Heading into 2011, things were looking pretty bleak for former Light Heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. He hadn't won a fight since 2006, when he TKO'd an aging Ken Shamrock for the third time. And in October 2010, he lost for the first time to a non-Top Ten fighter in former pupil and TUF 3 winner Matt Hamill. That December, despite granting Ortiz the headlining fight on Ultimate Fight Night 24 against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Dana White openly declared that he had considered cutting Tito from the promotion.
The outlook didn't improve for The Huntington Beach Bad Boy when he took an errant headbutt while sparring and was forced from the bout just a few weeks before the event. Again many were calling for his retirement, as Ortiz had been plagued by injuries throughout the last couple years and didn't look like he could remain competitive or active anymore. Yet, Tito wouldn't be balked and immediately called for a rubber match against Forrest Griffin, who had mocked him on Twitter shortly before the injury was announced. That exchange would come to naught, however, when Tito accepted the challenge of Ryan Bader, who had just lost to Jon Jones at UFC 126.