Bjorn Rebney on Tito Ortiz's Bellator future: 'He'll be back'

Esther Lin

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney isn't afraid to admit that if he books Tito Ortiz in another fight, he's risking another injury similar to the one which caused him to pull out of a planned main event against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.

"Sure, I'm worried about it," Rebney said Saturday night.

But that said, Rebney made it clear that if the 38-year-old former UFC light heavyweight champion recovers from his neck injury and is cleared to fight, we will be seeing him in the Bellator cage eventually.

"He'll be back," said Rebney. "Right now we just have to worry about the fracture in his neck healed 120 percent. Once it's healed he'll be back. He wants to fight again, and his neck specialist told me that it's not the kind of injury you can't come back from."

While the fans don't seem overly enamored with the idea of seeing Ortiz fight again -- and a small-but-vocal contingent at Long Beach Arena spent much of Saturday's main card serenading Ortiz, who was in attendance, with obscene chants -- Rebney says he plans on sticking by his commitment.

"I've made a commitment to him that we'd try to make another run," Rebney said. "And while this went s---, the assumption is he'll heal and we'll give it a run. He's had injuries, but he hasn't made a career out of pulling out of fights. ... "If the healing happens as is anticipated, then he'll get back in and we'll schedule another fight."

Rebney mocked the various conspiracies making the rounds, the ones which said the injury is fake and was done to scrap a pay-per-view card which wasn't selling.

"I can give you ridiculous smartass answer after ridiculous smartass answer about Oliver Stone and the grassy knoll," Rebney said. "I actually have x-rays from Tito's real neck that shows that it wasn't fracture before and it is now. So, if the conspiracy was deep enough where someone actually colluded to fracture Tito's neck to carry it out, then it's a conspiracy that's well beyond absurd. It's ridiculous."

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