Ortiz will face Forrest Griffin at UFC 148 in what will be his final fight (Photo by Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com).
Former Light Heavyweight Champion Becomes Ninth Inductee
The UFC has officially confirmed that former Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz (16-10-1) will be inducted into its Hall of Fame during the day on July 7th in Las Vegas, where he will later face Forrest Griffin (18-7) that evening in the last fight of his decorated career. The longest reigning Light Heavyweight Titleholder in promotion history, Ortiz will become the ninth ever inductee to join the UFC Hall of Fame.
“It is a huge honor to be recognized as one of the greatest fighters of all time by the UFC,” Ortiz remarked. “To be inducted into the Hall of Fame is final proof that all the hard work and dedication, all the pain and sacrifices, were all worth it. To be able to walk to the Octagon one last time as an official UFC Hall of Fame level fighter is going to be humbling and awesome. I’m very grateful to have this opportunity to end my career on such a high like this.”
Over a 15-year career that saw its fair share of ups and downs, Ortiz was quick to recognize the loyalty he remained to see from the UFC and those around him despite what happened during his time in the sport.
“I want to thank my family for all their love and support, and my fans for sticking with me through the bad times when being a Tito Ortiz fan wasn’t the coolest thing to be,” he humbly stated. “Finally, I want to thank Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White for giving me so many opportunities over the years, and for securing the future of the sport I love and have dedicated my life to.”
Ortiz made his mixed martial arts debut at UFC 13 as part of a four-man lightweight tournament (division now known as welterweight), winning his opening bout against Wes Albritton by TKO stoppage before falling to Guy Mezger in the finals by submission. He then went on to emerge victorious in nine of his next 10 fights, winning the UFC Light Heavyweight crown and successfully defending it five times during that span. He then lost his belt to Randy Couture at UFC 44 but eventually earned another crack at the title against then-champion Chuck Liddell at UFC 56. He was stopped via strikes by Liddell in that bout, starting what turned out to be a nearly five-year winless stretch. He snapped that streak by tapping out Ryan Bader via guillotine choke in 2011, earning Submission of the Night honors. Since that victory, Ortiz has suffered defeats to former champion Rashad Evans and Brazilian veteran Antônio Rogério Nogueira.
Ortiz now looks to finish his career on a high note when he meets Griffin for the final episode of their trilogy at UFC 148, with both fighters owning split decision wins over their first two encounters.
“My name will probably always be linked with guys like Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell and especially Ken Shamrock,” Ortiz said. “But the fights with Forrest were as good and competitive as any of them. When I first fought him, he was inexperienced and made a name for himself in doing so well against me. The next time we fought, I was supposed to be over the hill, and I showed that I wasn’t finished by long shot.
“Now, I just want to prove I was the better fighter all along by winning the rubber match. I don’t want to go out on a sour note. I want everyone’s last image of me to be me in the center of the Octagon with my hand raised.”
UFC President Dana White admits times were not always great between himself and Ortiz, but he confirmed that he is an instrumental part in the history of the organization.
“Everyone knows the story of me and Tito and all the things that went on between us,” White commented. “A lot of it wasn’t fun at the time, but all that controversy and craziness is now part of the story of the UFC, and there’s no question that in his prime he was a huge star and one of the greats of his era.
“You can’t write the story of this era of mixed martial arts without Tito Ortiz, and that’s why he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He’s been in the UFC for 15years – and sticking around that long is an achievement in itself – and now he’s down to just 15 minutes at UFC 148. Believe me, I know how proud and stubborn this guy is, and I expect him to use everything he has left as a fighter to go out as a winner at UFC 148.”
UFC Chairman & CEO Lorenzo Fertitta also spoke about the importance Ortiz has had to the sport.
“Tito is part of the fabric of our sport and of the history of our company,” he remarked. “He’s given his life to mixed martial arts and gave all of us some hugely memorable moments as both a fighter and a personality outside the Octagon. He was a lock to go into the UFC Hall of Fame at some point, and I’m happy we could make this happen now so he gets to enter the Octagon for the final time as a reigning Hall of Famer. I think this will be an emotional goodbye for Tito and one final special moment for his fans.”
The main card of UFC 148 gets started on PPV at 10:00 p.m. on July 7th, with one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history occurring in the feature when UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva defends his title against Chael Sonnen in a rematch of their 2010 pairing. In that bout, Sonnen dominated for over four rounds before being submitted via triangle armbar in the fifth frame.
Video courtesy of the UFC