Reassessing My Opinion of the UFC's Original "Bad Boy"

Nate DoubleAnalyst IAugust 11, 2009

I wouldn't classify myself as a Tito Ortiz hater but for a long time I was as close as one can come to being one.

I've never been a fan of loud mouth hype machines of Ortiz's ilk and I consider his record to be padded by his three wins over a washed up Ken Shamrock. However I'm starting to, it pains me to say this, reassess my stance on Ortiz.

Part of my re-evaluation started when Ortiz spoke very frankly about the injury to his back and how he had been training and fighting through pain for years. At first I discounted it as excuse-making and lip service, but then I did a little research on the surgery he underwent and started to change my mind.

Last October Ortiz underwent surgery to repair the bulging disc between the L4 and L5 and S1 lumbar segments of his spine.

Without getting too technical with medical jargon, a bulging disc is essential a fibrous disc of connective tissue running between your spinal vertebrate that is responsible for flexibility, rotation, as well as providing shock absorption. All very important functions in MMA.

The location of his bulging disc is fairly common, counting for 85 percent of disc injuries.  A bulging disc at that location limits not only flexibility and motion in the back but also in the legs. Strong, fully functioning legs are also fairly important in MMA too.

The pain commonly associated with this injury is described as and I quote, "sharp, stabbing and radiating" and is onset by "physical activity, especially lifting, bending, sitting and exercises that increase intra-abdominal pressure", all motions typically associated with not only fighting but training for MMA.

According to Ortiz he dealt with this sharp, stabbing, radiating pain over the course of his last eight fights, including the training camps in between.

Ortiz now claims to be pain free, even going through an intense jiu-jitsu session prior to jumping on a plane from California to Philadelphia to attend UFC 101 and departed the plane pain free.

While I'm not ready to anoint Ortiz an imminent contender in the UFC's stacked light heavyweight division I am reassessing the dynamic he brings to the division.

He is, without a doubt a PPV draw.  Also looking back on his fight with Lyoto Machida, Ortiz fared better than both Thaigo Silva and former champion Rashad Evans. After seeing Machida's dismantling of those two fighters, Ortiz's performance could be qualified as impressive.

As I close the article I intend to remove the statement on my Bleacher Report profile about "taking to task MMA fans that believe Tito Ortiz is still relevant" and I'll remain cautiously optimistic that Ortiz is in-fact the reinvigorated wrecking machine he claims to be.