This isn’t the first time Tito Ortiz has announced his retirement. The former UFC light heavyweight champion called it a career after a 2012 loss to Forrest Griffin and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Then came an improbable run with Bellator, one in which he drew a game-changing television rating for a fight with Stephan Bonnar on Nov. 2014 which helped usher in the current era of MMA free agency.
But while the inevitable can be postponed, time catches up with everyone eventually. Ortiz’s Bellator 170 main event against Chael Sonnen comes two days before his 42nd birthday, and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” affirmed that win, lose, or draw, he intends for the bout to be the last of his MMA career.
“This retirement is well due,” Ortiz said on a Bellator 170 conference call. “Twenty years of competition has pretty much, I’d still be fighting if it wasn’t for my surgeries.”
While Ortiz has taken some heat over the years for his frequent references to his physical woes, the injuries he has accumulated in a lifetime of combat sports which started in the sport’s Wild West early days is no joke.
“My biggest enemy has been my surgeries,” Ortiz said. “I’ve had an ACL replaced in my left knee, ACL replaced in my right knee, 50 percent of my meniscus taken out of my right knee, lower back fusion, C-6, C-7 fused in my neck, C-5, C-4 disk replacement, C-4, C-3 fused. I have 26, 27 concussions, hundreds of stitches, I’ve been through the grinder. My biggest enemy has been my body.”
Ortiz (18-12-1) says his training camp has gone relatively well, all things considered, and that he doesn’t feel any additional pressure knowing this is going to be his final fight, one held a short drive from his hometown.
After a roller-coaster career filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, though, he wanted his legacy to be remembered for what he’s accomplished outside the ring.
“I want to be remembered as a fighter with integrity,” Ortiz said. “A fighter who did it this way, who has respect because he wanted to push the envelope for the fighters.”