When Phil Davis went down with a knee injury and forced the UFC to scramble to find a late notice replacement for Rashad Evans at UFC 133 in Philadelphia on Aug. 6, they had the perfect candidate in mind.
None other than the Tito Ortiz.
That's the same Tito Ortiz that just destroyed Ryan Bader at UFC 132 on July 2 and told anyone who would listen that he was ready to get back inside the Octagon as fast as humanly possible in his quest to get "his" world title back.
So imagine the surprise of all involved when matchmaker Joe Silva and company came calling with a major main event fight opportunity and "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" replied with a big fat N-O.
That's according to Dana White himself (via MMA Fighting). Sorry, boss.
This is especially odd considering Ortiz's long held want for a rematch against Evans, whom he fought to a controversial draw with back in July 2007 at UFC 73, a fight he would have won if not for a point deduction.
Word travels fast, of course, and Tito is already on the defensive. Here's how he explained his decision on his Twitter account:
"I have a life and things to take care of. The fight game is about making the right choices of my career. If you knew what I have been going through you all would understand. Peaking for a fight is what makes a fighter unstoppable! Timing is everything in life. This is a rebuild year for me not do or die. The time will come again! #positive"
From the sounds of it, Ortiz simply didn't want to take a fight against an elite level light heavyweight on such short notice, even if it may as well have been a number one contender bout.
That's understandable, no?
However, it may not be the best career move for the suddenly resurgent 36-year-old. At an advanced age like that, and with a huge win still fresh in fight fan's minds, immediately jumping back in against one of the best fighters in the world, who is coming off a layoff lasting well over a year, seems to make too much sense to ignore.
No doubt, the UFC was eager to cash in on Ortiz's incredible upset win over Bader, as well, a win that got plenty of play in media outlets everywhere.
But nothing ever goes the way it's planned and in this case, the way it's backup planned.
What do you think of this one, ladies and sirs? Did Tito make the right or wrong decision for his career?