Martial Arts has been with our species for thousands of years, but mixed martial arts has only been around for the last 25 years and really, it wasn’t until the Ultimate Fighter reality show that it started to gain some mainstream popularity. Over the past 25 years, though, there have been a few fighters that have been instrumental in putting this sport on the map. Obviously, the Gracie family was instrumental. Ken and Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture, Matt Hughes — the list can go on and on. But for almost as long as the sport has existed, one fighter has captivated the sport of MMA with his charisma and fighting style. For a few years, this man single handily carried the UFC. Now he is definitely on the downside of his career and he is certainly not the fighter that he once was, but every fight fan knows his name and could point him out in a crowd. Over the course of his illustrious career, Tito Ortiz has done it all. Until recently, he was the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history and at one time held many of their records. Though he no longer fights for the UFC, he is still putting asses in the seats for Bellator and proving to the fans that he is still relevant.

On Saturday November 15, 2014 at Bellator 131, “The People’s Champion” Tito Ortiz returns to action against “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonner. Ortiz has only won two fights in the last eight years and one of those victories was over a middleweight; it is hard to say that he is still relevant in the sport, but he is no idiot. Ortiz knows that his time is limited but before retirement beckons, he wants to give the fans everything they want to see. “I’m not going to be fighting forever. I just watched Bernard Hopkins compete at the age of 49 and I have so much respect for that guy. He has been such a great champion but no way. I think I’ll retire when I am 40. I am focused on beating Stephan Bonnar’s ass, but I think I have a fight or two left,” Ortiz told The MMA Corner.

There is no question that over the years Ortiz has captivated fans and pissed off opponents with his ground and pound style in the ring and trash talking style out of the ring, but there have been very few fights for him that were personal. This fight with Bonnar? It’s personal. “I love the fans and I will always fight for the fans and I think that this is a fight that fans want to see, but this is personal. You can’t bring my family into it and say those things about my family and not think that it will get personal. This guy crossed the line by bringing my family into this and talking about them. Talking about my ex-wife and kids, that just shows what kind of class he has and come Saturday I get the opportunity to shut him up.”

There is another reason that this is personal for Tito, and that is because of unfinished business. It’s certainly no secret that Dana White and Tito Ortiz have publicly feuded for years; Tito believes that Bonnar is fighting with an ulterior motive. “Bonnar is Dana White’s ‘hit man’ He sent him over to fight me and to try and end my career, but guess what? That’s not going to happen. The people still want to see me fight and I am going to whoop Bonnar’s ass and going to win the world title and I am going to retire.”
Over his 18-year career Ortiz has done it all, but he also knows that he is not the fighter that he used to be. He is not the same 21-year-old kid that could put his body through hell and still walk the next day. He is 39, has had more back, neck and knee surgeries than most people can imagine and every time he has returned to fight. “I am finally feeling healthy and 100%. I was able to get through this training camp without any injuries and I am ready to fight, but I also know that I will be walking away soon. My kids and my family are the most important thing to me and then the fans and then fighting. I need to make sure that I am healthy for my kids. I want to watch my kids grow up and be a dad because I am all they’ve got.”

Ortiz has nothing left to prove to fans or to the sport, but he does want to prove to himself that he is healed and that he is still a world class fighter. “I still want to be the best and I still train hard and work hard and I plan on winning the Bellator light heavyweight title and retiring as a champion.”

Whether or not Ortiz is able to win Bellator gold, he is already a legend in this sport. His brash style, aggressive fights and impressive record have cemented his legacy — all that’s left is one last belt.

About The Author

Josh Davis
President and Site Director

Josh Davis is the owner and President of The MMA Corner, LLC. He has been a fan of mixed martial arts since seeing UFC 1 in his hometown. In addition to his The MMA Corner responsibilities, Josh is the editor of Scrapp! Fight Magazine. Josh has also written for MMA Unleashed and MMA Sports magazines. Josh also manages some of Colorado's best up and coming fighters and is dedicated to the positive promotion of the sport.