Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz is on the verge of making a late-career comeback, but he must first get past old rival and fellow former champion Rashad Evans.
After staying winless since 2006, Ortiz improbably took out young contender Ryan Bader with a first round submission at UFC 132 earlier this month. Now, he steps in for an injured Phil Davis to take on Evans early next month in a rematch of a 2007 fight that ended in a draw. Ortiz sees the victory over Bader as the beginning of his resurgence and is hungry to get back the title he long ago held, even if he has to walk through fire to get it.
“This is the rebirth of Tito Ortiz,” he says. “Let’s get back in the limelight, let’s get back to title contention, fight one of the toughest guys at light heavyweight and that’s Rashad Evans.”
As if he needed any more motivation, the 36-year-old gets extra fire from the fact that he likely would have been awarded the victory in his first bout with Evans had he not been docked a point for grabbing the fence in the second round.
“I always love paybacks. I get the opportunity to fulfill what I’ve always wanted to do and that’s beat him,” says Ortiz. “First time we fought, I thought I won the match. … He didn’t feel that strong, he felt weak. He’s gotten a lot better since then. I’ve changed a hundred percent since then, physically and mentally. It’s not an easy fight, but I’m a UFC fighter. I kick people’s a**es for a living.”
For the rematch, Ortiz pledges not to leave things for the judges to decide, vowing to blaze a path back to his title no matter who gets in his way.
“This time, I’m gonna finish the deal,” he promises. “I’m on the hunt to get my world title back, if I have to walk through Rashad to make that happen, I’m gonna.”
Evans and Ortiz will meet in the main event of UFC 133 this August 6 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.