The embattled former light heavyweight champion literally grew up in the UFC, first fighting there at the age of 22; but 15 years worth of fights, 15 years worth of injuries and 15 years worth of scars have led the man they once called “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” to call it a career.
Ortiz started talking about retirement a year ago, but now with one fight left on his current deal, it all seemed like the perfect storm for him to go out and have one last great fight in the UFC and then say goodbye.
Almost every athlete that has talked about retirement admits there is always that little flicker to the flame that could potentially re-ignite their desire to compete again, but for Tito Ortiz he's resigned in his role as fighter for one more fight and then he's happy to just be known as “Dad.”
“I'm settled in it. Training's not as fun as it used to be. The training is tough. Tough on my body, tough on my mind and I've been doing it for 15 years. I've been doing this over and over and over again and I miss a normal life. Where I put my time in, 15 years, almost two decades and I put my time in. I did everything I wanted to do in the UFC and mixed martial arts, and I think I made a difference,” Ortiz said when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio.
“Being a father to my children is something I've always wanted, to be there for them. I always wanted to make sure I had their futures taken care of. Now their future's taken care of, they can pick whichever college they want to go to, now it's time to be a loving father and be there for them and do what my father never did.”
Ortiz grew up for most of his life without his father and he even admits regret when it comes to the time he's missed with his 10-year-old son Jacob, who has grown up for most of his life with his father training for the next battle inside the Octagon.
Now with twin three-year-old sons Jesse and Journey at home along with his longtime girlfriend Jenna Jameson, Ortiz is settled in this decision because being a good parent is more important that any title or any paycheck.
“Now that I don't have to be in training camp three months at time, three times a year, it's a blessing in disguise. I'm very thankful of what I was able to compete in the UFC and what Dana (White) and Lorenzo (Fertitta) have given me and I was able to be a father than my father never was,” said Ortiz.
Now don't take his retirement as a sign that Ortiz will be walking away from MMA or from working in and around the sport. Ortiz meant as much to MMA as MMA means to Ortiz, so he may not be fighting and going through the rigors of a three-month training camp anymore, but mixed martial arts is in his blood.
“Of course I'll always have something to do with mixed martial arts, I'll always thank that for getting me to where I am today,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz's main goal after exiting the UFC will be acting as a good father to his three children, but he will also be keeping busy in other avenues as well. His long running clothing company Punishment Athletics continues to sponsor several fighters in and around the sport of MMA, he started Punishment Nutrition, a supplement company last year, and he's also planning on picking back up on his dream of acting as well.
To hear Tito Ortiz tell it, he's not retiring from mixed martial arts because he's learned so much along the way that he's ready to put all of that to good use in his next career post-UFC.
“It's not that I'm retiring, I'm graduating. I'm graduating with a Masters in promotion and a Masters in marketing,” Ortiz stated. “That's what it comes down to pretty much, with everything I've done over the last 15 years.
“I'm 37 years old and I've still got a bright future, I'm going to do some big things.”
- Tito Ortiz