A few days ago the story surfaced in the mainstream media that UFC star Tito Ortiz was healing his wounds vacationing with the mother of his children, ex porn star Jenna Jameson. I think it was on Yahoo! that I saw Tito’s huge head sticking out of a pool smirking that familiar smirk. Life is pretty good!
Tito has been around a long time, and his last fight against Rashad Evans was a good fight. He really needs to take his legacy and not cheapen it by continuing to fight. After all, the argument can be made that Tito is the most important fighter in UFC history.
Tito is one of the rare guys that nearly all his documented fights are in the UFC, and he has seen the dark ages!
His first fights in 1997 are a window to a UFC of time gone by. Joe Silva was there, though Dana White was teaching boxcersize somewhere. It was a 4 man tournament and Tito’s first fight was a mauling of a way overmatched Wes Albritton. In the second fight, Tito lost to Guy Mezger. It was a bit controversial, and would lead to a lot of UFC history between him and the Lion’s Den later.
At the afterfight party, in a small hotel with very few attendee’s, then UFC exec Art Davie lined up the fighters to pay them, and there was tension in the room. Davie handed out little white envelopes, and he skipped Ortiz. You see, as a scholarship wrestler at I recall it was U Cal Dominguez Hills, Tito had fought for free. Tito was drinking beers, and he was angry. Not about not being paid, he was pissed about the loss to Mezger.
The group of guys he was with were even more pissed. At the time, he ran with Tank Abbott, Eddie Ruiz and Carl Herrera (yes he who almost died in the octagon courtesy of Gary Goodridge’s elbows).
Those guys and Mark Coleman wound up brawling at the party with Carlos Barreto, Wallid Ismael and Vitor Belfort. Tito was smart enough to not be around for that fight, even back then.
The next time Tito showed up at a UFC, he was the cornerman for John Lober at UFC Brazil. It was after his college career, and he was definitely on his way back to the UFC, but he was smart enough that he was not going to fight for free anymore.
Many would say Chuck Lidell is the sports biggest all time star, and they may be right. But it was because Ortiz fought a war against Bohlander, Mezger, Frank Shamrock and the Lion’s Den and built himself up to be a star. When Chuck beat Ortiz, Ortiz had created the biggest UFC persona to date, and Chuck had something of value to take.
Tito is an icon, and it is because he has always been smart at handling his business. Though a few fat paydays more may be a temptation, he needs to protect his legacy and retire now. It would be a shame to continue letting his record slip closer and closer to .500 and for him not to get the credit he deserves. Stay smart Tito, retire now.