Off the Hook - By Joe Reilly

UFC 47 Profile: Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz, a man, who has an impressive resume in Mixed Martial Arts to say the least. This man has fought the who’s who of MMA in his weight class. Before you even get on to everyone he’s fought, check out some of the fighters he’s beaten. He beat Lion’s Den members Jerry Bohlander and Guy Mezger back to back at UFC 18 and 19 respectively. Since then Tito has had big wins over PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva, Japanese legend and Pancrase veteran Yuki Kondo, the tough Texan Evan Tanner, world class wrestler Vladimir Matyushenko and the very first UFC Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock to name a few…

Name: Tito Ortiz
Nickname: The Huntington Beach Bad Boy
UFC record: (W – L – D): 9 – 3 – 0
PRIDE record: 0 – 0 – 0
Overall MMA record: 10 – 3 – 0
Height: 6’2
Weight: 205 lbs
Discipline: Submission Fighting
Birth Date: 23/01/1975
Fighting out of: Huntington Beach, California

Tito Ortiz, a man, who has an impressive resume in Mixed Martial Arts to say the least. This man has fought the who’s who of MMA in his weight class. Before you even get on to everyone he’s fought, check out some of the fighters he’s beaten. He beat Lion’s Den members Jerry Bohlander and Guy Mezger back to back at UFC 18 and 19 respectively. Since then Tito has had big wins over PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva, Japanese legend and Pancrase veteran Yuki Kondo, the tough Texan Evan Tanner, world class wrestler Vladimir Matyushenko and the very first UFC Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock to name a few.

Tito has also fought other legends of the sport, where he just came up short. Tito suffered his first loss at UFC 13 to Ken Shamrock’s long time protégé Guy Mezger. To be fair to Tito on this loss, it was his first UFC event, he was basically a straight college wrestler and actually controlled most of the fight by most people’s account. It wasn’t until the fight was stopped briefly to examine a cut Guy Mezger had suffered where Tito actually lost the edge. Tito had controlled the pace of the fight and looked to have the edge over Mezger.

After the blood stoppage, both men went at it once again until Tito made a mistake due to inexperience more than anything else, he left his head open for too long allowing Mezger to capitalise with a Guillotine choke. A frustrated Ortiz tapped out only then realising his mistake. That was UFC 13 back in 1997.

The following year however, Tito had gained some more experience with a win over Jeremy Screeton at a smaller local MMA show. By 1999, Tito was back in the UFC, as he went up against tough Lion’s Den member Jerry Bohlander. Tito showed some impressive dominance by winning the fight by TKO in ground and pound fashion. This fight had made a big statement. Not only had Tito returned to the Octagon and won, but he had made a point to Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den that he was back and he wanted another shot at Guy Mezger. By the next UFC show, Tito had his wish, a rematch with Guy Mezger. Going into the fight Tito had expressed that he wasn’t pleased with certain things that Mezger had said since their last fight. Mezger insisted that it wasn’t personal, just business.

Well, when fight time was upon us, we saw who meant business. The fight ended up with Tito taking Mezger’s back and hammering away with his fists to the sides of Mezger’s head. Mezger continued to lay in the same position without offering any sign of intelligently defending himself, therefore ‘Big’ John McCarthy, the referee on hand stopped the fight, which gave Tito the victory by TKO.

If it wasn’t a slap in the face to the Lion’s Den already that there two top guys in the division lost back to back to Tito Ortiz, the post fight shenanigans from Ortiz certainly was. Tito made a statement by giving the Lion’s Den corner the finger by flipping them off. If that didn’t make Lion’s Den leader Ken Shamrock pissed enough, the following was the icing on the cake. Tito, immediately after flipping the corner off put on a t-shirt saying “Gay Mezger’s my bitch”.

The irate Ken Shamrock climbed up on the cage from the outside and verbally scolded Tito Ortiz for his actions. Much of what he said exactly couldn’t be made out by people watching on PPV, but Ken had expressed that he was clearly upset by Tito’s actions. The referee had to carry Tito away from Ken Shamrock to prevent any physical altercation between the two.

At this point Tito had created many fans and also many haters. However, many agreed that it was the year of Tito Ortiz. The only one thing that was getting in Tito’s way to make this official was the UFC Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock. Up until now, Shamrock had proved himself to be the best Middleweight fighter in the world leaving a trail of defeated opponents behind him. Even though Frank was the younger brother of Ken, in reality there wasn’t much of Ken’s animosity towards Tito crossing over into Frank’s mind.

The UFC tried to make an issue out of it claiming that Frank would try and restore some honour to the Lion’s Den by defeating Ortiz, but the fact was Frank had since left the Lion’s Den to train with other people such as Maurice Smith to form the American Kickboxing Academy. When the actual fight went down at UFC 22, most of the fight took place on the ground with Tito in the guard of Frank Shamrock. Tito tried to work his ground and pound tactics, but Frank was working well off his back neutralising most of Tito’s offence.

As the fight went on eventually both men made it back to their feet. Tito was visibly tired and Frank Shamrock just start bouncing around the place like he had reserved all of his energy for this one moment. He pounced on Ortiz and repeatedly bashed him in the head with hammer fists until Tito gave up signalling the end of the fight. Frank has said since the fight that he always prided himself on conditioning and he knew that Tito would tire quicker than he would, which he used as his strategy to win.

After this fight Tito showed more grace by putting on a Frank Shamrock t-shirt and he gave him plenty of props for his impressive victory. Soon after this fight Frank retired his championship claiming that he had beaten all the top guys in the division. He also was getting married and wanted to put his time into that.

After this defeat Tito went back to the drawing board and came back better than ever in the year 2000. He went up against Wanderlei Silva next. The fight was a good battle. Silva actually had a moment were he looked very dangerous by coming at Tito with a flurry of knees, but Tito got out of his range backing off completely in a 180 degree turn and fled to the other side of the Octagon. Tito soon regained his composure and took Silva down and controlled him for the remainder of the fight warranting a win by Judge’s decision, which made Tito the UFC Middleweight Champion.

After finally winning the championship, Tito went on to beat Yuki Kondo later in the year by neck crank. In 2001, he beat Evan Tanner and Elvis Sinosic in dominating fashion. That same year he also pulled out a decision victory over Vladimir Matyushenko.

By 2002, Tito was still the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (formerly the Middleweight Championship) after showing nothing, but dominance throughout the division since his loss to Frank Shamrock three years earlier. By Summer 2002, the Light Heavyweight division got really heated up. Chuck Liddell had been storming though the other contenders within the division and he had finally established himself as the undisputed no. 1 contender by defeating awesome striker Vitor Belfort by judge’s decision.

After that fight Tito Ortiz came into the Octagon and said he couldn’t wait to beat Chuck Liddell, but he had one thing to do before facing him and that was to face Ken Shamrock first to finally settle a three year grudge in the octagon. Tito Ortiz agreed to put the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on the line against Ken Shamrock at UFC 40 at the end of 2002.

Meanwhile, Chuck Liddell could have objected to the fight happening given the fact that he was the rightful no. 1 contender, but he didn’t, he stepped aside and agreed to wait and fight the winner of Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock. When it came nearer to UFC 40, Chuck Liddell decided that he wanted to fight at the event. Zuffa (the owners of the UFC) advised him that he did not have to do so, but he put his number 1. contendership on the line against Renato ‘Babulu’ Sobral at UFC 40.

At UFC 40, Chuck Liddell knocked out Babulu in the first round of their fight. Chuck Liddell then pointed out that he just wanted the title and no matter who he faced, Tito or Ken, he was knocking them out. Later on that night Tito and Ken finally squared up. Tito ended up dominating the fight and after three rounds Shamrock was unable to continue.

After Tito’s victory speech, Jeff Osborne reiterated the status of Chuck Liddell as the number one contender. Tito acknowledged the fact, but claimed they’d have to renegotiate things because he and Chuck Liddell were friends and fighting wasn’t worth the money he was getting paid. UFC 41 was on the horizon for early 2003.

By UFC 41, Chuck Liddell was calling out Tito Ortiz and Tito Ortiz said he had some injuries healing, At UFC 42 it was announced that Chuck Liddell would be facing Randy Couture at UFC 43 for the UFC Interim Light Heavyweight Champion. Tito claimed he couldn’t fight at UFC 42 due entertainment commitments and he couldn’t fight at UFC 43 as he had organised a grappling tournament in Huntington Beach that clashed with the dates.

Considering that Chuck was due a title shot and Tito hadn’t already stepped up to face him, the UFC claimed that both Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell would face each other for the championship. Both men fought and Randy Couture shocked everybody by decisively beating Liddell by TKO after fully mounting Liddell and ground and pounding his way to victory. Randy Couture became the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion at 39 years of age.

Randy gave an open challenge to Tito Ortiz to come fight him for the championship. So, it was pretty much signed, sealed and delivered and both men arranged to fight at UFC 44. Tito claimed he was still the champion and that Randy’s title was bogus, while Randy claimed that Tito didn’t face the number one contender, while he did and he beat him. So the show would be titled UFC 44: Undisputed.

Going into the fight, Tito claimed there was no way he’d lose to a 40-year-old man and that no matter what Chuck Liddell was next. After five rounds of sheer dominance, Randy Couture stood up and celebrated. When the judge’s decision was revealed, we found out that Randy had won every round, which nobody would have disputed before the decision was issued.

Tito showed an act of class by putting the championship around the waist of Randy Couture, as Randy had retained his championship. Tito was overwhelmed with emotion after losing the fight. By UFC 46 earlier in January of this year, the UFC officially promoted an upcoming fight between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell at UFC 47 in April. Both men even had a showdown in the ring with Joe Rogan acting as a mediator. Both men said their pieces, but Ortiz maintained that he wasn’t ducking Chuck Liddell up until now, he simply didn’t want to hurt a friend.

Ortiz also said that it annoyed him that Chuck thought he was ducking him, so he finally wants to step up and face him at UFC 47: It’s On! in April. The fight is signed and official now, so two former friends will become the two baddest enemies on the earth when they face each other in the Octagon in a Light Heavyweight bout of 3 five-minute rounds. Tito claims that because it is not a five round championship fight, he gets to push himself that bit harder because he doesn’t need to reserve his energy for an extra two rounds.

It’s unknown whether Tito will decide to stand up with Chuck or try and take him down and work some ground and pound, but we know that Chuck Liddell intends on going in there and knocking out Tito Ortiz. Tito has said that he will come right at Chuck either way and Chuck claims if Tito does that he will get knocked out. Tito also claims that he doesn’t care if he wins or loses, he just wants to hurt Chuck Liddell. What will Tito Ortiz do when he steps back into the octagon to finally face Chuck Liddell? Only time will answer that.

What will be next for Tito Ortiz after this fight? Well, Tito has claimed that he wants to fight Lee Murray after that at UFC 48 in June or July, but he insists that he is not looking past Chuck Liddell at all. Only way to find out what will happen is to watch UFC 47.

Joe Reilly

[Note: Photo credited to]