‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Tito Ortiz took to his blog on ESPN.com to talk about tonight’s fight with fellow former champ, ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans. Ortiz talked about finally being able to earn a living in the fight game without lingering injuries.
“I’m in a really good place… I’ve never woke up on fight week feeling so good. Maybe I got so used to waking up feeling banged up and sore over the last few years that I forgot what it feels like to be in fight week and feeling so healthy and in shape.”
Ortiz went on. “I’m really loving life right now. I honestly think being positive is a choice, and now that I’m getting to compete healthy I remind myself I’ve got the best job in the world, a great family and there’s nothing to be negative about.”
Tito’s injuries have been a constant concern. Since losing a superfight rematch with Chuck Liddell, Ortiz went nearly 5 years without a win. Though the loss to Liddell was from strikes, Tito has not been badly hurt in a fight since. He fought Evans to a draw, after receiving a point deduction for grabbing the cage, a penalty which drew the ire of many fans when we routinely see MMA fights today with even more dramatic cage grabbing that often goes unpunished.
In Tito’s loss to Matt Hamill, he was outwrestled and outpressured, not sustaining much damage. He looked impressive against Forrest Griffin for the first round and a half but ultimately lost the split decision. His most lopsided loss since the Liddell rematch likely came against then-undefeated Lyoto Machida.
During the fight, Machida’s takedown defense and exotic brand of karate seemingly had Ortiz confounded. Machida laced together trips, jumping switch kicks, and gruesome knees to the body in a performance that had UFC Commentator Joe Rogan questioning whether or not Ortiz had even watched his opponent’s prior fights. After being down three rounds, though, most fans remember the fight for Tito’s last ditch comeback attempt, securing what looked like a promising triangle choke in the final minute of the fight, invigorating the crowd, before ultimately dropping the decision.
Though the man’s losses piled up before the Ryan Bader fight, Ortiz has at least showed tenacity and an unwillingness to go away, looking like he belonged in the big fights, though something just seemed to be missing. Ortiz addresses this as well as some prefight conversation further down the blog.
“You’ve probably seen the clip the UFC released with Rashad and me talking via satellite. Rashad was in full “bad guy” mode saying he was going to finish me ‘quick.’ I’ve never been ‘finished quick’ in my career. Guy Mezger caught me with a choke back in the late 90s when I was a kid learning the sport and Chuck Liddell stopped me with punches, but no one has ‘finished me’ like Rashad is trying to claim he’s going to do Saturday.” Closing the post, Ortiz finished with, “I think he’s got a lot of fear in his heart.”
The pair will meet tonight at UFC 133 in Philadelphia, where Evans will fight for the first time since May 2010, and where Ortiz will be looking to turn a losing streak into a winning streak.