwin being scrapped due to Lesner coming down with a mystery ailment (later diagnosed as diverticulitis) and then, at the beginning of October, Mark Coleman sustained a leg injury forcing him out of his supporting-turned-headlining bout with Tito Ortiz. Thus, the headliner inexplicably became a rushed rematch between Forrest Griffin and Ortiz. This wasn't exactly a rematch fans had been clamoring for since both Griffin and Ortiz were coming off a couple of losses and Ortiz had been inactive due to one of his many a contract freeze outs and injury recovery periods.
The night began with Aussie grappler George Sotiropoulos flexing some of his standup versus an undersized Jason Dent before taking the fight to the mat where he is simply too much for Dent, outhustling, positioning, and finally submitting Dent with an armbar. Caol Uno versus Fabricio Camoes is a decent fight for fans of grappling. Camoes throws wild but powerful strikes standing, wheeling and turning the more technical veteran Uno, who then forces much of the fight on the floor where the two men engage in a positioning and damage done stalemate. Brock Larson versus Brian Foster is a really ugly but fun affair with both men going 100%. Unfortunately for Larson that means some unintentional fouls, like a knee to Foster's head while Foster was on the ground, leading to point deductions and frustration. The fouls seem to deflate Larson and just get Foster more angry. Scrappy fight.
In order to boost pay per view buys the UFC often broadcasts prelim fights on Spike tv which is where both Kendall Grove versus Jake Rosholt and Ben Saunders versus Marcus Davis aired. Okay stuff from guys floating in the b level ranks of the UFC. Both fights are fairly brief, ending early via a slick submission and a brutal KO.
The main card features two matches that would normally be stuff relegated undercard, Amir Sadollah versus Phil Baroni and Paulo Thiago Jacob Volkmann, the latter a literal example as it was a prelim that was boosted to the main card after the Lesner bout fell through. And, that is pretty much all that needs to be said about them.
Moving on to the more significant bouts, Luiz Cane versus Antonio Rogerio Nogueira found light heavyweight prospect Cane facing the UFC debuting but longtime MMA veteran "Little Nog," the twin brother of heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The fight is entirely standup and fearsome striker Cane seems to have problems facing another Southpaw, especially one like Rogerio, who has a solid boxing pedigree to go with his submission grappling prowess. The Josh Koscheck versus Anthony Johnson matchup found perennial welterweight contender Koscheck against the up and coming KO artist Johnson. Thankfully, the DVD leaves in an extended illegal knee/eyepoke and recovery time fiasco that Koscheck must deal with. Its the sort of live event quirk they sometimes choose to clip out, but, while it slows down the fight, I think it is essential to understanding MMA as a sport with warts and all.
Tito Ortiz versus Forrest Griffin 2 goes, pretty much, like Tito Ortiz versus Forrest Griffin 1. First round, Tito gets a takedown and does some damage on Forrest. Second round Forrest has better bearings, tags Tito on the feet and scrambles or defends getting put on his back. Round three, Tito has nothing, is just surviving, while Forrest lands at will but doesn't overextend himself looking for the kill.
Post fight, after all the prefight hype of Tito being physically fit for the first time in years, Tito claims he fought with a "cracked skull." Gee, that makes Tito look tough but it also paints a poor picture of the Nevada athletic commission for clearing him to fight, doesn't it? No one expects an athlete, especially a fighter, to always be 100%. But it remains that Tito's career over the past decade has been spotty, beating only washed up fighters, gamely going the distance with worthy opponents, but always pulling an injury excuse out of his pocket. Its basically, like his trash talking persona, an irrelevant way to remain relevant. The two vow they are willing to fight a third time. I expect a third fight will be about as welcome as the second, which isn't much.
The DVD: Anchor Bay
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen. The UFC was ever so slightly ahead of the curve as far as higher definition broadcasts for their pay per views. Good quality image. Sharp. From the sticky red of blood to tan sweat soaked skin, colors are well-rendered. No fussy compression problems, which was a common problem with some of the past UFC DVD's that they seem to have fixed.
The event is presented with the standard dual language commentary, English or Spanish, in 2.0 stereo. Basic sports stuff. Nothing amazing in the mixing but everything is crisp and clear and responsive.
A second disc houses the extras. The first and most substantial are the prelims. I don't think its really all that fair to say including prelims on a fight card are an extra. Its like saying, "The disc has a menu," and including that on the extra list. So, that said, the only real extras are Weigh-In footage (15:20) and Behind the Scenes featurette (24:58). The latter mainly focuses on Ortiz and Griffin, fleshing out some backstory, lots of pre and post fight interview footage, and it takes the place of the regular one hour countdown show that air for most UFC's on Spike tv.
Not the best UFC event of 2009, one hampered by illness and injury. It goes without saying that die hard MMA fans should opt for a purchase, especially in light of how UFC DVD's are usually found pretty cheap. For the rest, I'd say a rental would be fine.