Dana White confirmed during his media conference call today that former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz has returned to the organization. Ortiz joined the call, and noted that he would retire with the organization.
Ortiz and White had been hinting at a return of “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” for the past week, with Ortiz all but confirming the return on his official MySpace page last night.
“A new beginning starts tomorrow,” Ortiz stated on his MySpace last night. “I have stood my ground as a fighter and business man. Now my fans will get to see the best of me. New back, new mind, and new motivation.
“I hope you will be as happy as I am. Let the Punishment Begin!”
While it was rumored that Ortiz would face Rich Franklin at UFC 103, White instead announced that the returning Vitor Belfort would fill that spot. White did note that Ortiz would likely face UFC Hall Of Famer Mark Coleman in his first fight back.
“We’re talking about Tito versus Mark Coleman in (Tito’s) first fight,” White stated.
Ortiz noted that his back was fully healed, and he was training with Freddie Roach and expects to fight in November or December.
“I’m looking around towards November or December (to fight),” Ortiz added during the call. “I’m coming full force. I want to get the title back.”
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. Ortiz recently noted that he had been negotiating with Strikeforce, however the lack of competition in the organization led to his return to the UFC.
“It’s about competition,” he stated. “I love [Strikeforce CEO] Coker. But who do I fight over there? I want to fight the best guys in the world. I think my fans deserve it, me with my 100-percent back. I want the light heavyweight title around my waist again.”
White also addressed the bad blood between the two which has spanned many years, which was only settled a couple of weeks ago.
“I think the fans are as over the Dana-Tito bull [expletive] as we are,” White noted. “I’m not saying that Tito and I will never disagree on anything again. But I don’t think Tito and I are ever going to go down the road that we did before. I think we’re at a place in this thing now that we can talk and figure it out.”
“Dana came to me … and apologized to me,” Ortiz explained. “For me personally it was about competition. (The UFC) is the best show in the world. That’s why I’m here.”