After being forced out of a June scheduled bout with rival Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell due to a neck injury, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz will finally be making his return to the Octagon (after a year layoff) this October at UFC 121. Ortiz will be facing friend and former student Matt “The Hammer” Hamill in a matchup that UFC President Dana White says came to fruition simply because both men were available at the right time.
“Tito called the office not too long ago and spoke with me and said that he’s ready to get back in–he needed a few days to basically do his weight lifting and roll and see how his neck was feeling,”White explained to the crew at ESPN MMA Live this Thursday. “He called me back ten days later and said he was ready and Matt Hamill just came off an incredible win over Keith Jardine and timing usually is the reason we make certain fights too and the timing was right for Tito and Matt Hamill.”
Ortiz has not appeared in the Octagon since a November 2009 split decision loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 106. Ortiz is 0-3-1 in his last three fights (against Chuck Liddell, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Forrest Griffin, respectively) and has not won a fight since he defeated Ken Shamrock via TKO in 2006.
Hamill has fared somewhat better as of late as he has technically won his last four fights, even though one of those wins came via disqualification after Jon “Bones” Jones repeatedly battered Hamill with what were ruled to be illegal elbow strikes. Hamill most recently appeared at The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell Vs. Team Ortiz Finale where he defeated Keith Jardine by unanimous decision.
UFC 121 has yet to be officially announced but is expected to take place on October 23rd at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and will feature UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar defending his belt against top contender Cain Velasquez as well as newly acquired welterweight Jake Shields making his UFC debut against Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann.