Something largely amiss lately in the atmosphere surrounding MMA pioneer Tito Ortiz’s recent fights is his trademark trash talk. ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ gained much notoriety early in his career for badmouthing opponents and for celebrating victories by digging a grave and laying his beaten opponent to rest.
As mentioned on Sherdog.com, Ortiz took to Bruce Buffer’s radio show to talk about his change of heart in hyping fights.
“I think my attitude’s changed a whole bunch where now I’m more positive,” said Ortiz. “Before I had to talk so much smack on the guy I was fighting. I had to be so negative. I’ve changed my whole attitude. I don’t need to sell the fight by talking smack on the other guy. My name will sell the fight.”
This is a change from the Ortiz of old. In a feud that grew MMA’s popularity in the United States, Tito took to challenging MMA-legend and pro wrestling persona Ken Shamrock back to the Octagon for a chance at Ortiz’s UFC Light Heavyweight Title. One memorable exchange caught the attention of many pro wrestling fans when Ortiz openly mocked Ken Shamrock on Fox Sport’s The Best Damn Sports Show Period. To wrestling fans not familiar with the sport, Shamrock was toted as ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Man’ on Vince McMahon’s programming, and to see Shamrock in his element of MMA was more compelling drama than anything apart of which he had ever been throughout his WWF career. Come fight night, Ortiz backed up his words by dominating Shamrock to a third round TKO via corner stoppage.
Ortiz mingled in other feuds across the UFC landscape, with perhaps the two most famous being against Chuck ‘the Iceman’ Liddell and the UFC President himself, Mr. Dana White. After succumbing to strikes in their first fight, Tito and Chuck met in a rematch which, at the time, was easily the biggest fight in UFC history. White and Ortiz have exchanged jabs through the media and face to face for years before recently having supposedly buried the hatchet.
Recent history shows a maturing of the former champion. Tito has showed respect to Rashad Evans leading up to their Saturday fight. When asked about Rashad’s improvement since their last fight, Tito has remarked on Rashad’s improved striking and wrestling. During the media conference call, Evans’ also noted his marked improvement in speed and takedown shoots in his most recent showing against Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson in May of last year.
No matter the lack of trash talk or fight buildup, with the MMA world throwing around contender talk, and with the promise of avenging a draw decision against Evans that could have, by many fans’ speculation, gone Ortiz’s way four years ago, Ortiz will likely be the most focused and intense version of himself, when the two meet in Philadelphia at UFC 133: Evans vs Ortiz II.