by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
It was a big announcement, if not an expected announcement, on Friday when UFC President Dana White declared on a media conference call that Tito Ortiz had signed a new contract to return to the promotion.
In announcing Ortiz’s return, White commented on the fighter’s contract, “Tito Ortiz will retire in the UFC… He’s coming into the UFC, fighting the best 205-pounders in the world, period.”
Though nothing is set, White has a first opponent in mind, “We’re talking about Tito versus Mark Coleman in (Tito’s) first fight.” And Coleman doesn’t turn down fights added the brash head of the UFC.
But although Ortiz had back surgery last year that has healed up well, according to him, he’s probably a few months off from him stepping back into the Octagon.
“I’m looking around towards November or December (to fight),” said Ortiz, who wasn’t coy about what he’s returning for. “I’m coming full force. I want to get the title back.”
Since he last fought in the UFC, a losing effort to current light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in May of 2008, Ortiz has been close to signing with several other promotions. First it was EliteXC, then Affliction, and most recently Strikeforce.
He told MMAWeekly.com that he was very near closing the deal with the San Jose, Calif., based promotion, but there was a major stumbling block that eventually made his return to the UFC a more attractive proposition.
“It’s about competition,” he stated several times. “I love Scott (Coker, Strikeforce’s CEO)… but who do I fight over there? I want to fight the best guys in the world. I think my fans deserve it, me with my 100-percent back. I want the light heavyweight title around my waist again.”
And with the UFC expanding around the globe, Ortiz already has his sites set on moving out into the world with the promotion, “My next step, I’d love to fight in Mexico City. I’d love to be the headliner.”
Ortiz and White both stated that their beef with each other over the years has been largely personal, just “butting heads.” But both declared that they were ready to “move forward,” as indicated by the former UFC light heavyweight champion’s return to the promotion that he helped build.
“I’m not saying that Tito and I will never disagree on anything again,” commented White, “but I don’t think Tito and I are ever going to go down the road that we did before. I think we’re at a place in this thing now that we can talk and figure it out.”
One thing that has always been of great concern to Ortiz is feeling that he was appreciated, that value was placed upon his presence. And now, it appears he feels that reassurance.
“(Lorenzo Fertitta, the promotion’s co-owner and CEO) and Dana… they showed me how important I was for their company,” Ortiz stated.
“When I fight in the UFC Octagon, there’s nothing like it, and I don’t want to change it.”