Tito Ortiz: I’m the Last of the Mohicans

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I’m the Last of the Mohicans. Out of the fighters who helped build the UFC from what it was in the 1990s to what it is now in 2011, they’re all gone except for me. Chuck Liddell has retired; Randy Couture has retired. I’m the last man standing, and now everyone thinks Ryan Bader is going to put me down, too.

I’ve been stopped due to punches, but I’ve not been knocked cold. But Bader has heavy, heavy hands…

I don’t want to go. I’m not going to go. I am going to push the pace and win this fight July 2. My back is right against wall. I’m coming out swinging.

I’m honest with myself, and when it is time, I will go. At 36, that day when I will walk away is coming. It’s coming soon; I know that and I’ve come to accept that. But it is not yet. I know I could have all kinds of wins if I was fighting different types of opponents, but I am fighting the best opposition in the division.

Yeah, it sucks that I’ve not had my hand raised since 2006. I hate it. I can’t tell you how much I hate it and how bad it sucks. I’m used to winning. I’m used to dominating, walking through guys and feeling indestructible like I did when I was champion. To go this long without a win, when you are a winner who fought for everything he has in life — it’s horrible.

But people need to look at the big details to know what’s been happening in these fights. I’ll never be someone who accepts second place — never — but, honestly, I feel I have won some of these fights.

After Chuck Liddell beat me in December 2006, I took on Rashad Evans, who went on to be a world champion and has lost only once since. And I beat him. It was only a “draw” because I got a point taken off for the one, single time when I grabbed the fence. It was a draw, but I was the better fighter in the cage. I won.

Then I fought Lyoto Machida, a great fighter who also went on to win the world title. I almost caught him in a triangle and tapped him out. He admitted he thought he was going to pass out. I lost and it sucked, but I was competitive.

Next was a rematch with Forrest Griffin, whom I beat earlier in our careers. I didn’t get the decision this time, but a lot of people felt I won two rounds to one. Again, I was more than competitive with a top-5 guy.

My last fight, against Matt Hamill in October, I lost. It was totally my bad; I didn’t prepare for his takedowns because I didn’t think he’d be able to take me down. Real dumb, my bad, and I am still pissed at myself.

But, again, I am not getting dominated. I’m not getting knocked out like Liddell was late in his career. I am still competitive with the very best guys in the division and haven’t taken a step down in competition since the day I lost my belt in 2003.

Those guys writing me off need to look at the big details of these performances …

I’m not going anywhere.

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Tito Ortiz fights Ryan Bader at UFC 132 on July 2 in Las Vegas