UFC 61: Bitter Rivals was a mixed martial arts event held by the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday, July 8, 2006. The event took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada and was broadcast live on pay-per-view in the United States. With a live gate at $3,350,775, it nearly eclipsed the all-time mark for UFC events set at UFC 57.
Welterweight Bout: Drew Fickett vs. Kurt Pellegrino
Fickett defeated Pellegrino by submission (rear naked choke) at 1:20 of round three. Pellegrino made his UFC debut with this bout. This bout was not aired on the broadcast.
Heavyweight Bout: Gilbert Aldana vs. Cheick Kongo
Kongo defeated Aldana by technical knockout (doctor stoppage) at 4:13 of round one. Kongo made his UFC debut with this bout. This was a preliminary bout, and was not aired on the broadcast.
Heavyweight Bout: Jeff Monson vs. Anthony Perosh
Monson defeated Perosh by technical knockout (strikes) at 2:22 of round one. Perosh made his UFC debut with this bout. The announcers on the UFC broadcast suggested that Monson would be the next heavyweight title challenger against Tim Sylvia, and that he was the original slated challenger for the title until the rematch with Arlovski was signed. This bout was not aired on the broadcast, although highlights were shown at the end.
Catchweight (165 lb) Bout: Hermes Franca vs. Joe Jordan
- Initially scheduled as a Lightweight contest
Franca defeated Jordan by submission (triangle choke) at :47 of round three. Franca, lightweight champion of WEC and AFC, was originally matched with Roger Huerta. However, Huerta withdrew from the card due to injury and was replaced by Joe Jordan. The fight took place at a catchweight of 165 lb, instead of lightweight, as allowances were made for Jordan as a late replacement. This bout was not aired on the broadcast.
Lightweight Bout: Joe Stevenson vs. Yves Edwards
Stevenson defeated Edwards by technical knockout (doctor stoppage due to cuts) at the end of round two.
Heavyweight Bout: Frank Mir vs. Dan Christison
Mir defeated Christison by unanimous decision. The judges each scored the bout 29-28.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock
In the anticipated rematch, Ortiz defeated Shamrock by technical knockout (referee stoppage, due to strikes) at 1:18 of round one. Disappointment surrounded the bout, however, as fans in attendance booed the stoppage by referee Herb Dean when Shamrock stood right up immediately after the stoppage. Shamrock also angrily protested the stoppage and charged toward Ortiz during his "grave digging" celebration before he was restrained. During the post-fight interview, Ortiz mentioned the possibility of having another rematch.
This co-main event, scheduled since the production of The Ultimate Fighter 3, was for a time placed on hold due to Ortiz's knee injury during his last bout, and Ortiz's replacement for a time was Forrest Griffin. It was later discovered that Ortiz had a fractured fibula and not an ACL tear as originally feared, and the fight was back on.
Welterweight Bout: Josh Burkman vs. Josh Neer
In the evening's swing bout, Burkman defeated Neer by unanimous decision. The judges scored the bout 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28.
Heavyweight Championship Bout: Champion Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski
In the main event of the evening, Tim Sylvia successfully defended his championship title and defeated Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision. Arlovski apparently had been hit by a leg kick sometime in the second round which left him unable to kick or make any takedown attempts. After the fight, the injury caused his ankle and knee on his left leg to swell up to about four times its normal size. Sylvia also had injuries after the fight, Sylvia fainted at his hotel room, and upon hospital examination, doctors discovered a concussion undetected after the match. The judges scored the bout 48-47, 49-46 and 48-47. The rematch was reportedly made at the request of Sylvia to prove his victory against Arlovski was not a fluke.