UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz 'comfortably retired now,' shuts door on return to fighting

Tito Ortiz made rival Chael Sonnen tap out earlier this year, and that, it seems, is how the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” is content finishing his MMA career.

Ortiz, who has come out of retirement before, told MMAjunkie on Friday that he’s “comfortably retired now” and has no intention of competing ever again.

“As a fighter, it’s time to say it’s over after 20 years of competition,” the UFC Hall of Famer said. “I’m 42 years old. I’ve been through eight surgeries, and I still have my head on my shoulders, which I’m very, very lucky. Fortunate for the things that I’ve had through mixed martial arts, so I’m just trying to use the best of it to build the name of Tito Ortiz.

“I’m doing well, man. Just working hard and chasing this American dream, and I’m living it.”

Ortiz (19-12-1), a former light heavyweight champion, first retired in 2012 after a 27-fight UFC career ended with a second loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 148. Ortiz’s retirement didn’t last long, though, as he signed with Bellator and returned to the cage in 2014.

Ortiz competed four times with the promotion, going 3-1. That includes a rear-naked choke submission win over Sonnen (30-15-1) in January at Bellator 170. Ever since then – much like before the fight – the two men have engaged in a war of words on social media and in the press.

In August, following neck surgery, Ortiz posted a video on Instagram updating his condition and seemed to call out Sonnen when he ended with these words: “Now it’s time to get ready, because, Chael, I’m kicking your ass.”

Asked if a rematch with Sonnen could actually lure him out of retirement, Ortiz mostly joked with his response.

“You know what? I may kick Chael’s ass just one time, just because, maybe for free,” Ortiz said, laughing. “Because I hate the guy.”

Then Ortiz’s tone of voice changed.

“I really don’t want to, but I really dislike that guy a lot,” he continued. “But I’m not looking forward to it, man. I’m not looking forward to training again. I’m not looking forward to being on the grind. But that guy just can’t shut his mouth about me.”

While Ortiz’s disdain for Sonnen is real, he insists the potential for a return to fighting isn’t. Ortiz these days is focused on other endeavors, including his sports management company, Primetime 360, which represents UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. He also has the newly formed Tito Ortiz Auto Group, a wholesale and retail car dealership.

There’s also Hollywood. Ortiz has a part in Tyler Perry’s “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween,” which hits theaters next Friday, and is hopeful of future acting opportunities.

So, fighting again? It looks unlikely.

“I’ve learned a lot through my life – mixed martial arts, as a business man, as an entreprenuer, and as a fighter and a father,” Ortiz said. “It’s just time to shut that door and open up other doors.”

For more on the upcoming MMA schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

What happens when you pay a fighter to retire? What happens when you stop?

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Buried in a 58-page pitch to potential investors was a plan for the UFC’s future that former fighters like Chuck Liddell might have been very interested to read. That plan included ways to increase profits through various “cost-saving opportunities,” such as tightening up certain “compensation practices.”

One such practice? The use of “long-lived consultants.”

That was in the summer of 2016, right around the time the UFC was sold to WME-IMG following weeks of denials, both to the public and internally to employees, about rumors of a sale.

Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Liddell had been retired for roughly six years by that point, all of which he’d spent on the UFC payroll. That seemed to be a big part of the reason he retired when he did. Following Liddell’s third straight knockout loss, UFC President Dana White urged his longtime friend to hang up the gloves, and he succeeded with help from the promise of a perpetual paycheck for a do-nothing gig as a UFC “executive.”

It was the first time the UFC had paid one of its stars to perform the service of not fighting, but it wouldn’t be the last. Former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes would also wind up retiring to take a similar gig (“one of those Chuck Liddell jobs,” he said once years earlier, while discussing the prospect of retirement and rubbing his hands together at the thought) in 2013.

Former “TUF” winner and light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin also got a similar role, as did former interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

For the moment, at least, Griffin and Nogueira still have their jobs; Liddell and Hughes don’t. Perhaps not coincidentally, Griffin and Nogueira are both known for actually doing stuff relating to their jobs, while both Liddell and Hughes seemed intent on driving home the point that they were collecting checks for what they had done, and not what they were doing.

Still, for a time this system worked. It offered a solution to a problem. Pro fighters are notorious for not knowing when to quit. While promoters can refuse to give them any more fights, they can’t stop a competitor from stepping up with an offer to fill the void. If you care enough about an aging fighter’s health or legacy – or you just want to keep him out of the hands of another promoter – paying him to do nothing is an effective strategy.

Trouble is, it’s also expensive. The old Zuffa might have been willing to eat that cost, but the new regime was less enthusiastic. So what’s a guy like Liddell supposed to do now?

He seems to be asking himself the same question. On a recent episode of “The MMA Hour,” Liddell admitted he’d been caught by surprise when the UFC job that was supposed to be his for life suddenly evaporated.

“Life changes,” Liddell said. “And I think at first I took it a little hard, but now I look at it as a blessing in disguise. It’s got me re-motivated to go out and find what I really want to do.”

That’s where it gets tricky. The whole reason the UFC was paying Liddell was because it worried that what he might really want to do is fight some more.

Now Liddell is 47. His last win was nearly 10 years ago, but that’s not a significant barrier to entry in today’s MMA landscape. Over in Bellator, the home of MMA’s senior tour, company president Scott Coker says Liddell would need “a battery of tests” before he could fight. Then again, when you’ve already promoted a fight between Dada 5000 and Kimbo Slice, you might have to forgive people for assuming that your medical standards aren’t that high.

If Liddell did come out of retirement for Bellator, there’s Chael Sonnen, beckoning him to join in a prolonged debate to be followed by a show of geriatric athletics for the enrichment of all parties involved. There, too, is old friend Tito Ortiz, who Liddell probably still punches in his sleep on particularly restful nights.

And you could see why Liddell would be tempted to join them, couldn’t you? Especially if he feels like the UFC paid for what was left of his prime and then dumped him once it needed to cut costs.

You have to wonder how the UFC president would feel then, watching his old buddy back in the cage, but this time under another banner. It’s exactly the scenario White was trying to prevent, but in the end he might only succeed in delaying it.

Plus, no matter what you think of the practice of paying fighters to quit, the experiment seems to have a limited future. Who would trade whatever’s left of their career for a cushy UFC gig now, especially since there seems to be no better than a 50-50 chance of holding onto the job?

That leaves us right back where we started, with a stubborn problem that combat sports can’t quite solve. Old fighters, when confronted with the question of what they really want to do next, so often decide that it’s the thing they did last. If you’re looking for a different answer, it’s probably going to cost you.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Chael Sonnen responds to Tito Ortiz's callout on Twitter just how you'd expect

UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz recently provided an update this week on his post-neck surgery condition, posting an Instagram video in which he specifies details the procedure and how he’s feeling while also thanking friends, family and Bellator for their support.

Ortiz, who retired more than six months ago, closed out the video with this:

“I’m alive. I’m fixed. Now it’s time to get ready because, Chael, I’m kicking your ass.”

That obviously was Ortiz (19-12-1 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) hinting at un-retiring for a rematch with Chael Sonnen (30-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), who tapped out to a rear-naked choke in their fight earlier this year at Bellator 170. You know Sonnen wouldn’t let that go without a response, which he issued on Twitter.

That’s a classic Chael Sonnen response, ladies and gentlemen, especially the part about “I’m glad I beat you.” Because, you know, he is “still undefeated and still undisputed” no matter what any of us think.

For more on the upcoming Bellator schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, Featured Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Is Tito Ortiz planning to come out of retirement after latest neck surgery?

Tito Ortiz is more than six months into his latest retirement, but it appears the former UFC light heavyweight champion could again be on the comeback trail.

Ortiz (19-12-1 MMA, 3-1 BMMA), a UFC Hall of Famer, retired from competition earlier this year after a first-round submission of Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170 in January. He’s since claimed to be content with his decision but now is hinting at the desire to compete again.

Ortiz recently underwent a surgery on his neck which apparently required multiple discs to be removed. He’s recovering quickly, though, he said, and is teasing a rematch with Sonnen, who has blasted him with numerous negative comments since their first encounter (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Ortiz is coming off a stretch of three victories in four fights since he joined the Bellator roster in May 2014. He’s still officially retired, but the 42-year-old has kept busy of late by appearing in the corner of UFC women’s featherweight champion Cristiane Justino for her title-winning victory at UFC 214 this past month.

For more on the upcoming MMA schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 214's 'Thrill and Agony' captures Tito Ortiz calling Jon Jones the 'best always'

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Folks were lining up to give Jon Jones his props after reclaiming the UFC light-heavyweight title, as we see in the latest “Thrill and Agony” video.

The “Thrill and Agony” series takes us up close and behind the scenes of pay-per-view events, and at UFC 214, we saw joy, as well as the agony, that followed two title fights: Jones’ (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) third-round knockout win over Daniel Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) in the headliner, as well as Cristiane Justino (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) claiming the vacant women’s featherweight belt with a third-round TKO of Tonya Evinger (19-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in a main-card bout.

UFC 214 took place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and the main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

In “Thrill and Agony,” raw emotion is put on display, primarily with the corner and cageside cams that captured teammates, friends and family reacting to the fights.

They also captured the action backstage, where folks – including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jerry Cerrone (UFC 214 fighter Donald Cerrone’s grandmother) – congratulated Jones. UFC Hall of Famer and former light-heavyweight kingpin Tito Ortiz, who cornered “Cyborg” Justino, was also there to give Jones his props.

“You are the best,” Ortiz tells Jones. “You are the best. Good job. You’re the best always.”

It clearly meant a lot to Jones, who called Ortiz an inspiration. Check it out above.

The video is a preview of “Thrill and Agony.” UFC Fight Pass subscribers can now watch the entire episode, which eventually will make its way to YouTube.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Tito Ortiz: 'Cyborg' should've been face of women's MMA long before 'flash in the pan' Ronda Rousey

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

February 23, 2013 was a historic night for the UFC at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

It was UFC 157, and in the main event, Ronda Rousey submitted Liz Carmouche with her signature armbar to defend the bantamweight title in the very first UFC women’s fight that set off a revolution in MMA.

At that time, Cristiane Justino already was known as a one of the most dangerous fighters in the world – male or female. But she wouldn’t get her moment in the UFC spotlight until May of 2016. Fast forward to Saturday night at UFC 214, and in the same building where Rousey made history, “Cyborg” finally became a UFC champion with a TKO of Tonya Evinger to win the women’s featherweight title.

It was just the second UFC women’s 145-pound bout to take place, though with inaugural champion Germaine de Randamie opting to have her belt stripped instead of defending it against Justino, it felt like a new beginning for the division.

And for Tito Ortiz, friend and training partner of Justino, it felt like history was made similar to Rousey’s four-and-a-half years ago.

“You know, I really do,” Ortiz told Submission Radio. “It’s just that I think Cris is more of a true person. You know, she really doesn’t let her head get to her. She’s very calm, collective and very mellow-mannered person. She’s an awesome woman. She doesn’t get cocky, she doesn’t treat people bad. Cris is a true champion. She’s a true people’s champion. She goes out of her way to help people, and that’s what champions are made of, and that’s what Cris is made of.”

Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Rousey (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) beefed in the past during Rousey’s reign as UFC women’s bantamweight champion, though “Cyborg” made it clear during fight week she isn’t holding any grudges. Even though Justino said she has no desire to fill Rousey’s shoes as the new face of women’s MMA, Ortiz believes it’s inevitable.

Because it’s also long overdue.

“Yeah, that’s what’s going to happen to Cris Cyborg 100 percent. She is going to be the face of women’s MMA. She should have been a long time ago, she’s gonna be now,” Ortiz said. “You know, Ronda was a flash in the pan. And nothing against her, she was a great champ at the time, but when you’re getting hand-fed opponents, it is what it is. But Cris is not a person to submit people and give them an opportunity to do it again, she’s a person to knock people out – as you heard tonight at the press conference, people comparing her to a Mike Tyson.

“But now she’s a confident person, is keeping her hips low and, yeah, she swings like Mike Tyson. All of her sparring partners, man, they’re all men. We don’t have any women sparring partner with her, and when they do it’s just a confidence booster for her, and I’ve got to thank all of them for coming in and working with her. Cris is finally the UFC world champ.”

She certainly waited long enough to be called that. What she does with that title is up to her.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Chael Sonnen surprised by Wanderlei Silva's shove, says Tito Ortiz's heckling was 'low class'

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos

NEW YORK – Chael Sonnen isn’t pleased with how Tito Ortiz conducted himself cageside during Saturday’s Bellator NYC main event.

Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), who earned a unanimous-decision win over Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) in the pay-per-view headliner at Madison Square Garden in New York, was a target of Ortiz’s (19-12-1 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) throughout the light-heavyweight headliner.

Ortiz heckled Sonnen the entire fight, screaming obscenities and making crude gestures. Their rivalry recently came to a head with Sonnen’s first-round submission loss to Ortiz at Bellator 170 in January.

Although Ortiz has always been emotional fighter, Sonnen said his antics at Bellator NYC were out of line.

“Tito is a drunk, and he’s a drug addict,” Sonnen told MMAjunkie after Bellator NYC, while lobbing a number of accusations. “Tito is broke. He borrows those suits. I have no idea why they even invite him out here. That’s as low class as it gets. I’m not a guy who is a prude about this stuff. I’m not a prude about someone attacking another guy or building up a fight at all. Of all the things I’ve ever said or done to somebody else, I will sign that contract and step into that cage and answer for it every single time without exception. Tito Ortiz will never get in there. Tito Ortiz sucks.

“He was high tonight. He was drinking tonight. He got booed tonight. I could give a damn less about Tito Ortiz, but it’s very low brow. He’s going to behave like that when I’m on one side of the fence and he’s on the other? It’s like Tito, man, you’re messing with the wrong guy. I will come through here and whip your ass.”

Here’s a look at Ortiz cageside (via Twitter):

Ortiz wasn’t the only person Sonnen had to deal with at Bellator NYC. He also had Silva, who he finally met in a grudge match seven years in the making. As Sonnen was conducting his post-fight interview with Jimmy Smith, Silva shoved him on his way out of the cage and was clearly frustrated by the fact he was outworked in the heated grudge match.

“I was surprised,” Sonnen said of Silva’s shove. “Generally in a sport like this you bury the hatchet, you shake hands. Whether you mean it or not, procedure says you shake hands. You come to the press conference, you give the other guy his due. He shoved me and then he shoved me again afterwards. It surprised me. I didn’t really know how to handle it. Do I go after this guy when we just fought? I just really didn’t know how to handle it.”

Despite sharing the cage with “The Axe Murderer” for three rounds, Sonnen said his feelings toward the Brazilian haven’t necessarily changed. However, Sonnen gave Silva credit for hanging tough through three rounds. However, he wasn’t happy that Silva shoved him while Sonnen was doing a post-fight interview.

Regardless, the victory marked Sonnen’s first since his August 2013 submission of Mauricio Rua under the UFC banner. He’s spent most of that time inactive from competition, in part due to failed drug tests and a short-lived retirement, and said he was simply happy to get his hand raised.

“It’s the second time I’ve fought in four years,” Sonnen said. “I’ve been in the principal’s office for a little bit of time. I want to get my hand raised. Everything else that comes in between, it doesn’t make a difference to me. I’ll take a win by disqualification and hold my head up high.

“There’s plenty of ways to skin a cat in this business. Wanderlei is a tough guy. That’s the reality. I don’t like Wanderlei Silva. I’m not going to compliment him, but I’m also not going to lie. He’s a tough guy. He held on tight. He’s a strong guy and there you go.”

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Fans invited to this week's Bellator NYC weigh-ins, Q&A, fan fest in New York City

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Filed under: Bellator, News

Bellator’s long-awaited return to pay-per-view takes place this week, and fans can get up close and personal with some MMA legends.

Fans are invited to the weigh-ins for Bellator NYC, as well as a Q&A session with four MMA legends and a fan fest on Friday in New York City. Bellator NYC takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden with a main card on pay-per-view following the Bellator 180 portion of the event on Spike and MMAjunkie.

The Q&A and ceremonial Bellator NYC weigh-ins take place at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Doors open to fans at 4 p.m. ET. At 4:30 p.m., fans can meet the Bellator ring girls. At 5 p.m., a “Legends” Q&A takes place with Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Royce Gracie and Dan Henderson. And the ceremonial weigh-ins for the event kick off at 6 p.m.

After that, members of the “Bellator Nation” fan club can head to Dave & Buster’s in Times Square for a chance to meet Ortiz and Gracie, who will be on hand from 8-11 p.m. ET. The event is free with an RSVP by Bellator Nation members, who can sign up at bellator.com/fanfest.

In the Bellator NYC main event, Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) takes on Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a long-awaited grudge match. In the co-feature, heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko (36-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) fights Matt Mitrione (11-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA). The pay-per-view portion also features a pair of title fights. Welterweight champion Douglas Lima (28-6 MMA, 10-2 BMMA) takes on new acquisition Lorenz Larkin (18-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), and lightweight champ Michael Chandler (16-3 MMA, 13-3 BMMA) meets Brent Primus (7-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA). Plus, in the main event of the Bellator 180 portion on Spike, light heavyweight champ Phil Davis (17-3 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) rematches recent signee Ryan Bader (22-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) with the title on the line.

For more on Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz 3? Chael Sonnen would watch, but isn't betting it will happen

Bellator NYC headliner Chael Sonnen expects UFC Hall of Famers Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell to return to the cage – he just doesn’t think they will fight each other.

“I do think Chuck is likely to compete again just because I take him at his word and I know he wants to, and I think Tito’s going to have to someday,” Sonnen today told MMAjunkie Radio. “But I don’t think we’ll see a trilogy.”

After falling short to Ortiz in a January grudge match, Sonnen (29-14-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) is set to settle a longstanding feud with Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) on pay-per-view at Madison Square Garden in New York City next Saturday. But the fight isn’t the only marketable rivalry at light heavyweight.

Ortiz (19-12-1 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) and Liddell (21-8 MMA, 16-6 UFC) easily fit the promotional model employed by Bellator chief Scott Coker, who frequently signs old UFC stars to headline Spike-televised events.

“I’m in for it,” Sonnen said. “I like fun fights. They don’t all have to be meaningful; they don’t all have to be contendership or championship fights. So does it make sense? I don’t know if I could argue that completely, but would I tune in? Yeah.”

The former UFC champs got the MMA world talking when Liddell posted a picture of the two facing off, harkening back to the longstanding grudge that fueled two pay-per-view title fights and a stint as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 11.”

Instagram Photo

Things appeared to be moving toward a trilogy with both fighters coming out of retirement. But then Ortiz apologized to Liddell in what many might call an uncharacteristic gesture of maturity for the brash fighter.

Liddell, of course, has twice made Ortiz eat his words. But a third fight would be money in the bank for both fighters, not to mention Bellator, even if it’s unclear whether Liddell is free of his UFC contract, which was frozen when he retired to take a behind-the-scenes job with the industry leader.

To Sonnen, one of the sport’s most astute promoters, Ortiz’s actions weren’t those of someone looking to settle a score. He expects Ortiz to return to the cage some day, but against an opponent with more competitive upside.

“I would definitely watch those guys fight, but I don’t want to see anybody fight unless both of the guys want to fight,” Sonnen said. “Even if I’m on a playground, if one kid doesn’t want to do it, I’m out. Somebody needs to break that up. I don’t think that fight’s going to happen. I do think Chuck is likely to compete again just because I take him at his word and I know he wants to, and I think Tito’s going to have to some day.”

Still sour from a first-round submission loss to Ortiz in his retirement fight at Bellator 170, Sonnen would love another crack at the retired champ, whom he calls “absolutely terrible.”

“I think Tito’s going to come back a little bit down the road,” he said. “I think he’s still got a couple of bucks from (ex-girlfriend) Jenna (Jameson) left over and she hasn’t kicked him out of the house yet, and he sucks. I think he’s got a couple of things against him, but eventually, there will be a cash grab.”

It just won’t come against Liddell.

For his part, Sonnen isn’t suffering for any lack of motivation getting ready for his showdown with Silva. The loss to Ortiz sent him back to the gym with a mission to prove he is better than his most recent showing.

There’s nothing staged about his rivalry, though. Sonnen said Bellator would be wise to keep him away from Silva as the fight approaches. What could happen might light up social media, but also cost the fighters a few thousand dollars in commission fines.

For more on Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie