Tue Jan 26 11:05pm EST
Nice job by John Morgan. MMAJunkie's lead reporter attended the season 11 "Ultimate Fighter" media day and caught a matter-of-fact statement by Tito Ortiz about Chuck Liddell. Ortiz, who always seems to be in mocking mode, sounded heartfelt when he said he was happy that Liddell beat alcoholism (1:22 mark) to make it back to the UFC.
"I think [Liddell] had a problem," Ortiz said. "A lot of people go through addiction. I think his deal was he was an alcoholic. He loved to party."
Ortiz claims Liddell's ego got the best of him.
"When you have all the money in the world and you can do what you want, no one tells you, 'No.' You're one of the baddest men on the Earth; no one tells you, 'No.' You can do what you want."
"Thank God that (UFC president) Dana (White) gave [Liddell] an intervention, and he's sober now," Ortiz said. "He's been sober since November, and he looks like a different person. It's awesome. I'm proud of him – really proud of him. A lot of people can't do that. I kind of went through that myself, but I looked in the mirror and I realized that wasn't the life I wanted to lead.
Liddell avoided rock bottom and a disasterous outcome.
"I'm proud he's found sobriety. A lot of fighters, and a lot of people in general, don't do that. They fall off the face of the earth, and sometimes they'll find them in a hotel, dead, or behind a wheel, dead. Thank God Chuck isn't one of those guys. Thank God he found sobriety, and I'm proud of him – very proud of him."
Ortiz made sure to ruin his well-wishing with a silly quip.
"When my friend see him out at night, I'll tell them to buy him a drink," laughed Ortiz.
Ortiz followed Liddell during the media session, so Liddell did not have a chance to respond to Tito's claims. Yahoo! Sports reached out to Liddell after the session, but he declined the opportunity to comment.
Did this really happen? One of the sport's biggest stars, Liddell, was an alcoholic? Or is this another Ortiz ploy to anger, embarrass and punk Liddell? It's tough to completely ignore the claims because Liddell has had some shaky public incidents in the past including his 2007 Dallas television appearance. Yet Tito is often the sport's biggest buffoon.
If there was an intervention because Liddell had a drinking problem, the UFC needs to follow the path set forth by Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers. Cabrera had a problem, got help and came clean in early January. Liddell needing an intervention and beating alcoholism, is nothing to be ashamed of or hide.
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