If the man himself is to be believed, we will see “the real wrath of Tito Ortiz” this weekend. Ortiz is scheduled to fulfill the last fight of his UFC contract this Saturday night, May 24, at UFC 84: Ill Will against Lyoto Machida. However, the ‘Ill Will’ isn’t towards his opponent, its directed at his boss, UFC President Dana White. Of course, Tito won’t have the opportunity to beat on White in the cage, so he plans on beating down an undefeated Machida instead.
“I really think I’m going to succeed after this fight, no matter what. In my mind, I know I’m going to win. There’s no doubt in my mind, without a doubt. I know for a fact that I’m going to beat Lyoto Machida. He doesn’t know it yet, but when the bell rings and the referee says, let’s get it on, I’ll be dumping him on his head, and he’ll feel the real wrath of Tito Ortiz.”
Tito was once the UFC’s poster child. He reigned as the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion for over three years, dominating opponents with his superior wrestling skills and ground n’ pound. However, those days are years behind us, and Tito of late has not looked like the Tito of old. Ortiz has mainly attributed his drop in performance and conditioning to his back injuries, injuries he claims are now fully healed.
“I started camp four months prior to the fight. That’s the first time I’ve started this early. I was really focused on getting my core strength very, very strong. My back is really strong. My stomach is really strong. You’ll see at the weigh-ins how shredded I am. I’m in great shape.”
“I’ve actually picked it up. I’m running four miles a day. I’ve never done that in my career, ever. I really think I’ve let a lot of my fans down by getting tired after the second round. I’ve never a person like that to get tired. I’ve always pushed full-force for five, five minute rounds. We’re training six, six minute rounds with 30 seconds rests. I’m up here at altitude doing it, so I’m going to be ready for three, five minute rounds without a doubt.”
“It just feels great to be able to train for once and be able to wrestle the way I used to wrestle, spar the way I used to spar, and not have to go through three days of training and have to take four days off That was really, really bad. It was hindering my fighting style, I believe. I’m very focused, no injuries, and I’m able to focus my time on training.”
Tito has always been as good if not better at talking as he is at fighting. So, it’s hard to take anything he says with anything less than a grain of salt. The fact of the matter is, whether he’s in the best shape of his life or not, Lyoto Machida is no slouch and presents a very real threat to Tito. Tito’s going to have to take him down and win the fight like he used to win fights, and I don’t know if Tito can do that against a fighter as talented as Machida.
Whatever happens though, if there is one thing you can count on, it’s that Tito’s going to go out with a bang.
“It’s my octagon. I’ve been doing it for 11 years. I’m very focused. I’m hungry. I have everything on the line right now, and nothing to lose. I have a lot of people to prove wrong. It’s me versus the company.”
If he doesn’t, it won’t be the last you will see of Tito Ortiz. He still is one of the most recognizable names and top draws in mixed martial arts. Someone will snatch him up. That someone just might be Gary Shaw and EliteXC.
“Of all my years in the fight game, I know one thing that I could see, touch, smell and feel, and that is a star and a superstar. Every time I see Tito Ortiz, he wreaks of stardom. I think I can even better his days in the UFC. I think I can reincarnate Ortiz. He is a talented fighter, and he has all the mechanisms that you need to make someone a superstar.”
“Can you imagine Tito Ortiz and Kimbo in the cage together one day? My door is open. I hope that he’s able to negotiate one day because I would never interfere with a contract. I hope he’s sitting right next to me, not across from my desk, but right with me.”
A move to EliteXC would likely give Tito a break in the level of competition that he has been facing in the UFC. Shaw, coming from the boxing world, knows how to build a fighter, which exactly what he would do with Tito—hand-feed him opponents to showcase his skills. The casual fan base which EliteXC hopes to captivate on May 31 knows Tito as a punishing fighter. Would it really matter who he did it to in the eyes of the national audience? America didn’t seem to care who Mike Tyson knocked out in his prime, and more Americans still want to see him fight to this day than even know who Fedor Emelianenko is. I don’t think it would be much different for Tito. After a few wins, huge money fights with Kimbo Slice and Frank Shamrock would likely await him.
In short, we won’t really know if we’ll see the “real wrath of Tito Ortiz” until he steps in the cage Saturday night. And even if we don’t, does it really matter? Someone is going to make Tito into a star again.
If no one else, Tito will.