Tito Ortiz (15-6-1) does a great job of keeping his name in the news. Despite not having fought since a unanimous decision loss to current UFC light heavyweight champion Lyota Machida at UFC 84 in May of 2008, Ortiz has tried to stay relevant in the MMA community in one the deepest divisions in the sport. Over the past 14 months, Ortiz has declared that he was close to signing a deal with EliteXC, Affliction and Strikeforce while maintaining that he was done with the UFC as long as Dana White was at the helm. Now it appears that the most likely scenario for Ortiz’s future is a return to the UFC.
In the past week, Tito Ortiz and Dana White both announced that they had made up after years of publicly feuding. And more recently, Dana White posted an ominous message via Twitter stating, “Welcome back Tito.” While those words seem to indicate that Ortiz is on his way back to the UFC, White later said Ortiz’s return was “a possibility” on ESPN 1100. Love him or hate him, most fans are eager to see the polarizing fighter back in the Octagon. However, given his previous declarations of impending contracts with the other aforementioned MMA organizations, fans shouldn’t get too excited about Ortiz’s return until there is a signed contract between Ortiz and the UFC.
Ortiz in his heyday was considered the face of the UFC franchise and held the light heavyweight crown between 2000 and 2003. He defended his title for a record five straight title defenses before losing the title to Randy Couture at UFC 44. Ortiz has been notorious for his antics inside the Octagon and for taunting his opponents most notably Ken Shamrock.
The big question for Ortiz, now 34 years old, is how much does he have left? Since his last fight, Ortiz has had back surgery and claims that he is now healthier than he’s been in years. He has not won a fight since defeating a clearly over-the-hill Ken Shamrock in 2006. Ortiz is 0-2-1 in his last three fights with losses to Chuck Liddell and Machida and a draw with former champion Rashad Evans. His last quality win was over Forrest Griffin in 2006 but that fight was a razor close split decision that many though Griffin won.
Rumors have circulated that if the UFC can get a deal done with Ortiz soon, he could face Rich “Ace” Franklin at UFC 103 in Dallas. Franklin was scheduled to fight Dan Henderson in a rematch of their January fight that Henderson won via a close split decision. That fight was recently removed from the UFC’s website fueling the speculation of the proposed fight between Franklin and Ortiz.