Ortiz was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame earlier on Saturday, but he didn't have the gas to make the kind of storybook finish he wanted.
He was outpunched, outkicked and outworked by Griffin before a packed house at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, winning a unanimous decision in Ortiz's final fight.
Griffin left the ring as soon as the fight ended, hoping to leave the spotlight on Ortiz. UFC officials grabbed him and forced him to return, and the quirky Griffin then took the microphone from broadcaster Joe Rogan and interviewed Ortiz.
"I've been doing this for 15 years and I paved the way for the fighters in the future," Ortiz told Griffin in the cage.
Ortiz seemed to gas early in the fight and that was the difference. Griffin was knocked down by Ortiz to start the second round and admitted he was buzzed, but he kept up a high volume of kicks and punches and that was the difference.
It was the third fight in their personal series, with Griffin winning the last two. The crowd, rooting hard for Ortiz on his Hall of Fame induction day, booed the decision.
"I felt we had three draws, to be honest," Griffin said.
Another veteran of the sport had a better outcome.
Cung Le accomplished a tremendous amount in his lengthy martial arts career, but he got the one thing Saturday that had been eluding him: A win in the UFC. Le used his kicks and his lateral movement to score a clear unanimous decision victory over Patrick Cote in a middleweight bout.
The kick-boxing sensation and former Strikeforce champion poured his heart out in order to get that first UFC win.
"I feel great, a little tired," Le said. "I wanted to do a back flip, but I had no energy, He came and pushed it. He has such a hard head. I hurt my foot on it."
Le, now 40, said he would think about whether to retire.
"I'm an adrenaline junkie," Le said. "I'm not sure I can give it up yet."
Demian Maia's welterweight debut was a quick one. He put Dong Hyun-Kim down with a hip toss which seemed to injured one of Kim's ribs. Maia went to the ground with him and finished it quickly, forcing referee Mario Yamasaki to stop it at just 47 seconds.
Kim laid on his back for several minutes, in obvious agony, as doctors treated him.
"It means a lot to win like this because I was having some problems in my camp," Maia said. "I was trying to bring my jiu-jitsu back, so I did it my whole camp and concentrated on takedowns. That's what took me to this point and helped me win tonight.
"It was a great test for me as he had just one loss. It was a great challenge. I'm very happy and I just want to fight again."
Cody McKenzie is a guillotine specialist, but he barely got a chance to work up a sweat in his fight with Chad Mendes. Mendes hit McKenzie with a right hand to the midsection which doubled the lanky McKenzie over in pain.
Mendes wasted little time getting on McKenzie and finishing him with a series of hammerfists. Referee Steve Mazzagatti stopped it at 31 seconds of the first.
"It's very rewarding to go through a long and hard training camp with the best fighters in the world and to get in the Octagon and get it done fast like that," Mendes said. "I had seen what he had done in past fights and I was prepared."
Mike Easton opened the main card with a lacklustre win over Ivan Menjivar that left the crowd booing. Most of the fight was spent standing and Easton got the better of that, neutralizing Menjivar's jiu-jitsu.
There were few significant strikes, though, and neither man seemed willing to take any risks.
"It feels good," Easton said. "I'm very happy for the win. Ivan is an incredible fighter. Usually when I throw my power it offsets everything and I think my strategy helped me come away with the win tonight."