Dotseth’s Blog: Even In Defeat, Ortiz Deserves Credit
What did you think of UFC 133? Maybe it wasn’t the card of the year, and maybe there wasn’t a “Fight of the Year” candidate in the six fights that I watched, but I still liked the card. The knee that Rashad Evans landed on the mid-section of Tito Ortiz was devastating. Ortiz was fighting for the 25th time in the octagon, and I am willing to bet he thought he was ready for anything….except that knee.
The facial expression of Ortiz reminded me of Lee Harvey Oswald shortly after Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. Eyes closed mouth wide open; Ortiz had a look of a guy who knew his night was over. It was a pretty good performance from “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” up until he got the microphone and had to remind all of us how tough he is and how great he is. Shut up Tito!
I like Ortiz a lot because he was one of the major reasons I became a fan of the UFC. I couldn’t wait to watch Ortiz fight Chuck Liddell, Ken Shamrock etc.Then a funny thing happened, I started to pay attention to his interviews. Nothing wears me out more than a guy who has to constantly remind everybody how great he is.
Maybe that is fallout from the constant beat-downs Ortiz has been given at the hands of UFC president Dana White. I think White is pretty funny for the most part, but I think he is guilty of downplaying what Ortiz meant to the growth of MMA.
In the early days of the UFC there were a couple of guys that made me order a pay-per-view broadcast. Those guys were Tito Ortiz and Tank Abbott. Looking back, it’s funny to think of Tank Abbott competing in the same sport as guys like GSP, Cain Velasquez and Anderson Silva. No other sport has had such a drastic improvement in overall talent in such a short period of time. That is great for Zuffa and even better for fans who see great fights between amazing athletes, but that doesn’t change the fact Ortiz and Abbott were responsible for moving the needle in the early days.
I loved Tito’s win over Ryan Bader, because like so many other fans, I gave Ortiz no shot. I thought Bader would crush Ortiz, but instead it was the former Ultimate Fighter winner who was tapping out. It was one of the great upsets in UFC history, and Ortiz deserved his moment in the sun.
He earned more respect for stepping up and taking a fight against the always tough Evans just weeks after the Bader fight. People focus so much on the physical wear and tear, they forget about the mental aspect. Having spent a year covering this sport, I can tell you the mental part is huge.
Ortiz had gone almost five years without a win prior to UFC 132. In that time he was beaten pretty soundly by Matt Hamill, Lyoto Machida and Chuck Liddell. At 36 years of age he was also recovering from serious neck and back injuries.
The feeling of satisfaction Ortiz must have felt on July 2nd had to be off the charts. Here he was with his arm raised after a fight that NOBODY gave him a chance to win. In most cases he would be able to take some time off to relax and reflect. Instead, he was asked to save a major PPV event when Phil Davis had to pull out of the Evans fight due to a knee injury.
Credit to Tito who probably against his better judgment said yes. Ortiz did everything he could against Evans, but he didn’t look close to the guy we all watched a month earlier. Tito looked a little gassed at times and unfortunately Evans wouldn’t allow Ortiz the chance to catch lightning in a bottle for a second straight night.
Tito showed (again) that he’s tough and I am glad his job wasn’t on the line. He earned another chance with the Bader win, and I think he earned another fight when he said yes to fighting Evans. He did the right thing for his employer and deserves to be rewarded…I just hope we don’t have to hear about it for the next three months.