Tito Ortiz: The King of the T-Shirts

Matt RandallCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2009

The Huntington Beach Bad Boy has lived up to his self-proclaimed nickname, both literally and figuratively.

Literally, he seems to have pissed off as many fighters, fans and UFC personnel as he possibly could have in his MMA career. Granted, Tito has also received one more the biggest following of dedicated fans who will stick behind him no matter what he gets himself into or where he is fighting.

And of course figuratively, he has seemed to slip lately, win, two losses, and a draw in his last three fights dating back to 2006. His highly publicized split with the UFC, due to his ‘rocky’ relationship with Dana White.

So where did the train come off the tracks? Where did the career of the ex-light heavyweight champion go wrong? Tito seemed to be on top of the world, dominating the UFC for a number of years.

He was outspoken, rarely beaten and the champion. Was Tito a ticking time bomb, which was set to self destruct and all of this was just a matter of time?

Instead of quickly jumping to the future, let’s take a (quick) look at Tito’s career, to try and find if this current Tito is only a faze he is going through, a bad couple years, or if this was inevitable from the get go.

Tito made his first appearance in the UFC with a 31-second TKO victory over Wes Albritton, but in the same night he lost to Guy Mezger due to a Guillotine Choke three minutes into the fight.

When Tito returned to UFC 18 he came with a new attitude a new found confidence, or maybe it was already there, but this time he was showing everyone how he felt donning a t-shirt (the first of many) after the win of Jerry Bohlander.

The simple idea of the shirt was only the beginning of another way Tito would let everyone know how he felt of himself and his opponents. “I Just F***ed Your Ass” was printed on the back of the shirt and seemed to go mostly unnoticed by everyone, but that wouldn’t be the case for long.

Tito got his redemption against Guy Mezger at UFC 19, with a TKO just under ten minutes into the fight. Tito sparked controversy with Ken Shamrock, who was the leader of the dominate Lions Den, by displaying a “Guy Mezger Is My Bitch” t-shirt. Ken said he was upset with the lack of respect Tito showed and Tito seemed like he could care less.

Tito lost his next fight to Frank Shamrock, and with some would say a sign of respect Tito had Frank sign the shirt he was wearing with Frank’s picture on it. After this fight Tito came back stronger than ever, winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Title, beating Wandy in decision. Tito then defended the title five times.

The last title defense was against Ken Shamrock, a highly anticipated bout, which was accompanied by mass amounts of trash talk from both sides. Tito won, by TKO due to corner stoppage and immediately tossed on another t-shirt, and in my opinion the funniest one Tito has come up with, “I Killed Kenny, You Bastard!”.

Ortiz, then lost the belt in his text title defense against Randy Couture, who had dropped down from heavyweight for the fight claiming Tito was ducking Chuck Liddell. More words were exchange but this time Tito was not the victor.

Tito had lost everything he had worked for and seemed like he was at a crossroads. Tito then lost to Chuck dude to KO in the second round, the first time Tito had lost back to back in his career. He then bounced back with victories over Patrick Cote, Vitor Belfort and a close split decision over Forrest Griffin.

Then came Ken against, Tito beat Ken at UFC 61 in the first round and it seemed like the feud was over. Tito’s shirt didn’t disrespect Ken or the Lions Den, just a simple statement, “I’m You Fight Tito You Loose!”

It looked like the long time feud had finally come to the end of the road. Then, due to some brilliant marketing, Dana White announce that Tito and Ken would be the coaches on the Ultimate Fighter.

During the taping of the show, Tito seemed to be the better coach and Ken seemed to be more concerned about Tito. There were many words exchanged, some pushing and shoving and some of the work trash talk I have ever heard.

After the conclusion of TUF, Tito again beat Ken in the first round and again in dominating fashion. A “Punishing Him into Retirement” shirt was worn, the grave was dug. Tito had won five straight and seemed to be on the road back to the title.

Tito then lost to Chuck via a TKO in the third round, had a draw with Rashad Evans and lost to the UFC’s best kept secret (or worst), Lyoto Machida. During all of these fights seemed to be the downfall of Tito, his already rocky relationship with Dana seemed to be getting worse every event and eventually resulted in his departure from the UFC.

Let’s no forget the shirt Tito wore to the weigh-ins at UFC 84, “Dana Is My Bitch”, at least Bruce Buffer seemed to have a good chuckle.

So what does this mean for Tito Ortiz? Will he go to Affliction? Will he return to the UFC? He has said he will continue to fight for several years and the rumors have already surface about a return to the UFC to fight the Croatian Sensation Mirko Cro-Cop.

I am not sure if this is Dana White’s idea to get Cro-Cop a much needed return to the UFC or to get Tito knocked out from a kick to head.

Or if Tito wants to prove to the world that he is back and stronger than ever. He has stated that his back, after surgery, is in perfect health and he is ready to go back to his old dominating ways.

But I’m not sure if this is the way to go about it. Sure Cro-Cop hasn’t looked good in the octagon yet, but is his Tito biting of more than he can chew? Maybe a smarter fight would be Tito vs Chuck III, since Chuck hasn’t looked great either. But Chuck is tied up with his fight again Shogun, who also hasn’t looked great lately.

Maybe Tito should fight the loser or possibly the winner, but I don’t think Dana will put him back into belt contention quite yet and I don’t think Tito deserves it.

Either way if Tito does come back, he needs to win, win in such a fashion that these questions around his name will be silenced and too be honest, I don’t see it happening.

Tito hasn’t looked good in some time, probably since the Ken fight, but Ken was old, past his prime. So I don’t know where Tito can go from here.

Jumping up to heavyweight makes no sense to me, they are just getting bigger and stronger and even if he does beat Cro-Cop, who would he fight next? If he stays at light heavyweight, I don’t see him beating Forrest again, or Lyoto or Rashad.

Maybe a fight against Rich Frankin, but even that I would see as a difficult fight from him. Everyone seems to be getting better and better and unfortunately for Tito he does not.

I do feel that Tito’s days in the UFC are not done, but they are numbered. I don’t think he will ever be back in fight for the title. At least Tito did give us some excellent years of fighting. He has never been silenced and for that I thank him, whether agree with him or not, Tito has spoken his mind and stood behind what he says.

He may not be the king of the octagon, but he sure is the king of the t-shirts.


*I do apologize for the length of this article.