“Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see. Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it's been.”
Forget his record the last few years. Tito Ortiz stil holds the all-time record for most fights in the UFC (26), the same as Junior Dos Santos, Jon Jones, Carlos Condit, and Jose Aldo combined. And he still holds the all time record for lightheavyweight division title defenses (yes, Lightheavyweight is the UFC's most competitive division).
Tito was the league's first star, when without it it might have died. He has appeared on reality tv and in movies, owns his own wildly popular line of sportswear, and went from being sponsored by Spanky's XXX Playhouse to some of the most lucrative mainstream sponsorships the sport has ever seen.
And he is 37 years old. A rubber match against Forrest Griffin at UFC 148 on July 7 in Las Vegas will be his last.
"I don't know what it's going to feel like to walk out for the last time," Ortiz told MMAjunkie.com. "Step in the octagon for the last time, to walk out of the octagon for the last time. Honestly, man, I don't know what to expect."
"Even signing a bout agreement, I realized that's the last one. It's weird."
"I think with everything I did, I made a mark. I showed guys what a little hard work and inspiration can do.
"I'm thankful God gave me the gifts I've had. I could have done so many things – worse things – as a kid and a man in general. My parents being drug addicts, I look at it as, 'Why am I sitting where I am today?' I think it's through hard work and dedication. It's very inspiring toward people knowing you can achieve anything in this world as long as you stay focused and work super, super hard at it. I'm thankful for that."
"I just turned 37. Couture fought till he was 44 or 45. Do I want to do it, though? I just don't have that hunger in me anymore. It's a business to me now. It's been a business since day one. It's love for the fighting, but it's always a business.
"But I've got three boys to take of now. ... It's time."
"ESPN just came to me and offered me a job as an analyst. But I went to Lorenzo and told him, 'I want to work for you guys.' I want to work with the UFC. I started my career with the UFC. I never had an amateur career. I've been with the UFC since day one in 1997.
"I would love to end it with the UFC."
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