Few fighters have had as significant an impact on the sport of mixed martial arts as Tito Ortiz.
In July, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” will be rewarded for those accomplishments with his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame prior to his final bout against Forrest Griffin at UFC 148. UFC President Dana White told MMAWeekly.com of the decision following UFC 150 press conference on Tuesday. Ortiz is expected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 6 as part of the UFC Fan Expo.
With his enshrinement, Ortiz joins Mark Coleman, Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell, Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock as the eighth fighter to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame. Tapout co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis is also in the UFC Hall of Fame.
Now 37 years old, Ortiz made his Octagon debut in 1997, defeating Wes Albritton before falling to Guy Mezger in tournament bouts at UFC 13. As it turned out, he was just getting started. Ortiz would compete outside the promotion just once while compiling a UFC-record 26 career appearances -- Hughes is No. 2 all-time with 25.
Ortiz captured the UFC light heavyweight title in 1999 by defeating Wanderlei Silva and then successfully defended the belt five straight times before losing it to Randy Couture at UFC 44. He would receive one more shot at UFC gold but came up short against Chuck Liddell at UFC 66, a fight which drew a live gate of $5.4 million, still the largest MMA gate in Nevada history. Ortiz was always one of the sport’s biggest draws, and his feuds with Liddell, Ken Shamrock and White helped drive MMA to its current level of popularity.
The loss to the “Iceman” marked the beginning of Ortiz’s decline, as he has gone 1-6-1 in UFC bouts since December 2006. He experienced a brief return to glory with his upset of Top-10 light heavyweight Ryan Bader at UFC 132. The resurgence was short-lived, however, as Ortiz suffered back-to-back defeats to Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his next two outings.
UFC 148 takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and is headlined by a middleweight title rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. Ortiz’s rubber match with Griffin is the final fight on his current UFC contract.