BEHIND THE SCENES MMA ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
The Story of Tito Ortiz
By Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester
Many new fans of the UFC only know Tito Ortiz as the washed up underdog from recent years. But fans that have been with the sport for several years know that Tito Ortiz deserves to go down in history as being once of the faces of the UFC – during a time when it needed the stardom and the charismatic characteristics that Ortiz possessed.
During the years that the sport of mixed martial arts was widely considered to be barbaric and unlawful, Tito Ortiz rose to the top with his brash personality and his willingness to put it all on the line inside the Octagon. From simple and yet crude fighting trunks that said, “I Just Fucked Your Ass” Tito Ortiz became a colorful character that while it may have appeared villainous to many, it was also this sort of antagonism that made him so popular with the fans.
His feud with Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den became one of the first big feuds in the sport. His second fight with Guy Mezger at UFC 19 would spark the fire that would create the animosity between Ortiz and the Lion’s Den. His T-shirt “Gay Mezger Is My Bitch” started it all.
While he would lose to Ken Shamrock’s adopted brother Frank Shamrock, the Tito Ortiz that returned after the loss became the Ortiz of his prime. He went on to defeat Wanderlei Silva and became the UFC Light-Heavyweight champion. He would defend the title five times after that, reigning from April 14, 2000 to September 26. 2003.
Although he had successfully defeated the likes of Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner, Elvis Sinosic, and Vladamir Matyushenko – the biggest draw for the UFC was his long awaited matchup with Ken Shamrock. It took three rounds to stop the old lion, but it placed Tito Ortiz at the top of his game and he was more popular than ever.
What came next was a contract dispute that would keep Tito Ortiz out of action for a year. General consensus agrees that the contract dispute was over the fact that Ortiz was ducking training partner and “friend” Chuck Liddell, and while words were exchanged and the rivalry was being built, it was Randy Couture who would be the man to cease Ortiz’s reign as the Light-Heavyweight champion. Ortiz and Liddell’s fight would come, and Liddell would dominate Ortiz on his way to a second round knockout.
Ortiz would go on after that loss and defeat Patrick Cote, Vitor Belfort, and Ken Shamrock two more times by TKO. These wins put him back in title contention, but the man standing in his way was his old friend and rival Chuck Liddell again. Very few believed Ortiz had a shot, and at the record setting UFC 66, Liddell proved that he didn’t, defeating him in the third round by TKO.
Since 2006, Tito Ortiz has gone 1-6-1. With his feuds with Dana White and his bad back, many things plagued Ortiz over the last 6 years. Many fans will never forget the prime of Tito Ortiz where he was infamous for his grave digging routine after he would win his fights. While fans may not have thought Ortiz could pull off victories like his earlier days, they still crossed their fingers hoping that he could return to form. On July 2, 2011 fans were treated to that moment that everyone had been waiting for. Against Ryan Bader, Ortiz was able to submit the younger and durable fighter in the first round by guillotine choke. Comeback chants were found all over the Internet.
It was not meant to be though as former UFC Light-Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans put an end to that that comeback rally. Another loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira would all but put a stamp on Tito’s career. In the last fight of his contract, Ortiz will fight Forrest Griffin for the third time and it will be his last fight as he said he will retire after UFC 148 on July 7th.
With a looming induction in the UFC Hall Of Fame (the same weekend), Jacob Christopher Ortiz has had a storied career. With ups and downs, and memorable moments, Ortiz may be considered one of the best Light-Heavyweights in history. While the tail end of his career may be the polar opposite of what started out as a bright career, Ortiz will go down in history as one of the pioneers of the new generation of UFC and mixed martial arts fans. He still holds a notable achievement as the only Light-Heavyweight to defend the belt successfully and consecutively five times. Whether he wins or losses against Forrest Griffin at UFC 148, Tito Ortiz still undeniably deserves his entry into the UFC Hall Of Fame.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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