Though it hasn’t been stated officially, Tito Ortiz will most likely be fighting for his future in the cage this Saturday night when he squares off against young gun Ryan Bader at UFC 132.
Many see this as a bad match up for Ortiz, whose bread-and-butter skills of wrestling and ground and pound may now be surpassed by “Darth” Bader, who is almost ten years his younger. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” doesn’t quite see it that way though and recently explained to ESPN.com why he’s no “stepping stone” for his younger peer.
“I’ve got nothing against Ryan Bader. I respect him and his skills,” Ortiz wrote in an ongoing blog segment he’s writing for ESPN. “I have no doubt he’s going to win the belt one day; he’s got heavy, heavy hands and could have finished a lot more people if he used his punches differently. He’s got some good kicks and his takedowns are very good. He’s very powerful too but my strength is exactly where I want it to be and I will match him for strength, believe me.
“But Bader made a mistake saying I am a stepping stone back to Jon Jones. I understand why he said it. When I was 28 I felt indestructible too and I was saying a lot of things about what I was going to do too. But I’m not a stepping stone to anyone. No one has ever had an easy fight against me and he made a mistake in saying that I am a stepping stone. Maybe it was a figure of speech, but even if it was it was a little disrespectful to a former world champion.
“Bader is coming off the first loss of his career. He now knows what it is like to have his takedowns stopped. That tested his will and, on that one night against Jones, he showed me that he panics when he can’t bully people around with his wrestling. He won’t be able to bully me on Saturday and his will is going to be tested again!”
Ortiz will be looking to prove himself still relevant by picking up his first win since a 2006 victory over Ken Shamrock when he meets Bader on the main card of UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber 2, which goes down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.