On January 21st, UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz will step into the cage for the final time when he squares off against former UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen for a highly anticipated grudge match. Ahead of the fight, both men have continued to trade verbal jabs at one another, with both men promising to leave the other a bloody mess come January 21st.
In addition to the verbal blows however, Ortiz has been very open about the fact that after 31 professional fights, his fight with Sonnen being his 32nd, it is time for him to retire from MMA permanently. The 42 year old Huntington Beach native spoke on the Bellator 170 conference call to discuss the situation, saying:
“This retirement is well due,” Ortiz said on a Bellator 170 conference call. “Twenty years of competition has pretty much, I’d still be fighting if it wasn’t for my surgeries.”
“My biggest enemy has been my surgeries,” Ortiz said. “I’ve had an ACL replaced in my left knee, ACL replaced in my right knee, 50 percent of my meniscus taken out of my right knee, lower back fusion, C-6, C-7 fused in my neck, C-5, C-4 disk replacement, C-4, C-3 fused. I have 26, 27 concussions, hundreds of stitches, I’ve been through the grinder. My biggest enemy has been my body.”
“I want to be remembered as a fighter with integrity,” Ortiz said. “A fighter who did it this way, who has respect because he wanted to push the envelope for the fighters.”
After a rough couple years in the UFC, which saw Ortiz go 1-6 from 2008 to 2012, the former UFC champion experienced a bit of a career resurgence under the Bellator MMA banner as he went 2-0 in 2014, marking the first time he had strung together two consecutive wins in nearly a decade. Unfortunately, when he stepped into the cage to contest for the Bellator MMA title, he was submitted in the very first round.