Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz is one of the main reasons that the UFC is still afloat today.
During the dark days, when Zuffa had just picked up the UFC from Semaphore Entertainment Group and was desperately trying to breath life into the floundering promotion, Ortiz held the promotion’s UFC light heavyweight title and did his absolute damnedest to make sure everyone knew and was paying attention.
At a time when the sport was widely banned and considered by the general public (those who even knew of its existence) to be something of a deviant freakshow, Ortiz was one of a very few MMA personalities with crossover appeal and the ability and willingness to draw eyes to a fight. Despite building his reputation as one of MMA’s preeminent trash talkers, the 36-year-old recently told The Sudbury Star that the days of berating his opponents pre-fight are behind him.
“I gave it up; I will no longer talk trash about anybody else,” Ortiz said. “I don’t have to sell pay-per-views on trash talk. I sell it on my name alone. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am. When I was talking trash, I was the world champion. I was really able to put this sport on the map. With trash talk, of course I always backed it up when it was fight time. If you’re going to talk trash, you’ve got to back it up.”
Ortiz also commented on his trash talking legacy and listed the fighters whom he sees as its torchbearers for the next generation.
“Chael’s hands down the best,” Ortiz said of UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen. “If you’re going to talk trash, you’ve got to back it up and Chael, I felt he backed it up really well against (Anderson) Silva. He made a mistake at the end of the fifth round. He made a mistake and it’s just one of those things. I think he’s still one of the toughest guys at 185 pounds.
“Chael Sonnen is No. 1. I think he’s the best guy.”
The Huntington Beach Bad Boy also gave props to his former “TUF” pupil, Michael Bisping, who never seems to run out of ways to grate people.
“Bisping’s good; like I said, all it comes down to is saying the truth,” Ortiz said. “Bisping, he’s going to try and get in a guy’s head. Bisping is a guy who came from season three (of the Ultimate Fighter) with me. I still tell him, ‘Bisping, just say the truth, man. Whatever comes from your heart makes the most sense to people that want to hear it.’ The fighters who are hush-hush about things are forgotten about. It’s kind of bad to say it, but you’ve got to talk trash to be recognized, but just as long as you can back it up.
Finally, Ortiz credited the fighting Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate, who never betray their mean-mugging, bird-flipping Stockton roots.
“I like the Diaz brothers; I like both of them,” Ortiz said. “Nate is a guy who’s gone very far and is still up-and- coming. I think he can be a champion. He’s still very, very young. And his brother (Nick) now being a champion and getting a chance to fight Georges St. Pierre — can he be one of the guys to shut St. Pierre up and become the champion? I like him.”
Ortiz is set to face Rashad Evans tomorrow night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the main event of UFC 133. Don’t forget to check back on FightLine.com for our live, ongoing coverage of the event.