It’s TUF 3 all over again for me. Just like in the 3rd season of The Ultimate Fighter, it took Tito Ortiz less than a single episode to remind me why I like him. Not only is he a great coach, he is a step above and beyond any coach TUF has ever had. The Ultimate Fighter has had its good coaches, like Minotauro Nogueira and recently Rashad Evans, and its awful ones, like Ken Shamrock and Rampage Jackson. But what separates him from the rest of the pack is his sincere dedication to making each and every fighter on his team better.
Many past TUF coaches succeeded on the show and won the vast majority of their fights, but seemed interested only in helping the most skilled fighters on their team. Matt Hughes is a perfect example of this. On TUF 2, Hughes overtly said that Mike Whitehead and Joe Stevenson were his go-to guys, and focused all his attention on them. Meanwhile, Jason von Flue, even after his stunning upset of Jorge Gurgel, gained no respect from Hughes, who even said he didn’t mind von Flue switching teams.
In this second episode of TUF 11, Tito Ortiz does exactly the opposite of that. In the first preliminary fight of the season, green-and-black-haired Clayton McKinney suffers a first round submission loss to Kyle Noke, and is visible upset, even running out of the cage alone. Ortiz pleads him, never even raising his voice, for two minutes of his time. He them proceeds to show him how to escape a triangle choke, and even helps McKinney drill with it. Then, he lets his fighter go mope. Instead of complaining about his fighter’s mistakes, or god forbid not even enter the cage to console him (see Jackson, Rampage), Tito continues to help his fighter improve, regardless of performance. That’s the type of dedication that not a lot of coaches have.
I do admit Tito Ortiz is one of the cockiest trash talkers and sorest losers in the sport, but I cannot question his willingness and desire to helping his fighters improve. In addition, his methodology in which he does that is perfect. In practice, he is a tough love coach who pushes his fighters to the limit, doesn't put up with excuses, and no matter what, wants to help them become better fighters. Tito Ortiz may be a washed up fighter and dimwit commentator, but he still earns my respect as the best coach TUF has ever had. The members of Team Punishment should be honored to have him.