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Why Tito Ortiz Winning is a Good Thing

One minute and fifty-six seconds.  That’s how long it took Tito Ortiz to stun TUF 8 winner Ryan Bader and choke him out with a guillotine.  That’s also how long it took Ortiz to reverse course on what’s been a four-year and nine-month losing trajectory, and remind one and all something that they’d forgotten of the once great former light-heavyweight champ: he can still win.  And his winning is a good thing.

It’s easy to forget that Ortiz was an intrinsic part of the UFC’s rebirth.  In 2001, when Zuffa took the reins of the ailing promotion, they adopted as their poster boy the organization’s light-heavyweight champ – and Ortiz, with his sinister image and character and charisma, gladly took the role.  It was he, and he alone, who headlined the big, important events.  Remember Zuffa’s push to get back onto pay-per-view and make an imprint on the New York City media market?  That was around UFC 32, which took place across the Hudson River in New Jersey, and Ortiz was the featured marquee fighter, dancing amidst flames and pyrotechnics to his own tailor-made entrance song.  As for the organization’s return to pay-per-view itself – UFC 33 – an injured Ortiz headlined that one, too.  Zuffa’s first big grudge match?  That was Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock at UFC 40, which made for good business and gave many their first inclination that the sport could eventually grow huge.  Sure, new stars have since risen – created in the artificial confines of a TUF House or through their Herculean efforts within the Octagon – but originally it was all about the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy”, a grounding-and-pounding hype machine helping build a new brand.

Of course, none of that means you’ve ever had to like Ortiz.  But whether you’ve loved him or hated him over the years, the undeniable common denominator with the Huntington Beach Bad Boy is that he’s capable of evoking emotion.  That trait alone has made him resilient in terms of long-term employment.  His long-term employment, in turn, has made him one of the legends of the sport.

Let’s face it, the legends have been having a rough time of it as of late.  The once mighty Jens Pulver was a shadow of his former self in the WEC, fearsome Chuck Liddell became a sad lesson in excessive head trauma in his Octagon twilight, and Randy Couture – “The Natural”, “Captain America” and representative of everything positive the sport had to offer – went out on his shield (sans tooth) in his UFC exit.  Even Wanderlei Silva’s star has fallen.  Yes, Silva, who could at one time stand and bang with anyone, but was “out-banged” at the very same event that saw Ortiz victorious.  It’s a cruel sport that transforms our heroes into ineffectual punching bags, but that’s part and parcel with the whole “fighting in a cage” thing.  Still, watching them fall, one by one in dramatic fashion, is rough.  How sweet then the unexpected victory of a legend we’d all written off? 

Ortiz landing an improbable win after so long of a dry spell is good for him – he gets to keep a job he was so publicly barely clinging to – and it’s good for the sport.  His “W” at 1:56 of the first round means there’s still hope for the old guard when they ride into battle.  And it means that we as fans can once more cheer for the fighter at least partly responsible for carrying MMA out of the dark ages and into its renaissance.

  • aalvarez

    I don’t really like Ortiz, ( I met him at the Expos and he’s a dick) but I do agree with the article. He’s definitely one of the few that paved the way and deserves all the recognition for it. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Silliman/514229401 Matt Silliman

    I don’t think anyone forgot what Tito did in the past, I just think it’s easier to remember what he has been doing lately.  Which is losing and then making excuses for losing.  Granted Tito always fights top guys, but when you make almost a half million to fight you should fight top guys.  

    Tito was hoping for a rematch, I hope he gets one…..against Chuck.

    • Mr Kitty

      Don’t you think Chuck would be be putting his long term health at risk if he fought again? My heart wants to see Tito and Chuck one last time, but my head (the smarter of the two) doesn’t want Chuck to become the next Muhammed Ali.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Silliman/514229401 Matt Silliman

        I don’t think Tito hits hard enough to hurt chuck.  That was a freak hit on Bader.  Besides I doubt Chuck will ever end up like Ali, even if he fights Tito.  Ali took a lot of punches to the head. Chuck was getting Ko’d with one punch.  Ali get hit a ton of times.  They say a lot of boxers would have multiple concussions during the course of a single fight.

        • http://twitter.com/Warriordave927 warriordave927

          Yeah,i wouldnt be surprised if tito called out chuck knowing that chuck has been out from of fight for over a year and is now retired and knowing it won’t happen,but we
          all know tito is scared of chuck I still think he pulled out of their last fight cause he didnt want to get ko’d by chuck

        • Mr Kitty

          Look I love Chuck, but I really believe he’s punch drunk. I learned in my psychology class that once the brain has been damaged it never fully recovers. It will reorganize itself through a process called plasticity, but the areas that have been damaged are never the same. So it doesn’t take much force to get knocked out at that point. In Chuck’s prime, Tito could never hurt him, but now, even Tito could knock out Chuck. Studies have shown that multiple concussions and such lead to early dementia. I don’t think any of us want to see that happen to the Iceman.

          • jim genia

            Amen.

  • Lanfear

     Tito winning isn’t a good thing Jim. It only means he is around a little longer. He will go the way of Chuck and Silva soon. Also, I lost a shitload of money on bader…so yeah, fuck Tito. Who the fuck thought he was going to win!!! And no, I didn’t bet straight on Bader, that would be stupid, it was a multi. Tito v Bader was the only leg I lost.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Silliman/514229401 Matt Silliman

      I’m in the same boat as you betting.  Tito winning cost me some money…However, I also parlayed Tito to win but Soto lost so it was an all around shit night of betting for me.

      • Lanfear

        I live in Aus so I never bet on Sots. Don’t need money on him to get super pumped for his fights. So bummed that he is on a 2 fight losing streak

  • ass

    im curious to see who tito fights next…i really dont see him beating any top 205ers but hey i didnt see him beating bader either,especilly the way he did so i guess anything can happen

    • sandman

      Agreed. Regardless of his latest win, he is not the same fighter as he was years ago….

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