UFC 132 topped off the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s festivities on Independence Day weekend of 2011. The card was headlined by bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, who held onto his title and avenged an early-career loss with a dominant unanimous decision win over Urijah Faber. It also featured plenty of fireworks, in the form of Chris Leben sparking his self-described “idol” Wanderlei Silva in half a minute and Carlos Condit annihilating Dong Hyun Kim with a flying knee.
However, the most memorable fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center that night by far was the match between Tito Ortiz and Ryan Bader. Going into the fight, Ortiz was 0-4-1 in his last five fights and had not beaten anyone since punching out a dilapidated and overmatched Ken Shamrock twice, nearly five years before. Given Ortiz’s competitive decline, high price tag and especially his always-combative relationship with the UFC, it was easy to see the matchup with Bader as a way to shut “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” up and perhaps drive his stock down before any potential free agency. Whatever the reasons, Bader, who was a Top 10 light heavyweight whose only loss had been to Jon Jones, entered the Octagon as a whopping -600 favorite.
Of course, Ortiz upset the applecart that evening in a huge way. After a few tense early exchanges on the feet, Ortiz caught Bader with a big overhand right, dropping him in his tracks. Bader recovered quickly as Ortiz looked for the finish and grabbed a single-leg. Ortiz countered with a guillotine and jumped guard instantly. The choke was tight and after a brief struggle, Bader tapped. It was all over at 1:56 of the first round, as Ortiz jumped up with glee and performed his trademark “grave digger” routine. It had been so long since he had won in the Octagon that many of the fans watching had probably never seen it before.
The upset was thrilling and created a huge buzz, but ultimately changed almost nothing. Ortiz promptly resumed his losing ways, dropping three more fights in the UFC before heading to Bellator MMA, where he managed a minor career renaissance built around fighting competitively appropriate foes such as Stephan Bonnar and Chael Sonnen, and even got some hollow vengeance on onetime tormentor Chuck Liddell. Conversely, Bader simply dusted himself off, won 10 of his next 13 UFC fights and then jumped to Bellator himself, where he became a simultaneous champion in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.