by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
In it’s heyday, Team Punishment was the top of the food chain in mixed martial arts. Founder Tito Ortiz plans to reform his fight team and return it to its former glory when Team Punishment fighters held the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight and heavyweight titles.
“I have some really, really good guys. I’m really focusing right now on getting back to where I was four years ago, four or five years ago when we had Rampage (Quinton Jackson) and everybody else, Ricco Rodriguez and everybody together,” Ortiz told MMAWeekly Radio.
“I’m going to do it again. Ricco is actually training with me now. I’ve got Mark Munoz from Sacramento training with me right now. I’ve got Carlo Prater from Texas who is training with me now. I’m going to start focusing on this. I’m going to start doing it. I really feel like I’m getting back to where I was before and surrounding myself with great people, great fighters. I’m going to do this.”
Ortiz plans to expand Team Punishment to all weight classes and once again make it one of the premier training camps in MMA.
“I’m going to find a guy in each weight class from 155 to heavyweight, and try to get the best I possibly can. The brand of Team Punishment is a worldwide known brand, and we’re known to punish our opponents. You’ve got to get the best fighters to do that, so I’m going to go across the United States and go across possibly Europe and try to find some of the best fighters and bring them around Team Punishment. I’m going to start the team again.”
For the past few years, building his fight team is something that hasn’t garnered Ortiz’s focus. On May 24 at UFC 84, he will be dialed in on Lyoto Machida, whom he says will be his last opponent as a contracted fighter for the UFC. As he prepares to wrap-up his tenure with the promotion, it appears that he is finally ready to restore his fight team.
“I’m going to go out and find the superstars. I’m going to find the guys who like to succeed as a business and as a fight team,” said the former UFC light heavyweight champion. “I haven’t focused on that in the last few years because I’ve been trying to deal with my demons and ending another chapter in my life. I just want to move on to a different chapter.
“All the negative stuff is gone, and all it is now is focusing on the positive stuff, and to build a new Team Punishment is the first step to that.”