With five consecutive and successful light heavyweight title defenses in the UFC, Tito Ortiz is no stranger to a division that he dominated for several years.
With UFC on FOX 4 just one day away, Ortiz shares his thoughts on the four men who will headline the card.
Ortiz lost to Lyoto Machida (17-2) via unanimous when they met at UFC 84.
“When I fought him, Machida was still on the way up, no one had really any time to work out and study his style, and it was a very frustrating experience for most of the fight,” said Ortiz. “He throws some very unique strikes, and his wrestling, because of that sumo background, is underrated.”
Machida’s opponent Ryan Bader (14-2) is someone Ortiz is familiar as he secured his final MMA win against him at UFC 132. Ortiz feels that this fight is best on the ground for Bader, as Machida is a threat when in standing.
“He’s very dangerous up close, people don’t think about that because he’s so good at range, but let me tell you, that knee to the guts he hit me with was no fun at all,” said Ortiz. “Thankfully I was in shape because that shot really took the wind out of me. He was a little easier to control on the ground and I was able to get him in a triangle. That was in deep, man, but he is very talented and has heart and he fought through it. I think Bader needs this on the ground as much as possible.”
Ortiz takes notes that Bader is a danger and sees him as a possible champion in the future.
“With Bader, I had my way with him,” said Ortiz. “I landed a big shot and tapped him out with a choke, but I think losing like that made him make adjustments and I think he can still be a champion someday. I think Bader could take this.”
Although Ortiz has never fought Mauricio Rua (20-6) or Brandon Vera (18-5-1), he notes how important this fight is for both men.
“This is Shogun’s fight to lose,” said Ortiz. “He has the advantages, he has the experience and he must feel that he can win the title back and won’t want to miss out on that shot.”
Ortiz predicts Rua to win, but sees a win for Vera as a great way to rejuvenate his career.
“Vera did have a lot of hype on him at one time, but he didn’t live up to that,” said Ortiz. “Now this is his last chance to get into that top level position, and he should be inspired, man. He has to let it all go because his back is against the wall. I used to hate and love that feeling. I know what he’s feeling right now, like he has the world against him, but – at the same time – he can say to the world ‘Screw you!’ by scoring the upset. I think Shogun should win, but Vera winning would be a heck of a story and, if he can do it, good for him.”
UFC on FOX 4 takes place August 4 at 8pm Eastern time.