It’s amazing that with the UFC’s longtime policy of cutting fighters who lose three fights in a row, that Tito Ortiz, who is 0-3-1 in his past four fights hasn’t been fired yet. One would assume that “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” was being kept around because of his past merits and pay-per-view sales, but apparently his job isn’t as secure as we assumed.
According to Ortiz, the UFC was ready to let him go after his UFC 121 loss to Matt Hamill, but instead urged the former UFC light heavyweight champion to follow in the footsteps of longtime nemesis Chuck Liddell and retire to save them the trouble of sending him to the unemployment line. Tito says he basically begged Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta for one more kick at the cat and they begrudgingly agreed, throwing him in against a young lion in Ryan Bader at UFC 132.
“Dana White and Joe Silva [the UFC's matchmaker] told me they wanted me to retire, but I knew I still had the fight inside me. I pretty much begged for my job, to show how much I want to fight, but I still have it in my heart to compete, to fight,” he told the UK Telegraph. I told them I want to still fight against the top guys, I want to put on a show. I’ve just turned 36, but when they put me against the top guys, I think I can still compete.”
Ortiz feels that his record, that hasn’t seen a win added to the win column in nearly five years is deceiving, because he came close to winning against a few of the guys who beat him the past few years.
“Too bad people don’t pay attention to the major details. I’ve competed against the top guys and gone on to win world championships. I’m not getting submitted or knocked out…I’m making little mistakes where I should be submitting guys. I thought I beat Forrest Griffin 2 to 1 the second time. But it was what it was.”
Unfortunately for Ortiz, close only matters when you’re talking horseshoes, curling or hand grenades and this is fighting where constantly telling people you could have won your fights or that you were robbed makes you look like an excuse maker. He recalls that when he lost the fight to Hamill and he received the call to retire from the UFC he figured he would be seeing Ashton Kutcher burst through the door a moment later, but then reality set in that it was no joke.
“The UFC called me after that fight and said ‘we want you to retire’. I was shocked, I thought they were kidding around. I took it as they didn’t want to pay me, to give me what I’m worth. I’m competing against the top guys and I’m not getting dominated. So, next month, I’ll be fighting one of the top guys in the world again, ranked in the top 3, and I’m going to show how much I’m really worth.”
So if he gets manhandled by Bader like he did by Hamill, does that mean the UFC can give him a Costco gift certificate and a can of Xyience?