UFC 148: The Greatest Hits of Tito Ortiz
For one of the longest running fighters in UFC history, it’s all coming to a close on July 7, 2012.
Ortiz began his career with the company on May 30, 1997, fighting for free at UFC 13.
In his long career, Ortiz has seen incredible heights of fame and success and all the lows that can be weighed in the balance, and through it all he has remained one of the biggest draws the company has.
Let’s look at some of the greatest hits of the Huntington Beach Bad Boy, Tito Ortiz.
Tito Ortiz vs. Guy Mezger II
If there was one thing you could see in Tito Ortiz, right out of the gate, it was that he loved to fight.
When he dominated Guy Mezger in their rematch at UFC 19, he was in his element, taking Mezger down almost at will and pounding him with punches to the head.
Their first fight had ended in controversy, and their second fight would as well, but not for the same reasons.
When Big John McCarthy finally stopped the bout and saved Mezger from taking anymore needless punishment, Ortiz decided to celebrate in typical Ortiz fashion: He donned a custom made t-shirt that spoke directly to Guy Mezger.
It said: “Gay Mezger is my bitch.”
Ken Shamrock came unglued, both men had to be separated and Ortiz was all smiles.
He had the spotlight, and he wouldn’t let it go for some time.
Tito Ortiz vs. Wanderlei Silva
After having lost his first bid for the UFC middleweight title, Ortiz got a second chance when Frank Shamrock retired from the company.
Ortiz stepped into the Octagon against the always-dangerous Wanderlei Silva.
While it might not have been the most exciting fight in title contention history, it still had its moments.
Both fighters were dropped by the other, and both enjoyed moments of success. But Ortiz managed to do what he normally does—get the takedown and maintain top position while grounding and pounding from within the guard.
It wasn’t pretty, and was in truth sometimes ugly, but he got the title by beating one of the most dangerous fighters in the world at that time.
Tito Ortiz vs. Evan Tanner
Ortiz after KO'ing Tanner / fcfighter.com
Ortiz was riding high atop the light heavyweight division with his first successful title defense against Yuki Kondo, and when he stepped into the cage against Tanner, the intensity seemed to roll off him like steam.
In short, he was a wrecking machine—and he knew it—and Tanner was about to find out all about that.
The fight didn’t last long. A hard-snapping leg kick by each fighter, a bull-rush by Ortiz, a body-lock secured, and then Tanner was airborne.
Ortiz slammed Tanner down hard to the mat, KO’ing him in a way very reminiscent of Frank Shamrock defeating Igor Zinoviev.
And Ortiz was looking every bit as dangerous and dominant in his title reign as Shamrock had looked in his.
Title fights weren’t supposed to pass so quickly, but Tito made it look easy, which is no small thing considering how good Tanner really was.
Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock I
What started at UFC 19 would finally see realization at UFC 40, as Ken Shamrock stepped into the Octagon to face Tito Ortiz.
It was old school vs. new school, and many watching were hoping Shamrock would prove to be the teacher needed to put The Huntington Beach Bad Boy in his place.
It simply was not to be.
Pride and a long memory may have been the things that pulled Shamrock, age 39, into the cage against the younger, stronger Ortiz, but it was heart that kept him there.
For 15 minutes, Ortiz put a beating on the elder statesman of the sport, taking him down at will and raining down punches and elbows into his face and head.
Still, Shamrock continued to surprise everyone, getting out of bad positions and making it back to his feet, where the beating would continue.
Shamrock had a moment, though, as he threw a short right while leaning against the cage. It was enough to drop Ortiz to a knee, but Shamrock didn’t have the mobility needed to turn the moment into something bigger.
In the end, the fight was stopped after three brutal rounds, and Ortiz had made his fifth successful defense of his title, in what was the biggest event for the Zuffa-owned UFC.
This may very well have been the greatest night of Ortiz’s career.
Tito Ortiz vs. Vitor Belfort
They were first set to fight at UFC 36, but injuries made that impossible.
When they fought at UFC 51, we saw that while the title was no longer on the line, neither man had lost any of his intensity.
This was a very good fight that saw both men hurt and bounce back. They fought standing up and on the ground in a very close contest that really could have gone either way.
In the end, the judges awarded the decision to Ortiz, no doubt in part due to his ability to take Belfort down to the mat and maintain top control in key moments of the fight.
This fight proved that Tito could still dig deep and come up with the victory when the going got tough.
Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin I
The career of Tito Ortiz has seen him paired against almost every kind of fighter and personality known to the game, and when he fought Forrest Griffin for the first time, he was now facing a man who had captured the hearts of the fans in a way he never could.
Perhaps that’s the reason he went after Griffin like he did, taking him down and mauling him with elbows and punches in the first round, leaving him a bloody mess.
But Griffin proved he wasn’t just an empty shirt. As the fight continued, he had more and more success at stuffing those takedowns, and on the feet he was able to put his fist to Ortiz’s face on more than one occasion.
This was a thrilling fight for all the right reasons, and when Ortiz won the split decision, it began what will be a fitting trilogy to cap off a great career.
At UFC 148, when these two men square off for the final time, given how these men are polar opposites of each other, it really will be the picture perfect ending.
TUF Season 3: Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock II
When it came time to pick the coaches for the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, the lure of a true bad blood matchup seemed like a natural way to keep the momentum of the show going.
And when bad blood was the selling point, who better than Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock? After all, the first time around between these two men had given the company the success it needed to keep on throwing money into the hole.
They coached opposite each other, fanning the flames of their mutual dislike, and after the show, their fight drew high numbers on the UFC 61 card.
Once again, Ortiz took the victory, battering an older, overmatched version of the MMA pioneer, stopping Shamrock early in the first round.
Ortiz had looked like the white hat for most of the filming of the show, and he looked better than ever as he took out his hated rival in the cage.
Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader
With his back against the wall and a pink slip waiting to be delivered, Ortiz stepped into the Octagon against what looked to be a better version of himself.
Bader had wrestling that was just as good as Ortiz, perhaps even better, and he had proven knockout power.
Smart money was on the younger lion, especially as Bader was trying to bounce back from a loss to Jon Jones.
Tito came out with an intensity we had forgotten he had, and he traded blows with Bader, sending him crashing to the canvas with a short punch right on the button.
Ortiz pounced, attacking with punches before Bader dived forward in desperation for a takedown.
Ortiz secured a tight guillotine choke, squeezed with all his might and Bader tapped out.
It was the one shinning moment in a long downhill slide of a once great career, and even though it was his only victory in many years, Ortiz thrilled the crowd and breathed new life into his career.
He hasn’t won a fight since that night, but in defeating Ryan Bader, he showed the world he is most dangerous when his back is against the wall.
Will he prove it again against Forrest Griffin at UFC 148?
Either way, Ortiz has been one of the most compelling fighters the company has ever had, and he will be sorely missed.