It's been more than a decade since his long UFC light heavyweight tile reign ended and his lower back and neck started turning on him. But Tito Ortiz, after a retirement and a TMZ-laden hiatus from the sport, is still taking about a comeback at 39 years old.
There was more than a little skepticism when Ortiz (16-11-1, but 1-7-1 over the last six years of his career) said he was coming out of retirement for a Nov. 2 pay-per-view fight with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. And a lot more "I told you sos," when he had to pull out due to a fractured neck, the same type of injury that he's encountered in the past and resulted in neck fusion surgery. But he's been talking again of late about coming back to Bellator, which signed him to a lucrative deal last year.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney doesn't yet have an answer to the Ortiz questions, the ones like if or when he'll be fighting again. Ortiz last fought on July 7, 2012, a decision loss to Forrest Griffin in what still could end up as the last fight of both men's careers.
"I've been having a good number of conversations with Tito," said Rebney. "The prior neck injury was disturbing, but we've gotten past that. The fracture was really disturbing because of the potential for paralysis under a worse-case scenario. We're doing a pretty exhaustive series of tests to see if he's fine, because we want to be 100 percent sure.
"It's one thing to have a fighter come back from a knee injury or a shoulder injury, but the neck and head, I'd rather err on the side of being overly cautious than rush and something happens. We need to be really careful."
Ortiz was brought in specifically to be a big-name opponent for Jackson. Since the injury canceled the match, Jackson has said on a number of occaions that he's no longer interested in that fight.