Tito Ortiz is hoping to put his skeptics to rest, as he faces Forrest Griffin at UFC 106 this Saturday in Las Vegas, NV.
“I’m ready for the fight, man,” Ortiz exclaimed. “This is one of the biggest fights of the year for me and I’m excited to be back.
“Everything happened for a reason in my life, and this is my build on my way up and Forrest is going to have to be the one that I knock down to get back to the top,” he stated.
Ortiz and Griffin faced each other once before at UFC 59, a bout that Ortiz won via split decision. Ortiz has stated that his back had been an issue in that fight, and has since had back surgery. Fans were divided as to who actually won the bout, and Ortiz hopes that being healthy should help him settle the issue once and for all.
“When you only train for two days a week for the whole time I was up at camp, that’s what it really came down to,” Ortiz said of the first fight. “[Now it’s] where I can press the shots, press the tempo and get the takedowns.”
The bout will mark Ortiz’s return to the octagon after an absence of a year and a half. Ortiz’s last bout was at UFC 84 in May of 2004 against Lyoto Machida, where “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” suffered a unanimous decision loss.
“When I fought Machida, it was just one of those things where my takedowns weren’t at 100%,” he recalled. “I would hit a shot and they were sloppy. I thought he still dominated me during the fight, but at the last 30 seconds when I caught him in the triangle, and him being a black belt in jiu-jitsu, he’s not supposed to get caught in things like that.
“He got lucky because I was about that far away from submitting him,” he continued. “Now I submit guys in my training and I choke them out. I’m doing the right things to prepare for if I get caught in those conditions again. But once again, it goes back to my conditioning, goes back to my leg strength, and I’m back to that position again.”
Ortiz stopped from getting ahead of himself, and went back to focus on the task at hand.
“It’s just one step at a time, the light-heavyweight title is the future,” he said. “Right now it’s about Forrest Griffin.
Ortiz was originally scheduled to face UFC Hall Of Famer Mark Coleman this Saturday, however Coleman had to bow out of the bout after suffering an injury in training. Ortiz admitted that he was expecting an easier fight for his first fight back.
“I thought I was going to get a little easier fight, but hey, let’s do this,” Ortiz admitted. “I’m ready for it, let’s battle. Hopefully my hand will be raised at the end.”
The bout is important for both competitors, as Ortiz hasn’t had his hand raised since 2006, while Griffin is coming off of two losses, which includes his devastating first-round knockout loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 101.
“Yes, he had a couple of losses against Rashad and Anderson Silva, but those guys were the best in the world at the time,” he noted. “I’m on my way up, hopefully Forrest is ready. I ain’t taking nothing away from him but to me, I’m a better fighter.”
Ortiz faces Griffin in the main event of UFC 106 this Saturday. The event takes place inside the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.