It had been heavily rumored, if not blatantly stated by both parties, that former UFC light heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz would be ending his year-long free agency period to rejoin the UFC.
“For me, personally, it’s about the competition,” Ortiz said. “Financially and everything, I’m OK. Competition was the biggest factor. If I fight for Strikeforce, who am I going to fight? The best fighters are in the UFC. I’m happy. You’ll never hear anything about money out of my mouth ever again.”
Ortiz has compiled a 14-6-1 professional record over his 12-year mixed martial arts career, all of which were spent with the UFC. Although his Octagon accomplishments are numerous, they pale in comparison to the controversy that he has constantly generated outside of it.
“Tito Ortiz is still a guy fans want to see fight,” UFC president Dana White said. “He’s ready to compete at 205 pounds. A lot of people love him, and a lot of people love to hate him. He’s back. Tito and I set all our differences aside. Tito Ortiz will retire in the UFC.”
In all other professions, you would be fired instantly for badmouthing your boss. But not in the UFC. Here, in the land of blood and bruises, the company front-man more than welcomes a good verbal sparring, especially when the hatred is mutual.
“He’s one of the most dishonest human beings I’ve ever met. I put up with him when he was a good fighter. He’s not anymore. He’s done. I’m no longer in the Tito Ortiz business,” White emphatically stated the very instant Ortiz’ UFC contract expired.
In what was thought to be his last Octagon battle, Ortiz dropped a convincing unanimous decision to Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 in May of 2008. Since then, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has been one of the most sought after free agents while recovering from an October back surgery.
Although the 34-year-old remains one of the sports most imposing figures, it should be noted that he has gone 0-2-1 over his last three contests. And it could be argued that he hasn’t won a “big” fight since he took a split decision from Forrest Griffin at UFC 59 in April of 2006.
White hinted that Ortiz might face MMA vet Mark Coleman in his return, however a former foe has already offered to roll out the welcome back wagon.
“Sign me up to kick titos ass again,” Tweeted former UFC light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell.