At UFC 148, the most dominant UFC light heavyweight of all time (for now) called it quits after a storied career.
Tito Ortiz, also known as "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" and "The People's Champ," faced Forrest Griffin in a farewell fight which served as the final page of the final chapter in the storybook that was his fantastic career as a mixed martial artist.
As a champion, Ortiz was undeniably dominant.
After winning the belt at UFC 25 against Wanderlei Silva, Ortiz went on to defend his strap five times before losing to Randy Couture more than three years later at UFC 44.
This streak remains the longest of its kind within the light heavyweight division and, while Ortiz did it against weaker opposition than the current UFC light heavyweight division holds, it remains one of the most impressive feats in UFC history.
Despite his dominance, Ortiz was hated by many fans, and his work inside the Octagon meant nothing to those who hated his arrogant demeanor.
After losing battles, Ortiz had a bad habit of blaming his performance on injuries. While these claims oftentimes had merit, fans, myself included, grew tired of the broken record that was Ortiz's line of excuses.
Such character issues make one wonder: Is Ortiz done for real, or is he just in one of his "moods" and feeling like he needs some attention right now?
In this writer's eyes, he is done, and he should be.
While I will admit Ortiz irked me like few other fighters, he seems to have changed his character for the better in his recent fights.
Going into his third and final battle against Griffin, Ortiz seemed focused and determined to end his career on a high note. Gone was the whining brat of past years— this Tito Ortiz was a reborn man and fighter, and I liked it.
In press conferences, Ortiz heard the question several times: "Are you really retiring?"
Each time, he answered with a definitive "Yes!" and said he had a family to take care of and a new career path to follow.
As I have mentioned, Ortiz is not shy about making excuses or deceiving us with his words. Fights he was "in the best shape of his life" for turned into fights in which he "had bulging disks and a cracked hand."
This time though, on the topic of retirement, Ortiz spoke with a sincerity I had not previously detected in his voice. Even recently, when asked if a bout with Chuck Liddell would coax him back into the Octagon, Ortiz plainly said "no" and held firm on his response.
With his recent string of losses and sub-par performances under the UFC banner, I think that is the right decision.
A bout with Liddell is tantalizing, sure, but Ortiz, like he mentioned, has a family to care for. He has a job at ESPN lined up and waiting. He does not need to endanger himself, and he will not.
Ortiz is doing what more fighters need to do: he is getting out on his own terms and pulling the curtain on a storied career before it is sullied.
He would be insane to come back after leaving in such a manner, and I think that Ortiz left us a long time ago.
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