Regardless of the final result in his Bellator 170 showdown with Chael Sonnen, Tito Ortiz believes the time has come to say goodbye to mixed martial arts.
During a conference call on Tuesday, Ortiz reiterated a previous statement that he will retire after Bellator 170 on Jan. 21. He claims that decision is final, even if he defeats Sonnen at the Forum in Los Angeles. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” cited a laundry list of injuries and a desire to spend more time with his family as the driving forces behind his decision.
“This retirement is due. Twenty years of competition, not even 20 years of competition -- I think I’d still be fighting if it wasn’t for surgeries. My biggest enemy has probably been my surgeries,” Ortiz said before listing the litany of procedures he’s had over the years. “...I’ve been through the grinder. My biggest enemy has been my body. For this camp I’m very, very lucky. Yeah I get a sore neck here and there. But I’ve been able to put the work in. I’m doing three-a-days on Monday-Wednesday-Fridays; I’m doing four-a -days on Tuesday-Thursdays; two-a-days on Saturdays and I call it a week. Almost four months that I’ve been going at it.”
Ortiz said he hasn’t lacked for motivation since Sonnen called him out shortly after signing with Bellator MMA.
“I came from UFC; I retired from UFC to get away from the contract. [Spike TV president] Kevin Kay and Bellator gave me an opportunity to reinvigorate my career, and I want to leave on my own terms....I sat back and started thinking about what would be my last fight to call it a day. All of a sudden I’m watching Spike and Chael Sonnen comes on and calls me a coward and wants to fight me. I swear there was the biggest smile on my face,” Ortiz said.”.... It’s time to showcase my skills. Chael says he’s fighting me because he’s jealous. I’m going in to get redemption. To me, Chael is my enemy. This is no game, this is nothing fun. This is what I do for a living. I train and I go out and try to hurt my opponent.
“This is something I love to do, and that’s destroy somebody. I hope Chael’s in great shape. I hope the last three fights he’s been knocked out or stopped hasn’t really hurt his mind that bad, because when I’m on top of him he’s gonna literally s--t himself because I’m going to put my elbows through his face.”
Ortiz hasn’t competed since Bellator 142 in September 2015, when he was submitted by then light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary with an inverted triangle choke in the first round. The 41-year-old fighter began his promotional tenure with victories against Alexander Shlemenko and Stephan Bonnar. Ortiz says he isn’t worried about all the extra incentive that comes with a retirement fight.
“No pressure. I love it when my back’s pushed against the wall and people expect me to lose. I’m the underdog....there’s something in me that I love to prove people wrong,” he said. “It’s been my whole life that I’ve been proving people wrong. Not only to prove people wrong, but the people that support me to prove them right...The pressure doesn’t bother me. I’ve been doing this for so long.”
Ortiz hasn’t been able to consider what comes next because of his focus on Sonnen, but he does have an idea of how he’d like to be remembered when he’s gone.
“I want to be remembered as a fighter with integrity. A fighter that did it his way, who has respect because he wanted to push the envelope for the fighters. A fighter that came out dressing nice and talking the talk and walking the walk,” he said. “Integrity is huge and it worked for me. I’ve never stepped on anybody to get ahead, and I always helped people as I came up....I’ve always been a very giving person.
“I just want to be remembered as a fighter with integrity that’s inspired many other fighters and fans that watched the sport.”