By: David Robson
The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, Tito Ortiz, is the kind of MMA fighter fans either love or hate. Some see him as being cocky and arrogant based upon his self-assured attitude and overly aggressive, no holds barred approach to fighting.
Fortunately for him, though, a majority of "the world's most aggressive sport's" followers tune in to watch his entertaining and exciting fights and no one can dispute the passion and ferocity he brings to the arena for each and every one of his battles.
In fact, there is one thing MMA fans can be sure of when it comes to Tito Ortiz: an explosive fight with plenty of pain inflicted by Huntington's Bad Boy. Tito has spent most of his life fighting in one way or another.
Born in 1975 to an American mother and Mexican father, MMA's baddest spent many nights as a child in Santa Ana juvenile detention centers. At age 13 his mother and father separated and he found himself back in Huntington Beach running with a street gang refining his fighting skills on the mean streets.
Tito began his fighting career proper as a wrestler in his sophomore year at high school, going on to place 4th in the high school state championships as a senior. UFC 13, 1997, marked the beginning of his MMA career and hinted at the devastating fashion in which he would end subsequent fights - with a barrage of punches Tito handily stopped Wes Albittron in round one of his first UFC match-up.
Throughout his UFC career Tito has fought most of MMA's big names, in the process becoming one of the sports biggest stars in his own right, and one of the most controversial. The controversy, which started early and has continued ever since, began in 1997 with his second UFC fight and first meeting with Lions Den contender, Guy Mezger.
After a solid start to round one, which saw Tito dominate with devastating elbows and ground-and-pound, Tito claimed that Guy had tapped out, a claim the referee disputed. Both fighters were stood up and asked to re-start. Tito, as instructed by his corner, shot in to finish the fight and was caught in a guillotine choke from which he could not escape.
Two-years-later they fought again at UFC 19 and this time Tito knocked out Guy in the first round. After the fight he put on a shirt, which proclaimed, "Gay Mezger is my b!tch" and did the finger to Guy's corner and his coach Ken Shamrock, thus staring a long-running feud between himself and Ken. Since then Tito has fought, and beat, Ken three times.
The year Tito controversially provoked the Mezger corner was also the year that defined his future. In 1999 Tito fought Frank Shamrock, Ken's younger brother, for the UFC Middleweight title but lost in the fourth. However, this fight showed Tito he had what it took to go the distance with the worlds best and in his next fight with Wanderlei Silva for the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Title he was victorious.
After losing this title in 2003 to arguably the toughest man in MMA history, Randy Couture, Tito has fought his way back into contention several times. His battles with current champion Chuck Liddell will go down in history as being some of the toughest the sport has ever seen.
He is now slated to fight the undefeated Rashad Evans at UFC 73, a fight he hopes will eventually lead to another shot at the Light Heavyweight crown. As a fighter Tito is as well rounded as they come. At six-foot-two and 205-pounds he always enters the Octagon ripped and muscular and ready to give his all, which for his opponent's means a characteristically explosive ground game and vicious strikes.
Tito is also well rounded as a person. As owner of clothing company, Punishment Athletics, former coach on Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter, and actor (He had a role in controversial - there is that word again - Turkish film Valley of the Wolves Iraq), along with the all-encompassing life of an MMA fighter along with its eight-hour training days, Tito is one busy man.
In the following interview he discusses where he has come from, where he is going and how he has become one of the most feared men in the MMA game today. Like his fights the interview is far from boring.
[ Q ] You are one of the most feared MMA fighters of all time. At what point did you know you had the potential to become one of MMA's best?
I think it really came about when I fought Frank Shamrock and I lost in the fourth round to him. I had only been training for about a year-and-a-half up until that point in Ju Jitsu, boxing and kickboxing. At that time I realised that I had a chance to become champion.