Tito Ortiz Ready to Storm the Octagon, Rashad Evans at UFC 133

August 4, 2011
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Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans at UFC 73

Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans at UFC 73

UFC 133 main event fighter Tito Ortiz has been booed and depicted as a villain in mixed martial arts for quite some time.  But one thing no one can take away from the fighter out of Huntington Beach, Calif., is his pioneer status in the sport.

Since he was a young debuting fighter at UFC 13 way back in 1997, the game has changed and grown past a point that anybody expected it to reach.  Segments on ESPN’s Sportscenter and Bud Light commercials are a long way from the days of Cracker Jack box-size venues and sanctioning in a handful of states.

Whether he’s been a villain or a hero, Ortiz has stuck through the growth and still has a marketable name to headline a card.  He’ll make his return to fighting in the Tri-State area this Saturday for the first time in 10 years and notices the obvious changes in the sport as he prepares for his opponent, number one contender Rashad Evans.

“It’s a whole different new business completely,” Ortiz said recently.  “And I’m still at the top of my game and I just can’t wait to go back to the East Coast and fight for all my fans.  And especially in Philly with something that’s a story that I will fulfill it 100 percent and I’m very, very excited. You know, Rashad’s a tough opponent; the number one contender. I’m going to go and I’m going to fight with all my heart and soul and do what I do.  And that’s entertain you and get my (hand raised).”

Ortiz’s career hasn’t come without any bumps in the road.  Most fighters create rivalries with other fighters, which Ortiz has done, but he’s taken it to a whole other level.  His most popular and documented rivalry has been with his boss, UFC president Dana White.

The two have been at each other’s throats for years, now.  Ortiz has even made a habit of making shirts dedicated to how he feels about his employer, wearing them at weigh-ins as public jabs at White.

Tito Ortiz UFC 84 - Dana is my bitch

Tito Ortiz at UFC 84

The infamous “Dana is my b*tch” shirt was the hot fashion for the summer season of 2008.

But like the sport has changed, so has Ortiz’s attitude towards his boss.  A positive attitude seems to be the best description to illustrate Ortiz, nowadays.  The reinforcement he gets from the important sources in his life keep him focused on performing well this weekend and away from dueling with the UFC’s head man.

“I got my surgeries done and I kept my nose to the grindstone,” he said.  “I never doubted myself and I just want to show people that with hard work and dedication you can achieve anything. And I’ll continue doing it each and every day in training.

“And between me and Dana, we’re really, really good. It’s been good.  I’m very, very happy and they support me in positive reinforcement and it’s just making me that much better in the gym. And I love it. I survive on stuff like this. I would’ve (died) for this when I was a kid, man, and it’s just nice to have a positive reinforcement behind you knowing that you’re going to do well and we go out to perform at my highest performance.”

Regarding Ortiz’s UFC 133 opponent, the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has met Rashad Evans once before.  The two first tangled at UFC 73: Stacked, fighting to a draw in the end.  Had it not been for Ortiz grabbing the fence as much as he did in the second round, the scorecards would have showed him winning the bout on points.

Obviously, Ortiz will aim to keep his fingers off the fence this time, but it’s clear that he’s not facing the same Rashad Evans he fought in 2007.  Evans has since won and lost the light heavyweight title and fought the most recent top contenders in the 205-pound division.  All of Evans’ attributes have improved and Ortiz is well aware of that fact.

With the odds stacked against him at UFC 133, Ortiz is relying on his positive attitude and heart to pull out the win.

“I know our first fight, that was such a long time ago,” Ortiz recalled.  “And I made the mistake by grabbing on the fence, and I’m going to try to correct a lot of mistakes that I did, and making sure that I don’t let Rashad get in on me and just try to defend.

“My advantage will be heart, of course, 100 percent. He’s fast; yes, I’ll give him that. His professional skills are good; yes, I’ll give him that.  His boxing skills have gotten better, but I’m prepared. I’m prepared for anything and everything.  And I’m going to go in focused, mentally positive, knowing that my (hand is) going to be raised. I’m not going to explain what I think his strengths are, no reason to. I just kind of did in, I guess, Layman’s terms for you so you kind of understood. But when it comes to fight time I’ll show you how much better I am.”

Just as he was in his match-up with Ryan Bader, Ortiz is the underdog.  But mixed martial arts is about as predictable as the weather.  Not even the best meteorologist can accurately read the forecast 100 percent of the time, but one thing is for sure: Tito Ortiz will storm into the Octagon at UFC 133 on Saturday, Aug. 6, in Philadelphia.

Got something to say? Weigh in with a thought of your own in the comments section below.

Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for MMAWeekly.com.
@Erik_Fontanez on Twitter or e-mail Erik a question or comment.

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  • j-k-martin

    I was never a huge Tito fan but his time on the Ultimate Fighter changed my mind. I don’t think I’m his biggest fan but I am glad he is back in the sport.

  • phrankthetank

    Allow me to say this again, If Tito didn’t grab the fence as much as he did in that first fight he would have been taken down a couple times and would have lost the 2nd round. He “won” that round because evans couldn’t take him down, because he had a deathgrip on the cage. The point deduction didn’t keep him from winning, it kept him from losing.

    • Unador

      100% accurate.
      And I had to listen to Kenny Florian last night say emphatically that Tito would have won that fight if not for the point deduction. And this guy is a fighter. He should know that if Tito wouldn’t have been holding the fence Evans would have taken him down, scoring the take down points, and preventing Tito from staying up and scoring any pts at all.
      Maybe Kenny needs to find something else to do besides comment on MMA in a news broadcasting platform.
      If you want to make the argument that Tito would have managed to neutralize Rashad from the bottom and quickly get back to his feet and still win the round, that’s one thing.
      But to act like Tito was unjustly docked a point for grabbing on to the fence, and that he would have shrugged off the takedown without holding the fence is insulting to Evans, and a demonstration of a complete lack of objectivity and honesty, or at worst, ignorance.
      And quite frankly insulting to the rest of us.
      Tito would have won if not for holding the fence. NO! Tito held the fence so he wouldn’t LOSE! He got lucky with a draw.

  • collideoverme

    I can’t wait! I hope Tito finishes Rashad.

  • BigGuy

    I hope Tito shuts Retard Evan’s mouth!

  • Unador

    I’m not really a big fan of Evans, I think he portrays himself with arrogant superiority. I’m not sure if he does this for ‘show’ or if he really feels that way.
    Tito on the other hand seems to be more disrespectful when he talks his ‘trash’/’hype’. And I don’t see it as much of an act though he does seem to be changing a bit. Maturing maybe? And I’m not really a fan of his either.
    I believe Rashad is the smarter fighter with better stand up. But, his chin may be questionable. Machida put him to sleep after a couple of jabs, and Jackson ( who hits like a truck ) had him in trouble with a head shot.
    Tito took some punishment from Chuck, arguably the hardest puncher in MMA. I don’t see Rashad matching that type of power, so his superior stand up may be neutralized a bit by Tito’s toughnes.
    Rashad seems to be a turtle on his back, and Tito is one of the best for jacking you up from inside your guard.
    Rashad could be a better take down artist, but Tito has displayed some sub skills in his last fight.
    All in all I still think Rashad will get the Victory. He’s the smarter fighter ( imo ) and he seems to have improved more than Tito has improved since their last fight.

  • bajafox

    Hopefully Tito’s gas tank doesn’t run out and he can put Rashad away, being off as long as he has Rashad has to know that ring rust will be a factor.

    • Unador

      Tito is always expected to be in top cardio shape, but he did show some signs of fatigue is some recent fights. Injuries preventing him from training as much as he wanted if I recall accurately.
      Rashad tends to exhibit some heavy breathing in the second and third rounds.
      He has a habit of bouncing back with his hands down and you can see him take some deep deep breaths.
      I think this guy needs to drop all that extra muscle and hit 185lbs. But, I don’t think his ego will let him. He used to be a heavy weight, I think he likes being the big guy. At 5’11” he’s kinda tall for a shortman’s chip on the shoulder attitude about having something to prove agaisnt the big dogs.