Ortiz lost to Matt Hamill in a unanimous decision in one of the night's featured bouts, a defeat that marked his fourth setback in his last five fights (he also has a draw in that time). Many fighters are cut after two or three losses, leading reporters to question White about the former light-heavyweight champion's future.
White's answer was telling.
"I think the fight tonight was [about] Tito Ortiz's relevancy in the light-heavyweight divsion," White said during a post-fight interview on ESPN's MMA Live. "I don't know the exact number, but he's lost like four in a row. And I think we know what happens when you lose four in a row in the UFC. This is the big leagues, man."
Ortiz (15-8-1) hasn't won a pro fight since October 2006, when he TKO'd Ken Shamrock. Since then, every fight he'd taken part in saw him face a man who at one point held a UFC championship, but that streak ended when he faced Hamill, a 34-year-old who has had some success but not yet established himself as a top-flight contender in the light-heavyweight division.
Hamill outstruck Ortiz overall 63-49, and also took him down three times, while Ortiz was unsuccessful on his lone takedown try.
"I don't think Tito looked horrible," White said. "I wouldn't say, 'Oh my God, Tito looked terrible tonight.' One of the things that is an absolute fact is I don't care who you are, how long you've been around, or who you've beat, you have to stay active in the fight game. If you do not stay active, it's hard to come back."
Ortiz was one of the cornerstone fighters for the UFC as it rose to mainstream prominence in the last decade. He held the promotion's light-heavyweight championship from Sept. 1999 to Sept. 2003 but in recent years has suffered from a series of injures. He's had two major surgeries over the last two years, one on his back and a more recent one on his neck. In the leadup to the bout with Hamill, Ortiz said he was 100 percent healthy and would make no excuses if he lost the fight.
After the fight, Ortiz held up Hamill's arm as the victor, quickly accepting his loss, but it's certainly possible that as he walked out of the UFC octagon dejectedly, he was doing so for the last time.
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