Mon Oct 18 06:05pm EDT
Who's buying stock in the revitalized, healthy Tito Ortiz? It doesn't look like the UFC is just yet. Sure, he's on the card this week in Anaheim but he's not being heavily promoted. But can you blame the promotion for being cautious?
The UFC can't afford to promote another main event where Ortiz gasses and then claims he wasn't healthy for the fight.
Ortiz is saying all the same things he said before that less than pleasing battle against Forrest Griffin. From Sergio Non of USA Today:
[Ortiz said:] "I feel great, man. I haven't felt like this in a long time. It's been a good six, seven years since I felt the way I do now. The last time I felt like this was when I had my world title. [...]
"What I'm able to do now is wrestle every single day. We wrestle five days a week. [...] You're going to see at the weigh-ins how good of a shape I'm in. My weight's about 220 right now. Usually it's about 215, 212, so I'm able to really stay in great shape, and do the wrestling, and do the squats and lunges, and stuff that I couldn't do before because of my lower back. [...] Able to put weight on my shoulders and to press and to push and to push my weight forward."
Sergio Non wisely said, but we've heard this before. Why should we believe Tito this time?
[Said Ortiz:] "I told myself I would never take a fight like I did last year ever again. I promised myself I'd never do that, because I never want to give a guy an opportunity to beat me again."
Sold yet? This sounds too similar to the prefight banter before the Griffin match. He lost that one and then said he fought with major injuries and even had a scary incident of temporary paralysis during the training camp.
"I've got to kind of take care of my family. I didn't fight for 18 months, so bills had to be paid, so I had to fight," said Ortiz. "I got through a physical for the UFC and I fought with a fractured orbital bone and a ruptured disc in my neck. I took the fight anyways. I probably shouldn't have been doing it. I'm a great actor, thank God."
There's a lot on the line in this fight. The UFC is paying Ortiz pretty big money. How does it promote a former light heavyweight champ if he's not even competitive against a guy outside the top 10 in the weight class? Ortiz isn't worried and even talked about having five years left in his career.
"Over the last two years, just the challenges I've gone through, people would fold. Guys would quit. Guys would say, 'I'm done. That's it. I'm out." I'm not that type of person. I want to make sure these next five years I get the most out of it."
Let's hope he's healthy and most of the way back to his form of his 20s. A legitimately promotable Ortiz is good for the sport.
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