Tito Ortiz was a man with a point to prove. 2003 and 2004 had not been good to him after convincing defeats to Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell and the loss of the Light-Heavyweight Championship. His decision win over youngster Patrick Cote at UFC 50 impressed no one and he had his work cut out versus the dangerous, Vitor Belfort if he was going to save his UFC career.
The first UFC pay per view of 2005, took place on February 5, 2005, from the UFC's familiar home of Las Vegas, Nevada. Ortiz vs Belfort was the headliner. It was a different Ortiz than the one who had looked past his best in his previous three outings. He utilised his traditional ground and pound game-plan and weathered several storms from Belfort to edge a Split Decision win.
However, it was post-fight that the old Tito truly re-surfaced. After the decision, Ortiz walked around the stands, brandishing the American flag before returning to the Octagon and calling out Chuck Liddell and Ken Shamrock, who were in attendance in the crowd.
Ortiz insulted the pair to the point where both attempted to brawl with him. Ortiz was back.
Pete Sell choked out Phil Baroni in the co-headliner. Baroni hadn't been himself since his controversial loss to Evan Tanner at UFC 45 and looked like a beaten man before he entered the Octagon. He was a beaten man when he left it.
Andrei Arlovski earned the Interim Heavyweight Championship when he quickly defeated former Champion, Tim Sylvia in a shock result. Arlovski grounded the mammoth Sylvia quickly and locked in a foot lock to win via submission.
Evan Tanner finally won the Middleweight Championship in a fight with David Terrell. Tanner managed to lock Terrell in an armbar whilst he was being pounded in the face, displaying incredible toughness. A memorable title win for the UFC veteran.
Paul Buentello overcame Justin Eilers in the main card opener. Eilers looked in great shape but that was no consolation as he was pounded into submission by the powerful striking skill of Buentello who put himself in contention for a Heavyweight title match with his impressive performance here.
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UFC 51 more than doubled the buyrate of UFC 50 pulling in an impressive 105,000 buys.