UFC 121 Recap: Tito Ortiz's Defeat Reminds Us It's a New Era

via fightstrike.com

"A lion, worn out with years, lay on the ground at the point of death. A Boar rushed upon him, and avenged with a stroke of his tusks a long remembered injury. Shortly afterwards the Bull with his horns gored him as if he were an enemy. When the Ass saw that the huge beast could be assailed with impunity, he let drive at his forehead with his heels."

Tito Ortiz has not won a fight since October of 2006. In that time he has lost fights to Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida and Forrest Griffin. All three of those men have at one time held the UFC light heavyweight championship. Seeing the weakness in the once great Ortiz meant it was time for his former "student" from The Ultimate Fighter, Matt Hamill to take a shot at the legend.

Ortiz deserves credit for looking like a much improved striker and landing decent strikes in the first round but this is no longer the wrecking machine who was the long time king of the 205 pounders. This is a faded lion, unable to deal with the attacks of others.

Hamill started to get takedowns as the fight wore on and he sat on top landing punches and elbows, exactly the way that Tito Ortiz did back when he was king. Those days are gone and his career, worn out with years, lay on the ground at the point of death.

- From my large UFC 121 recap on SBNation.com/mma

There are days where it feels like it was just yesterday when the Randy Couture/Tito Ortiz/Chuck Liddell triangle at the top of the light heavyweight division helped to create a dramatic storyline that pushed the UFC for over a year. But since 2008 they are a combined 3-8, with all three wins belonging to Randy Couture. But even those wins are slightly uninspiring as they were a controversial decision over Brandon Vera, a dominant win over a beyond-faded Mark Coleman and an ultimately pointless domination of James Toney. While it was clear to most that the glory days were already gone there was always the hope that maybe a guy like Tito was one good, full, healthy camp away from finding a way to be "the man" for at least one more short run.

Tito's loss at UFC 121 to Matt Hamill is the first time in that stretch since 2008 that the man who took down one of the trifecta was not a top ten ranked fighter. Maybe he has some value in a promotion like Strikeforce where they are in desperate need of someone to fill out the light heavyweight division. But with diminished drawing power and faded skills the UFC can afford to let him go. Or maybe they take a whack at Tito/Chuck one last time to squeeze out a last dime before sacrificing the winner at the alter of youth, but any desperate hopes anyone had of a return to relevancy have been dashed.

Long gone are the days of perfect gameplans by Couture to dominate favored foes, destructive ground and pound from Ortiz and perfectly timed counter strikes from hell by Liddell. And while the future is undoubtedly bright with rising stars like Jon Jones and Ryan Bader, there is a hint of sadness that, in a young sport that develops so quickly, an era of three of the most dominant light heavyweights the sport has ever seen has passed.

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