Tito Ortiz may become the next elder statesman to walk away from mixed martial arts, as he recently told MMAHeat’s Karyn Bryant that his current contract with the UFC is nearing its end and he didn’t sound particularly compelled about re-upping when it does.
“Maybe it’s time. I don’t know,” Ortiz said of retiring. “I guess when I leave on my own terms — and I look at it as, when I don’t have fun coming in the gym anymore, sparring and pushing myself and running every day, maybe it is time. I’m not overstaying my welcome. My goal in my whole career was to do 15 years in MMA. May 30th will be my 15th year of fighting in the UFC and in MMA in general. … This’ll be fight No. 26 for me, I think. So I’ll have 27 and walk away. I think I’ve done good.
The 36-year-old fighter has been competing in the UFC since 1997 and has faced a host of the sport’s luminaries over the course of his storied career. In recent years, Ortiz fell from relevance by repeatedly coming up short against his division’s top fighters, but The Huntington Beach Bad Boy The People’s Champ saved his career with a brilliant first-round submission victory over Ryan Bader. A subsequent loss to Rashad Evans positioned him to face Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira this weekend at UFC 140.
Should he defeat Nogueira, Ortiz will have one last fight on his contract to fulfill; the father of two says it will take quite a bit for him to stick around beyond that.
“You never know if Dana and Lorenzo come to me with some numbers that make sense to me,” he said. “I’m healthy. I just don’t want to have another surgery in my neck or my back anymore. My doctor says, ‘Out of surgery, you’ll get three years. And after that, you may have to have surgery again if you keep doing the banging.’ Is it worth it not being able to run with my kids or wrestle with my kids or throw a football with my kids when they get older? A million dollars ain’t worth it.”