As Tito Ortiz prepares to conclude his MMA career at UFC 148, he will do so as the latest inductee into the UFC Hall of Fame (HOF), a spot he earned for all he has given to the sport that he has fought in for the majority of his adult life.
To start a MMA career at 22-years-old in 1997 was risky. Few had confidence it would last, and those who did went through several years of financial worries. Yet, Ortiz lingered on and became a label for the sport.
For 14 years, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” never left the UFC, making him one of the final few of a generation. Along the way, he racked up several records.
After winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship once, Ortiz would defend it a successful and record-breaking five times for that weight class. Also, he will surpass his own record for most fights inside the UFC, currently at 27, when he enters the Octagon for the final time on July 7.
After initially losing the championship to Randy Couture, he would lose his following fight against Chuck Liddell. Both men are also in the UFC HOF. Ortiz would head back towards the road of victories, scooping up five more in the process.
Three fights later, two losses and a draw, and Ortiz’s future looked bleak as on the most popular fighters of time and UFC President Dana White had contractual disagreements. The two hashed out their differences in 2009 setting up his return.
His future again seemed uncertain after two straight losses. For all his accomplishments to the sport, he was given one more chance by White and he made it count choking out Ryan Bader to keep his career going. He would loss his next two fights, leading up to this final one where he will complete his trilogy against Forrest Griffin and it couldn’t end in a better way. Both have a victory against the other via split decision.
Ortiz will be the ninth fighter to enter the UFC HOF, with the last inductee being in 2010. The induction is set to take place at the UFC Fan Expo during the weekend of UFC 148.
Win, lose, or draw, this is the end of Ortiz’s road as an active fighter in the UFC. Ortiz has stated he wants to end his career with a win, but that’s not how the UFC operates. It’s a sport, not a fairytale and the ending a fighter hopes for doesn’t always come true. Whatever happens inside the Octagon happens. The final fight doesn’t make the fighter; it’s the moments leading up to it that do and Ortiz has had his fair share of those.