by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” Tito Ortiz, completes his contractual obligation with the Ultimate Fighting Championship when he steps in the octagon at UFC 84 against Lyoto Machida. Ortiz spoke with MMAWeekly about his training, his focus and his match up with the undefeated Brazilian.
“I’m really healthy. I feel great. I feel really, really good,” said Ortiz. “I’m excited about this fight. I’m very focused. This fight means the world to me. I’m not just fighting myself. I’m fighting for every one of those fans, the Tito Ortiz fans that support me.”
As excited as Ortiz is for his showdown with Machida, it wasn’t the fight he wanted for his final bout in the UFC. “It doesn’t matter who I fight to me. In the beginning I thought the Rashad Evans deal was supposed to happen,” said the former UFC light heavyweight champion. “They built it, it was going to happen, and that’s what I expected. And I know a lot of fans expected that.”
“The UFC has their own game plan. They have their own ideas of how they want to run things, and I turned it down at first, saying why would I want to fight Lyoto? There’s no reason to. But then I just started going on, and I was like, I don’t really care. Whoever you want me to fight, I’ll fight. That’s really what it came down to. No diss toward Lyoto. He’s a great fighter, undefeated, but I thought they were building the Rashad Evans fight. I wanted to fight Rashad again because I thought I beat him the first time.”
With the intention of leaving the UFC and shopping the market for the highest bidder following his UFC 84 bout, Ortiz doesn’t feel any pressure going into his final UFC fight despite the added leverage a win would bring to his negotiating power with another organization.
“I have no pressure,” said the California native. “This is like the same thing as when I fought Vitor Belfort. I have no pressure on me. I have nothing to lose. I have no contract left, so I have nothing to lose. There ain’t nothing after this with the UFC for me. Finally I’m going to be free. I’m able to do what I want, I think. My hands are not going to be tied anymore. I’m not going to feel like I have a ball and chain on me.”
He continued, “I really think I’m going to succeed after this fight, no matter what. In my mind, I know I’m going to win. There’s no doubt in my mind, without a doubt. I know for a fact that I’m going to beat Lyoto Machida. He doesn’t know it yet, but when the bell rings and the referee says, let’s get it on, I’ll be dumping him on his head, and he’ll feel the real wrath of Tito Ortiz.”
Once known for his conditioning and stamina, Ortiz hasn’t lived up to his reputation in recent bouts, getting fatigued sometimes as early as the second round.
“I started camp four months prior to the fight. That’s the first time I’ve started this early,” Ortiz told MMAWeekly.com. I was really focused on getting my core strength very, very strong. My back is really strong. My stomach is really strong. You’ll see at the weigh-ins how shredded I am. I’m in great shape.”
“I’ve actually picked it up. I’m running four miles a day. I’ve never done that in my career, ever. I really think I’ve let a lot of my fans down by getting tired after the second round. I’ve never a person like that to get tired. I’ve always pushed full-force for five, five minute rounds. We’re training six, six minute rounds with 30 seconds rests. I’m up here at altitude doing it, so I’m going to be ready for three, five minute rounds without a doubt.”
“It just feels great to be able to train for once and be able to wrestle the way I used to wrestle, spar the way I used to spar, and not have to go through three days of training and have to take four days off,” added Ortiz. “That was really, really bad. It was hindering my fighting style, I believe. I’m very focused, no injuries, and I’m able to focus my time on training.”
Asked about the match up with Machida, Ortiz commented, “He’s never faced anyone like me, ever. All the fights he’s had have been against guys that stand back and let him do all the striking. Three words for Machida: feel the pressure. He’s going to feel the pressure.”
“Everybody knows how I fight. Lyoto knows how I fight, and let’s see if he can handle the pressure. Let’s see if he can handle 16,000 fans screaming. I know there’s going to be about 16,000, probably 15,999 that will be screaming about Tito and there will be that one person that’s hating on me. Let’s see if he can handle the pressure.”
Ortiz went on to boast, “It’s my octagon. I’ve been doing it for eleven years. I’m very focused. I’m hungry. I have everything on the line right now, and nothing to lose. I have a lot of people to prove wrong. It’s me versus the company.”
“Expect fireworks on May 24, live on pay-per-view, when I beat down Lyoto Machida.”