No matter how bright the stage light illuminates a performer at center stage, it’s inevitable that the brightness will eventually fade. Age catches up with everyone.
The curtain may have closed on former UFC light heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Fame inductee Tito Ortiz’s career on Sept. 19 after he was submitted by Liam McGeary for the Bellator 205-pound title.
Ortiz didn’t announce his retirement following the loss, but the 40-year-old sounded as if he’s ready to hang up the gloves.
“As far as me coming back, I’ll wait. I’m just going to chill for a little bit,” he said during the event’s post-fight press conference. “I’m 40 years old. I’ve been doing this (expletive) for 18-and-a-half years.”
“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” made his mixed martial arts professional debut in the UFC in late May 1997. Ortiz’s first fight inside the Octagon was non-paying. He fought for free at UFC 13 in an alternate bout in the under-200-pound tournament. He demolished Wes Albritton in 31 seconds, and the Tito Ortiz era began.
He lost to Guy Mezger in the finals by guillotine choke after replacing Enson Inoue, who couldn’t continue in the tournament after defeating Royce Alger in the opening round. Despite losing in the finals, Ortiz became an instant star.
He captured the light heavyweight championship by defeating Wanderlei Silva at UFC 25 in April 2000. His popularity skyrocketed, and he defended the title five times.
Although he’s had a successful career, injuries have plagued Ortiz. The fight life takes its toll on the body. He’s had back problems, neck problems, knee issues, and has undergone multiple surgeries throughout the years to repair the wear and tear.
“I’ve been through some major surgeries: back surgeries, neck surgery, knee surgeries,” he acknowledged.
Before making the ultimate decision on whether he’ll continue fighting or not, Ortiz wants to take some time to enjoy life.
“I still love training, but I want to hang out with my kids; wake up with them every morning; take them to school; be a dad for a little bit — enjoy life for a little bit.”