Tito Ortiz (file photo) wants a rubber match with Forrest Griffin. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Tito Ortiz pulled his professional career off of life support Saturday night by submitting young gun Ryan Bader with a first-round guillotine choke at UFC 132.
Following the triumph at the MGM Granden Arena in Las Vegas, an exuberant Ortiz called out a familiar foe as the man he would like to face in his next Octagon appearance. Though “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” would also like a shot at redemption against Rashad Evans in the future, Ortiz first wants a rematch with another former champ: Forrest Griffin.
“I gave [UFC President] Dana [White] his opportunity to find someone to beat me, and it didn't work [with] Bader,” said Ortiz in a postfight interview with UFC.com. “So give me my shot at one of the guys I thought that I beat already in Forrest Griffin. [The judges] gave him a split decision, so give me another chance at him.”
The light heavyweights have battled twice, with each man owning a split-decision win in the rivalry.
Though Ortiz was already calling out his next opponent just minutes after his victory over Bader, few observers felt Ortiz had a chance against Bader prior to their contest. The UFC president had stated before UFC 132 that if Ortiz were to lose, he would likely be out of a job. To his credit, however, the former champion came through when it mattered most. The fighter feels that positive changes in his training environment as well as improvements in his overall health contributed significantly to his victory over Bader.
“[This was] the rebirth of Tito Ortiz. I’m injury free. I’m very healthy. I had a great training camp. I did it at home. This was the first time in 11 years that I didn't go up to Big Bear. I think being mentally focused really helped out a lot,” said Ortiz. “I had a lot of personal problems with my family, and I really focused on the positive and surrounded myself with people who uplifted me and showed me the true champion I really am.”
Once the light heavyweight division's most dominant fighter, Ortiz had gone just 0-4-1 in his last five fights and hadn't won since 2006 before choking out Bader on Saturday night. However, the fighter managed put it all together at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, a byproduct of the support he received from his trainers.
“Every day, [my trainer] Jason Parillo told me to believe in myself. You don't understand. This game of MMA, it's very mental,” said Ortiz. “[I showed] the true champion I am -- [the fighter] who laid the groundwork for these [younger] fighters in the UFC. I worked really hard, and tonight it showed.”
Ortiz managed to close the distance against Bader early in the bout, stepping inside of the powerful wrestler's punches to land a sweet right hand of his own. Once Bader hit the canvas, Ortiz pounced on him and didn't let up until he had finished the fight. Though Ortiz held onto the choke a moment too long as the referee stopped the contest, the fighter asserts that it was simply a display of raw emotion and not intentionally poor sportsmanship.
“I saw his legs buckle, and when I saw that, [I knew] that was my chance. I hit him, one-two and [then landed two] elbows,” explained Ortiz. “I locked in the guillotine. As soon as I went to pull guard, I sunk my elbow and I tightened my grip. I was stone dry, because I wasn't sweating yet. Right as he was trying to pull his head out, that's when I sunk it in.
“He tapped, and I thought he was still going to pull his head out. That's why I held onto it a little longer. I probably shouldn't have done that, but it was just the emotions of not wanting to lose.”