Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz will likely be fighting for his UFC job when he takes on tough young gun Ryan Bader next month at UFC 132 and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” must be aware of this, as he recently explained to the Telegraph that he almost lost his position on their roster following his last defeat in the Octagon.
“Dana White and Joe Silva told me they wanted me to retire, but I knew I still had the fight inside me,” said the MMA vet. “I pretty much begged for my job, to show how much I want to fight, but I still have it in my heart to compete, to fight. I told them I want to still fight against the top guys, I want to put on a show.
“I’ve just turned 36, but when they put me against the top guys, I think I can still compete.”
Having gone 0-4-1 since 2006, with his last victory coming against Ken Shamrock, the stats do not speak well for Ortiz’s chances against Bader. However, to his credit, he has faced only recent former champions in those bouts — aside from his most recent outing against Matt Hamill — and was only finished by Chuck Liddell. When facing Forrest Griffin, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, Ortiz was defeated by close decision or, as was the case against Evans, the fight ended in a draw.
Following another decision loss to his former The Ultimate Fighter 3 pupil Matt Hamill at UFC 121, Ortiz revealed that he was asked by the UFC to hang up his gloves.
“I made some mistakes against Hamill. I didn’t respect his takedown. The UFC called me after that fight and said, ‘We want you to retire.’ I was shocked, I thought they were kidding around. I took it as they didn’t want to pay me, to give me what I’m worth,” he said. “I’m competing against the top guys and I’m not getting dominated. So, next month, I’ll be fighting one of the top guys in the world again, ranked in the top 3, and I’m going to show how much I’m really worth.
“I’ve put in a great eight weeks in camp for Ryan Bader. I’m healthy and ready to compete.”
Ortiz will get the chance to prove his case when he meets “Darth” Bader at UFC 132 on July 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.