If there is one thing we are all keenly aware of it is that Tito Ortiz is not stupid. In fact, under certain terms one could downright consider Tito Ortiz a savant of sorts as it relates to marketing himself. But even Ortiz knows that his career in the UFC is rapidly approaching its end and that is why it does not come as much of a surprise to hear the news that Ortiz has offered to step in for the injured Phil Davis and take on Rashad Evans in the main event at UFC 133 next month. Despite entering the fight as a considerable underdog against Evans it was a very calculated move on Oritz’s part.
Ortiz, along with nearly every fan out there, knows that he is in need of career rejuvenation if he hopes to continue to cash those hefty UFC paychecks. Granted, critics have long argued that Ortiz should have been given his walking papers when he failed to notch a win in a five year span between 2006 thru 2011. Any other fighter going 0-4-1 in the same span under the UFC banner would have been promptly given his walking papers. Though, Ortiz is far from any other fighter. Not to go all “fan boy” on you but Ortiz’s contributions to the sport and his continued celebrity made him too important of a fighter to be given the boot. Still, despite the fact that his name resonates with the general public (and that translates to dollars for the UFC) the sad truth is his skills are no longer up to par with his larger than life personality.
But with UFC stars being created with greater ease than ever before the writing apparently is on the wall for Ortiz. He understands his fame is fleeting and no fan on earth is as fickle as the average fight fan. This puts Ortiz in an especially difficult predicament as the UFC’s light heavyweight division is incredibly top heavy with some of MMA’s best and brightest fighters. To say that Ortiz has a difficult run at the title would be like saying the Sahara is a little sandy. This is why Ortiz was left with little other choice but to tackle the daunting task of taking on a fighter of Rashad Evans’ talent on short notice. If Ortiz ever wants another shot at the title he helped make famous he is going to need to take on a “Murder’s Row” of opposition.
Of course Ortiz was in the exact same predicament leading into his last fight with the beast of a man that is Ryan Bader. While no one gave Ortiz much of a chance against Bader back on July 2 on UFC 132, Ortiz was able to shock the world as he thoroughly dominated Bader in route to a first round submission. Perhaps it is due to the relative ease of his encounter with Bader that we now find Ortiz preparing to enter the Octagon with less than three weeks to go. Or, perhaps, Ortiz knows that he if fighting on borrowed time and given the plague of injuries and inactivity this is his moment to seize.
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In any event, Ortiz should be applauded for stepping up and taking a fight with another dangerous opponent in an incredibly short timeframe. If nothing else, Ortiz may have earned some points with Dana White given that Lyoto Machida, the other fighter initially tabbed to replace Davis, effectively went diva on the UFC by asking to be compensated the same as teammate Anderson Silva.
"I opted not to pay him Anderson Silva money and told him,” stated White on a media call this afternoon. “When you accomplish all the things Anderson Silva has accomplished, we'll pay you Anderson Silva money.”
Ortiz, uncharacteristically, was downright accommodating when negotiating the deal for his fight with Evans according to White.
"People were asking, 'Did he go for more money,” stated White. “Tito didn't get any more money. He didn't get anything.”
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Of course this fight is about more than money for Ortiz. He needs this win, this momentum, to catapult him to a coveted title shot. According to White a victory over Evans would definitely put Ortiz in the title contention mix.
“He's taking a big fight on short notice, and I respect that," White explained. “[A win over Evans] would definitely put Tito in the mix.”