Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz will be returning to the cage after a near year layoff this weekend at UFC 121 to take on former student Matt Hamill. Ortiz was forced into his hiatus by nagging back and neck injuries on which he received surgery. The former champ recently appeared on the Sherdog Radio Network’s program It’s Time with Bruce Buffer to discuss what his upcoming bout means to him and how he feels heading into the fight.
“I’d like to be in those (championship) shoes once again, and Saturday night will be the first step to make that happen,” Ortiz said, pointing to his bout with Hamill as the first stepping stone on his way back to the title he held for three years.
Ortiz has taken criticism in the past for citing injuries as reasons he has had flat performances, but the Californian now assures that he will show up Saturday night injury-free and ready to return to form.
“Camp’s gone perfect. No injuries,” Ortiz said. “The first time in seven years that I haven’t had any injuries, and I’m very, very thankful. Someone’s looking over me. It’s time to battle. Time to go to war …”
0-3-1 in his last four (albeit against top competition in Chuck Liddell, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Forrest Griffin), Ortiz certainly has something to prove Saturday night and he told Buffer that he is primed and ready to make a statement.
“I’m in a good place. I’m in a very good place,” he said. “Physically and emotionally, I’m in a place that I’ve always wanted to be in. I’m not going to hold anything back. I’m not going to leave it in the judges’ hands. I’m going to fight with my heart, my determination, my mind, as hard as I possibly can. I’m going to leave it all out in the cage.”
Ortiz will take on his former The Ultimate Fighter protege this weekend on the main card of UFC 121, which is going down at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and will feature a heavyweight championship bout between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez.