There is a lot on the line for former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz Saturday night at UFC 132. He'll face Ryan Bader in a bout that is do or die for the UFC superstar.
Ortiz, who hasn't won a fight since 2006, had to beg UFC brass for another chance after losing to Matt Hamill at UFC 121. He got his wish and now he'll face 12-1 Ryan Bader who's fresh off a title shot eliminator bout with current champ Jon Jones.
Ortiz spoke to MMA Junkie about the imminent end of his fighting career:
"I think Saturday night will tell everything," he said. "My goals, I think I've achieved everything under the sun in mixed martial arts. I've done things many things people have never seen. I'm thankful for it.
"It sucked watching Chuck go out the way he did," Ortiz said. "We had our bad blood toward each other, but before this company got big - before this business got big - Chuck and I were friends. We're the first Team Punishment members. To see him go out the way he did, it sucked.
"Seeing Randy go out the way he did, it was heartfelt. I always looked to Randy as a sort of role model in my life. I'm doing the best I can do to be like Randy. To see him go out the way he did, it sucked."
For his part Bader talked to Dave Meltzer:
"I'm training for the best Tito Ortiz there's ever been," he said. "It [expletive] me off. People will say to me you don't need to train, you've got it in the bag. He's a competitive guy. He's been in all those fights [when Ortiz gets into the Octagon, it will be his 24th UFC fight, tying a record held by Matt Hughes and the now-retired Couture]. His back is against the wall and he's trying to take me out. He's not going to roll over for me, or for anyone. I don't think this is an easy fight at all."
If you want to brush up on your Tito Ortiz history, I highly recommend Sergio Hernandez' series over at MMA Mania:
- Bad Boy for Life: The rise and fall of Tito Ortiz (Part one)
- History in the Making: Tito Ortiz takes on Frank Shamrock in their old school UFC classic
- Bad Boy for Life: The rise and fall of Tito Ortiz (Part two)
It's easy for modern fans to dismiss Tito Ortiz, but there was a long, dark period in the history of the sport when he was the UFC's biggest star and best fighter. He perfected the ground and pound approach to MMA that Mark Coleman and Mark Kerr introduced and transformed the entire sport with his aggressive approach to weight cutting. More importantly he was always smart and aggressive about marketing his persona and his fights. Fans may have hated Tito Ortiz, but they always wanted to see how he would do.
Best of luck on Saturday champ.