Tito Ortiz did what most assumed was next to impossible last night by not only defeating, but finishing Ryan Bader in the first round of their main card bout.
“I gave Dana [White] his opportunity to find someone to beat me, and it didn’t work,” Ortiz said in a postfight interview with UFC.com.
Ortiz netted his first win since defeating Ken Shamrock in 2006 by taking out the young gun in classic MMA fashion: dropping him to the mat with a short right hand and then finishing him with a guillotine, utilizing his underrated submission skills.
“I saw his legs buckle, and when I saw that, that was my chance. I hit him, one-two and elbows,” he stated. “I locked in the guillotine. As soon as I went to pull guard, I sunk my elbow and I tightened my grip. I was stone dry, because I wasn’t sweating yet. Right as he was trying to pull his head out, that’s when I sunk it in.
“He tapped, and I thought he was still going to pull his head out. That’s why I held onto it a little longer. I probably shouldn’t have done that, but it was just the emotions of not wanting to lose.”
The victory came in only 1:56 into the first round; Ortiz absolutely shone when all of his chips were down and earned a necessary win.
“Everybody knew that Tito had to win tonight to stay in the UFC, and he did it,” UFC President Dana White said at the post-fight press conference. “Not only did he win a fight, he won the fight impressively.”
The former longtime light heavyweight champion far exceeded the expectations of most, as it was widely held that it would likely be “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s” last night as a relevant MMA competitor, if he would continue competing at all after Bader defeated him.
Proving that the ending of any MMA fight can never be declared a foregone conclusion, Ortiz silenced his doubters — at least for now — and improved his record to 16-8-1, earning his third ever submission win.
“This was the rebirth of Tito Ortiz,” said Ortiz. “I’m injury free. I’m very healthy. I had a great training camp. I did it at home. This was the first time in 11 years that I didn’t go up to Big Bear. I think being mentally focused really helped out a lot. I had a lot of personal problems with my family, and I really focused on the positive and surrounded myself with people who uplifted me and showed me the true champion I really am.”
Bader falls to 12-2 in defeat and is forced to go back to the drawing board for the second time in his MMA career. He was defeated for the first time in his last outing against current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
As for what’s next for Ortiz, he noted that it was out of his hands, but would like a rubber match with an old rival.
“Give me my shot at one of the guys I thought that I beat already in Forrest Griffin,” he said. “[The judges] gave him a split decision, so give me another chance at him.”