According to various media outlets, Tito Ortiz will make his return to the Octagon at UFC 106 in Las Vegas, Nevada. His opponent will be former UFC heavyweight champion Mark Coleman. No official announcement has been made by the UFC, but expect one in the next few weeks.
Ortiz will fight for the first time in the UFC since a unanimous decision loss to the current UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, at UFC 84 in May of 2008. Since that time, Ortiz has undergone spinal fusion surgery to fix the problems he’s had with his back over the years. He claims his back is healthy, but it’s tough to tell what kind of impact he can make in the UFC’s stacked light heavyweight division.
Ortiz was one of the UFC’s biggest stars in the early part of this decade, winning the light heavyweight title at UFC 25. Then defending it successfully five times in the next two years, before losing the title to Randy Couture at UFC 44. A loss to Chuck Liddell followed, then Ortiz had a five-fight win streak over; Patrick Cote, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin and Ken Shamrock (twice). However, Ortiz lost his rematch with Liddell, had a draw with Rashad Evans and lost to Machida to end his UFC run.
Ortiz chose not to re-sign with the UFC because of problems with UFC president Dana White. He entertained offers from the now defunct Affliction, as well as Strikeforce before he and White mended fences. Upon announcing Ortiz’s return to the UFC, White said:
Tito Ortiz is still a guy the fans want to see fight. He just had back surgery and he’s getting back into training, his back has healed perfectly. The doctor said he feels good and he’s ready to compete in the 205-pound division and get a shot at the title again…Tito Ortiz will retire in the UFC
Coleman is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Stephan Bonnar at UFC 100. He’s 16-9 in his MMA career, and will be nearing his 45th birthday when he fights Ortiz.
An Ortiz victory still leaves his future in the light heavyweight division muddy, but a loss would be devastating. We’ll find out on Nov. 21 how much Tito has left in the tank.