For a very long time, the Huntington Beach Bad Boy was the face of the UFC when very few knew there was a UFC. He was a young, brash, talented fighter who appealed to the "Just Bleed" fan of the era.
After getting beat down by Frank Shamrock at UFC 22 for the middleweight title, Shamrock retired from the sport and gave up his belt. Ortiz went on to win the vacant title at UFC 25 when he defeated Wanderlei Silva by decision.
He defended the belt five times against fighters who really didn't deserve a shot at it while his "friend" and bodyguard Chuck Liddell took out all the fighters who deserved a chance at Ortiz.
Then at UFC 44, Ortiz defended his title against interim title holder Randy Couture. That night, Couture made Ortiz his, well, you know.
Since that defeat, Ortiz has been hellbent on getting "his" belt back. How'd that go? Well, here is a time line of Tito's career since he dropped the UFC light heavyweight championship to Randy Couture in 2003.
Ortiz circa 2004—"This is the year I'm getting my belt back!"
Result—Tito went 1-1. He was knocked out by Chuck Liddell and defeated last minute replacement Patrick Cote by decision
Ortiz circa 2005—"This is the year I'm getting my belt back!"
Result—Tito went 1-0, defeating Vitor Belfort by decision
Ortiz circa 2006—"This is the year I'm getting my belt back!"
Result—Tito went 3-1. He defeated Forrest Griffin by split decision, Ken Shamrock twice by TKO, and lost his chance to get his belt back when he was knocked out by Chuck Liddell again.
Ortiz circa 2007—"I just spent over $2 million buying Oscar de la Hoya's estate in Big Bear. This year I'm getting my belt back"
Result—Tito went 0-0-1 as he fought future light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans to a draw.
Ortiz circa 2008—"Screw you UFC! I'm going to beat up your golden boy Lyoto Machida and leave! Take that!"
Result—Tito went 0-1. He lost a lopsided decision to Lyoto Machida.
Ortiz circa 2009—"Sorry for the way I acted Dana. I'm back for good. This is the year I'm getting my belt back!"
Result—Tito went 0-1, losing a split decision to Forrest Griffin
Ortiz circa 2010—"Ok, I had the back surgery I've been putting off. This is the year I'm getting my belt back!"
Result—Tito went 0-1, losing to Matt Hamill.
Ortiz circa 2011—"This is it...this is the year I'm getting my belt back!!!"
Result—Not good so far. He just pulled out of his fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, due, according to Dana White's twitter, to stitches. I have a theory on where those stitches are located, but that will stay between myself and Mr. Oswald.
I wonder in the eight years since Ortiz lost "his" belt if he has realized he is never going to win it back? Has the fact that he has gone from headlining pay-per-views to co-main event to headlining Ultimate Fight Night cards have made Tito realize that maybe his act is getting old and people aren't buying in to it anymore?
Perhaps this latest in the laundry list of injuries that Ortiz has had over his career will be the final nail in the coffin. Let us all hope this is true so a fighter like Phil Davis, who actually has the potential to be a threat in the light heavyweight division, can get some of the spotlight that Ortiz loves to hog.
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