Tito Ortiz Believes He Would Rule over Current LHW Division in His Prime

Jordy McElroy@https://twitter.com/JordyMcElroyCorrespondent IJune 15, 2012

Tito Ortiz - Esther Lin/AllElbows.com
Tito Ortiz - Esther Lin/AllElbows.com

Jon Jones may be the current UFC champion and future all-time great, but Tito Ortiz still holds the record as the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history.

Sure, Ortiz is light years from being the fighter he once was, but some tend to forget just how dominant "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" was back in the days.

In an interview with "Fighters Only," the former UFC champion reminisced about his glory days and the plethora of injuries that shortened his time on top.

"Me around 2000, when I was fast and I was strong and my confidence was through the roof, I could beat anyone. I could've beat anyone in the world man. Now, 15 years later, look at me. I'm still competing against top guys in the world —like I always have done —but the injuries have taken their toll."

Reoccurring back issues have plagued Ortiz throughout the latter part of his career. He credits his training camp for Randy Couture back in 2003 as the beginning of his injury problems.

According to Ortiz, the injuries led to a slippery slope that he was never able to fully recover from.

In his last eight bouts, Ortiz is 1-6-1. As the clichéd saying goes, "You're only as good as your last fight."

Most fans simply weren't around long enough to remember Ortiz's elongated dominance over the light heavyweight division. Some will point to a lack of quality opposition, but like so many other all-time greats, Ortiz didn't have any control over who he fought.

He fought whoever the UFC put in front of him.

Jon Jones is two title defenses away from tying Tito Ortiz's UFC record for most successful light heavyweight title defenses (Esther Lin/MMAFighting)
Jon Jones is two title defenses away from tying Tito Ortiz's UFC record for most successful light heavyweight title defenses (Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

Now, there's a new kid on the block, and his name is Jonny "Bones" Jones. The UFC light heavyweight division has never been more crowded with talent than it is now. Even so, Jones has made numerous world class fighters look like amateurs.

How would a prime Ortiz fare against Jones?

"The People's Champ" weighs in:

"Pressure. Don't let him use that reach, try to close down the space with tons of pressure. Use my strength, use my wrestling. An injury free Tito Ortiz is very, very dangerous, and Ryan Bader was the last guy who got a close up of that one. When I'm injury free, I'm very dangerous.

If I was the same guy, but without the surgeries, then I'd still be the champion. When I look back at my loss to [Randy] Couture, that's when I had my first back problem. I was suffering right through that fight camp, and I suffered for seven years with that back problem."

People can say a lot about Ortiz, but they can never question his heart. Despite being 37-years-old and well past his prime, Ortiz still competes against world-class fighters on a consistent basis.

He isn't turning down fights or seeking any give-me bouts. The injuries may have taken a toll on his fighting career, but they have never hampered Ortiz's undying belief in himself.

"After the [Lyoto] Machida fight, I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't eat any more pain killers, so I ended up getting the surgery, and despite operations like the ones I've had on my back and my neck, I'm still competing at the top.

The secret is always staying positive, and everybody in every aspect of life can learn from that. You just have to tell yourself that you can do it, get through and you can —I've proved it."