Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz is fighting Ryan Bader on the UFC 132 pay-per-view card. He’d been expected to headline UFC Fight Night 24 against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in March but had to pull out of that bout due to a cut that required 22 stitches. He last fought in a losing effort against Matt Hamill at UFC 121 last October.
Ortiz hasn’t won a bout since beating Ken Shamrock twice in 2006. He’s 0-4-1 in his last five fights. Tito told the Telegraph (UK) that UFC officials wanted him to retire after UFC 121:
“Dana White and Joe Silva [the UFC’s matchmaker] told me they wanted me to retire, but I knew I still had the fight inside me. I pretty much begged for my job, to show how much I want to fight, but I still have it in my heart to compete, to fight. I told them I want to still fight against the top guys, I want to put on a show. I’ve just turned 36, but when they put me against the top guys, I think I can still compete. Too bad people don’t pay attention to the major details. I’ve competed against the top guys and gone on to win world championships. I’m not getting submitted or knocked out…I’m making little mistakes where I should be submitting guys. I thought I beat Forrest Griffin 2 to 1 the second time. But it was what it was. I made some mistakes against Hamill. I didn’t respect his takedown. The UFC called me after that fight and said ‘we want you to retire.’ I was shocked, I thought they were kidding around. I took it as they didn’t want to pay me, to give me what I’m worth. I’m competing against the top guys and I’m not getting dominated. So, next month, I’ll be fighting one of the top guys in the world again, ranked in the top 3, and I’m going to show how much I’m really worth.”
Here’s UFC President Dana White talking about Tito after UFC 129:
Luke Thomas had some thoughts on Tito:
The problem Ortiz faces is not that his injury is illegitimate. It’s that at 35, when he’s not losing fights in the UFC, he’s withdrawing from them before they ever happen. He is barely able to make it through a fight camp.
Ortiz has a noted history of complaining about injuries that impacted his performance post-fight, particularly after losses. Most recently, he claimed he had a fractured skull after his rematch loss to Forrest Griffin, an injury which Nevada State Athletic Commission director Keith Kizer was unable to verify.
Ortiz is struggling to fight off a reality where he has no relevance, but the quicksand is moving. He’a also so physically ground up from years at the MMA salt mines he’s apparently only willing to enter fights with near perfect health – a concept that he should know is both unrealistic and fatuous. Either you are capable of training and competing at this level or you are not. Waiting for the sweet spot of career turnarounds to find it’s way to you at 35, particularly after neck and back surgeries and multiple concussions, is the very definition of grasping at straws.
It’s pretty darn hard to remember that Tito Ortiz was once the biggest star and most dominant champion in the UFC. I understand him wanting to win another fight or two, but I have a hard time imagining any scenario where he adds to his legacy inside the Octagon.
HT MMA Mania
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