Tito Ortiz Talks Shlemenko, Fighting Rampage and the UFC Erasing His Legacy

Duane FinleyContributor IMay 12, 2014

There are few fighters who could match the storied career of Tito Ortiz, and "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" is looking to add a few more chapters before it is all said and done.

The former long-reigning king of the UFC's light heavyweight division will be looking to make a fresh start and a major impact in his new home in Bellator when he steps out against current BFC middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko this Saturday night at Bellator 120 in Memphis, Tennessee.

While the 39-year-old was initially set to make his promotional debut last November against fellow former UFC champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, a neck injury forced Ortiz out of the bout and put his first showing under the Bellator banner on hold.

Following his victory over Brennan Ward back in March, "Storm" called out the MMA legend to fight on the card in Memphis, and Ortiz immediately accepted the challenge. Shlemenko will leave the weight class he currently champions to face Ortiz at the 205-pound weight limit, and the matchup will be one of the featured bouts on Bellator's inaugural pay-per-view, which is taking place this weekend.

In the lead-up to the fight, Ortiz spoke with Orange County resident and MMA media staple Rick Lee about his upcoming tilt with Shlemenko, a future bout with Rampage and how he feels the UFC is attempting to erase the legacy he built competing inside the Octagon. 

While Ortiz ended his run under the UFC banner on a tough stretch where he suffered losses and was plagued by injury, there is no doubt he is still one of the most recognizable names in the sport of mixed martial arts. Ortiz won the UFC light heavyweight title and successfully defended the strap on five consecutive occasions, a record that remained intact for over a decade.

As Ortiz lays out in the interview with Lee, he has his eyes locked on ending his run in Bellator with a championship belt around his waist, and his journey to gold will begin this Saturday night at Bellator 120.


Duane Finley is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.