Tito Ortiz Back in the UFC?
To Cap Off a Week of Surprises, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Could Be UFC-Bound
MMA fans…has it been one hell of a week or what?
First Josh Barnett tests positive for steroids, leaving Affliction scrambling to find a replacement. Then Affliction cancels its show outright. Then, to top it all off, Affliction cancels promoting all together and re-joins the UFC.
The UFC must have wanted some of Affliction’s spotlight, as Dana White has recently been hinting that longtime bitter rival Tito Ortiz may be returning to the octagon that made him famous.
The rumor mill first started churning when Tito Ortiz announced that he had made amends with Dana, specifically saying this:
“I wanted to be a man and squash things between me and him... he did the same to me. Dana showed the type of person he is by apologizing to me and vice versa.”
Dana soon responded via a pair of Twitter postings:
“Yes, Tito and I made up."
"Doesn't mean he's back. It means we aren't smashing each other anymore and we don't hate each other."
That was a little over a week ago, and it seems that Dana has changed his stance, also via a Twitter message. After promoting a recent radio interview, Dana White posted the following:
“Oh yea and welcome back tito :)”
It should be noted that, on said promoted radio interview, Dana White once again teased the fact that Tito Ortiz could, possibly, maybe, be making his way back to the organization that made him famous.
Despite having been gone for over a year, Tito Ortiz has managed to stay in the spotlight, mostly due to his frequent promises of signing with various promotions, none of which have ever ended up materializing. If you believe “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy”, at separate times throughout his post-UFC career he was close to signing with Elite XC, Affliction, and Strikeforce. The phrase “almost a done deal” was used repeatedly. Throughout all these contract negotiations, Tito has maintained his promise that he is back at 100% after undergoing successful back surgery.
All in all, I’ve got mixed feelings regarding this. I used to hate Tito, but I think the year-plus off has done him a world of good. Despite consistently teasing fans with the promise of fighting for different organizations, Tito, for lack of a better term, has mellowed out considerably since the last time UFC fans saw him in action. While always having a bone to pick with the UFC, Tito consistently came across as sincere and honest, even a bit goofy, in a majority of his post-UFC interviews. Now that he and Dana have smoothed things over, I’d say Tito has a better-than-average shot at returning to the UFC.
All of it centers on if Tito can still compete in today’s MMA world. A 100% Tito Ortiz is always dangerous, but the days of being so good at one skill that it allows you to overlook your shortcomings have passed. The Light Heavyweight division of the UFC is one of the most stacked weight classes on the planet, and just about all of the major players pose significant threats to Tito. Tito’s name value and impressive history as a UFC Light Heavyweight Champion has more than earned him one more shot in the UFC, and I don’t doubt that he will come in with all the tenacity in the world, hoping to make the most out of this opportunity. But the point still stands: Tito Ortiz is a dangerous wrestler. In today’s UFC Light Heavyweight Division, everyone is a dangerous everything.
It’s all rumors and speculation at this point, so sound out if you’ve got an opinion.