In the lead up to their first fight some twelve years ago, Ken Shamrock promised to beat then light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz “into the living death” at a pre-fight press conference. It was a confusing, horrendously-delivered threat that not only drew an uproarious reaction from Ortiz, but set the precedent for such future Ken quotes as “You got kicked. By a kick.” and “I am very confident this fight can go either way.”
Over a decade later, it appears that Shamrock has finally made good on that promise, albeit through a far more convoluted means than actually beating Ortiz in a fight. We all know that a neck injury forced Ortiz out of his fight with Rampage Jackson last October, leading to the cancellation of Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view in the process, but according to Bjorn Rebney, there’s a possibility that we will never see Ortiz step foot in the cage again. Again. As he told MMAWeekly:
When I initially got on the phone with the doctors, and Tito announced to us that he had fractured his neck, that was and is the primary concern. There’s not a substantive answer at this point to whether he’s going to come back.
We’re having discussions with him. The key was to get 120-percent healed. It’s an unsettling conversation to have a specialist in the field of neck injuries to tell you that with the right kind of drop on the head, or the right kind of impact on the spine, paralysis could be a result. That’s never a good conversation: A) for a world class althete, but B) it’s never a good conversation for the person in my position charged with putting that person inside of a cage to fight against top tier competition.
At this point, you kind of have to feel bad for Ortiz, don’t you? All the poor bastard wanted was one (delusional) last shot at a (Bellator) glory, and now he’s worse for the wear than he’s arguably ever been in his career. If this isn’t a sign that he should have stayed retired and never married a porn star, I don’t know what is.
But what does this mean in regards to the likely substantial contract Ortiz signed with Bellator, who have never exactly been keen on letting an employee go quietly into that good night?
If a fighter becomes injured, or is unable to compete, it’s what’s called tolling. The contract basically stops until such time as the fighter can compete. And when the fighter can compete and is 100-percent cleared then everything reignites and starts up again. It’s almost like time stops as the fighter recuperates from an injury or gets to a position to where he can compete again.
Tito and I have got to sit down, work through it, talk about it, and if he is going to get back inside the cage, which is a distinct possibility, figure out what the best launch pad is and how he’d want to do that and what makes sense.
Translation: “We should have never signed this injury-prone dinosaur to begin with, but now that we’ve thoroughly fucked ourselves, at least we have him on lockdown until the day he dies (a.k.a the Ric Flair Clause).”
Tito, I say this out of respect and general concern for your well-being: Do not step back into the cage. You have nothing left to prove, and will only be knocking additional years off of your life if you do. You have children to think about, for Christ’s sake. But if you really need the money, well, I hear Call a Champ is the future for former UFC champions looking to make a quick buck.