In the 13 months since his last fight, Tito Ortiz has said more times than I can count that he's close to signing a new contract to return to MMA with another organization. So take this with a grain of salt: Ortiz claims he's close to a new deal with Strikeforce, and he's already targeting an October return to fight Renato "Babalu" Sobral. He also says he has his eyes on a future fight with Fedor Emelianenko, and he says he won't return to the UFC as long as Dana White runs the company.
In the above video, Ortiz says he's working with Strikeforce on starting an organization of his own called "Punishment Fighting Championships," and that Ortiz will serve as both a promoter and a fighter for that organization. He also said he won't be returning to the UFC.
"Not as long as Dana White is the president of the UFC," Ortiz said. "I have too much integrity. I have too much respect for myself. ... He has no respect for me."
That video was recorded in Pittsburgh on Thursday, and according to Five Ounces of Pain, Ortiz repeated in an appearance in Pittsburgh Saturday night that he is close to working things out with Strikeforce. He also said he could face Babalu at a Strikeforce event in October, that he could sign a four-fight deal with Strikeforce, and that he could fight Fedor down the road.
Of course, I need to reiterate that this is all just Tito talking, and Tito has done a lot of talking about his future plans in the last 13 months. I know a lot of MMA fans are getting tired of hearing TIto talk about his future plans, because it's all talk and no action.
At the same time, Tito is a well-known, popular fighter, and he's probably the biggest draw in American MMA who's not currently under contract to the UFC. There are still a whole lot of fans who will tune in to see Tito fight, and that means Tito is still relevant. Even if over the last year, he's done a lot of talking and no fighting.