Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011 | 5:30 p.m.
Dana White fireside chat part 1
Dana White fireside chat part 2
- UFC 140 breakdown, betting odds and picks
- Lyoto Machida thankful for unforeseen opportunity at UFC 140
- UFC 140’s Mark Hominick feels like ‘an overnight success’ after last fight
- Frank Mir has ‘unfinished business’ with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 140
- UFC 140: A glance at the pay-per-view card headlined by Jon Jones, Frank Mir
- Jon Jones will fight Lyoto Machida at UFC 140
- Long journey to UFC 133 pays off for Rashad Evans
- Submission victory helps Tito Ortiz revive career
- Tito Ortiz isn't ready to call it quits
- UFC 140 section
- All MMA/boxing coverage
TORONTO — Tito Ortiz gained an eye-opening experience from the ultimatum he faced earlier this year.
UFC President Dana White wanted Ortiz to retire after going winless for four years, but the 36-year old former light heavyweight champion was adamant he had something left.
“Tito begged me for one more fight,” White recalled Thursday.
White relented and told Ortiz his last chance would come against Ryan Bader at UFC 132. Ortiz, of course, pulled off the upset of the year and submitted Bader in the first round at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Ortiz succeeded in prolonging his career, but also realized he didn’t want to find himself in that position again. Ortiz, one of mixed martial art’s most infamous characters, didn’t want anyone to force him out of the sport.
That’s part of the reason why Ortiz (16-9-1 MMA, 15-9-1 UFC) has announced his intentions for the rest of his career leading into Saturday’s UFC 140 pay-per-view bout against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC). Including this weekend, Ortiz plans to fight only twice more before retiring.
“One of the reasons I’ve done it also is my family,” Ortiz said. “I have three beautiful little boys.”
Ortiz has 2-year old twin boys with longtime girlfriend Jenna Jameson and a 7-year old from a previous marriage. He said he had missed too much of their youth to focus on fighting and wanted to change that going forward.
Don’t expect any interference from White.
“I think it’s the right idea,” White said.
Ortiz already shared the details on what he’s hoping for in his last fight. He’d like to appear on the annual Memorial Day weekend card in Las Vegas next year.
More important than the date, however, is the opponent. Ortiz would like to put the final chapter in a trilogy with Forrest Griffin.
Ortiz and Griffin have fought to two split decisions in the past. Ortiz won at UFC 59 and Griffin emerged victorious at UFC 108.
“Timing is a big factor in those things,” White said. “If Forrest wants the fight as bad as Tito does, then why not?”
Ortiz’s decision doesn’t come as a major surprise. In a performance White called “very good”, Ortiz lost to Rashad Evans via second round TKO at UFC 133.
The fight showed that while Ortiz is talented enough to remain relevant in the 205-pound division, he’s not going to make another run at the title. Ortiz is at peace with that and feels he’s proven everything he needs to in the UFC.
“It’s being an inspiration and showing with hard work and dedication, with determination, you can achieve anything in life,” Ortiz said. “I want to be an inspiration in people’s lives.”
Ortiz has reached new levels of popularity in 2011. Although he was one of the UFC’s biggest draws for years, he polarized fans with his “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” persona and got into frequent tiffs with White.
But Ortiz mellowed out in recent years and became beloved by UFC fans. He even changed his nickname to “The People’s Champion”.
“I think my three boys, as they get older, they’d love to know their dad as ‘The People’s Champ’ instead of ‘The Bad Boy,’” Ortiz said.
White doesn’t understand “The People’s Champion” moniker, but learned to accept it. He’s not looking to argue with Ortiz anymore.
Ortiz wants to stay involved in the sport through his Punishment Athletics brand, but his fighting days are numbered.
“Tito has changed,” White said. “He does carry himself in a different way now.”