by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
The ‘Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Tito Ortiz, who is the #9 light heavyweight in the MMAWeekly World MMA Rankings, spoke with MMAWeekly about his UFC 73 draw against ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans, the point deduction for grabbing the fence, and the rematch.
“I was just disgusted with myself because I couldn’t finish the fight. In the second round I was going for a takedown against the fence and I kind of pulled a little muscle in my back it felt like, and my legs weren’t the same after that. I got fatigued a lot quicker than I normally do, and it’s just one of those things. It just didn’t seem like it was an on night for me. I just didn’t feel on. You know? I got to see the fight once and I thought I won the fight. I was dominant. I was aggressive, but I guess fighting in California and being the bad boy, I’m going take as much as I possibly can, and I guess I’ve got to live up to the moniker of being the Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” Ortiz told MMAWeekly.
Asked about any injuries suffered in the fight with Rashad and his physical condition since the fight, Ortiz said, “My back is still bothering me, but my eye healed up fine. The stitches healed up fine. I’m doing good. I’m just kind of waiting for my back to be 100% so I can get back into training and start working out for Rashad and Ortiz 2.”
The back injury is reoccurring, and it’s an injury Tito has had to deal with for years. Ortiz explained, “It was right before the Randy fight when I got it, and I think I just re-aggravated it again when I fought Rashad. It just seems like it’s a nagging injury that will never go away. And people say you’ve got to suck it up and fight anyways, but I really see it as I couldn’t really hang out with my son the last few days the way I wanted to because I was having such back problems. That just reminds me that I am human man. For me to train through this stuff, is it going to hurt me in the future?”
Tito added, “It seems like it doesn’t go away. I was able to steer away from it almost all of last year and about in July it got 100% better. I fought three times after that. It felt good when I was fighting Liddell. I had no problems with it, and then probably about a month before this fight I had another bulging disc where I had to go down and get MRIs, ended up injecting kind of like anti inflammatory just for the swelling on my disc so I was able to wrestle again. I went from being bed ridden until three days later being able to wrestle again, being able to run again. It was just one of those things were either I fight or I pull out…I didn’t want to let down a lot of fans, so I had to stick with the fight and take a big risk. It was just one of those things man, I was going to fight no matter what…For me, I love fighting. A lot of my fans love seeing me compete, and I want to give them what they want, so I don’t want to let them down.”
In the opening moments of the fight Ortiz was able to take Evans down, and had Rashad down several times throughout the bout. “I think people think that Rashad is such a great wrestler because he wrestled in college. You’ve got to win matches, you know, and he’s actually a 167 pounder bulking up to be 205, and he’s really a smaller guy than people see,” commented the former UFC light heavyweight champion.
A point was taken away from Ortiz in the second round for grabbing the fence which led to the fight being ruled a draw. Discussing the draw, Ortiz stated, “It is very frustrating. I just looked at it, I mean in my mind it was a win. It might have been a draw on paper or whatever, but to me I know it was a win. The second time around I’m going to train just as hard. I’m going to do exactly the same things. He knows what I have, and I know what he has, and he doesn’t have much. It’s a bad match up for him all the way around. I’m excited for the next time around. I could get frustrated over it. I could look at it and I could feel like it was a loss, but it was a win to me. To me, being injured after the second round and still fighting the way I did, it’s just one of those things where I just look at it for the future and me and him competing against each other, and my hand is going to be raised. He knows I won. It just plain and simple. All the fans know I won. I guess they’re going to get a Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans 2.”
Ortiz continued, “Rashad got an even match with me getting a point deducted. I usually, I think there’s a warning before they deduct. There was no warning, and Rashad grabbed the fence a few times himself, and he never got a warning. He never got a point taken away from him which I look at it as it’s just a way for them to get a rematch. You know? I think they didn’t want Rashad to have his first loss, and in my mind I believe that Rashad lost. Rashad knows he lost.”
Uncharacteristically for Ortiz, he looked to gas in the third round. Discussing his conditioning, Ortiz said, “I was going like, wow, what the hell? Am I getting older? I mean what is it? I felt good during training, and everything felt great. I had my back injury. That had a little bit to do with it I think. I didn’t really feel my legs were as strong as normal, and I started second guessing myself, and that’s something that I shouldn’t be doing, and the next time I won’t be doing. I just seemed like I was always chasing Rashad down. He was like running away from me the whole time. I was trying to chase him down, and he stood his ground a couple of time which I kind of give it to him. The second time around it’s going to be a little bit better. I’ve just got to continue training. I think what kind of hurt me too was taking that seven months off. After I fought Liddell there was this big time lapse where I wasn’t doing anything, and I’ve got to make sure this time around that I stay in the shape I’m in and continue to train and continue to stay in great shape.”
During the post-fight press conference Tito and Rashad engaged in a verbal exchange. Questioned about it, Tito answered, “I just came in to do my press part, and he had the balls to say that he beat me, and that I knew that he beat me. I was just like, well, you were lucky you got saved at the end of the second round. Your ass would have been choked out, and you also got saved by a few other things. It was just one of those deals. He went, well you gabbed the fence the whole time, and I was like I grabbed the fence one and got a point taken away. You grabbed the fence four times and didn’t get no points taken away. It went back and forth, back and forth. Both of us know there’s going to be a rematch. He wants a rematch, and I told him I want a rematch. Dana White said there’s going to be a rematch, and we’ll bring the fight when it comes. Hopefully this time Rashad won’t run away the way he did the first time.”
During the same press conference that saw Ortiz and Evans go back and forth with words, it was announced that the two would rematch October 20, in Cincinnati, Ohio but that’s not set in stone. Ortiz commented, “I haven’t agreed to anything, so I guess it’s just a matter of getting the paperwork done and seeing what exactly the time will be for my fight. Me fighting in California, I expected to be in my hometown, and it feels like it’s not my hometown. I feel like the visitor every time I fight there. When I fought Forrest [Griffin], when I fought Rashad and with the judges doing what they did. I think the place for me to fight is in Las Vegas. That’s my hometown. That’s where I feel more comfortable competing at. We’ll just see what happens in the future.”