After recently making amends with his long-term nemesis, UFC President Dana White, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz made an appearance at UFC 101: Declaration last weekend in Philadelphia.
Prior to the bouts, Ortiz gave an on camera ringside interview for HEAVY with MMA journalist Jesse Holland.
Gushing with enthusiasm, Tito made it clear that he was a new man following back surgery in October of 2008 and that he couldn’t “wait to get back in the cage and start competing.”
Never short on confidence, Ortiz who hasn’t fought since suffering an unanimous decision loss to now UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 84: Ill Will in May of 2008, seemed convinced that he would recapture his belt. “Of course I’ll have a little ring rust,” he conceded, “but after the first round it will probably go away.”
Despite the bravado, The Huntington Beach Bad Boy is definitely taking his long awaited return to the UFC seriously. He explained, “I’m working with some of the best guys now, you know with Freddie Roach… Cleber Luciano (and) of course Saul Soliz.”
Ortiz, who claims to have been experiencing back pain since suffering a unanimous decision loss to Randy Couture at UFC 44: Undisputed, let it be known that now that he is healthy he intends to retake his throne at the helm of his division. He boasted, “Me at 100%, these light heavyweights better watch out because I’m in a hunt to get my light heavyweight (belt) back.”
The former champion even did a bit of prognosticating when asked about the night’s card. He was optimistic that if his good friend Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove did “the smart stuff” he should pull off a win over Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida. He didn’t expect Forrest Griffin to last more than two minutes against the indomitable Anderson Silva and thought Kenny “Ken Flo” Florian stood a fighting chance against BJ Penn given The Prodigy’s recent rash of negativity. One out of three is not bad, but it is a good thing Ortiz doesn’t make his living as an odds maker.
Ortiz says he is hungry to fight again and looking forward to a scheduled bout with Mark Coleman in November and possibly another match on New Year’s. Ultimately, Tito has his sights set on a rematch with Machida and claims that “last time I tested his heart in three rounds” and that “this time he is not getting away,” referring to a near submission Tito almost pulled off during a late third round flurry. Whether or not Tito returns to the mountaintop, the UFC should be pleased to have one of its original poster boys back in the fold.