On July 1, 2011, if I would have told you that Tito Ortiz would dominate Ryan Bader at UFC 132, rocking him before submitting him in the first round, then proceed to get plugged into a hugely significant main event fight against Rashad Evans at the very next event at UFC 133 with a potential title shot on the line, you would have called me a liar, right?
Of course you would have. And yet, that's exactly what's transpired.
Heading into his fight against Bader on July 2 in Las Vegas, Ortiz was reflective and subdued, downright morose, even. He knew that his career was hanging in the balance.
It's difficult enough just climbing inside the Octagon to do battle against the seventh ranked light heavyweight in the world. When your very livelihood is on the line, it's damn near mentally crippling.
But that didn't stop "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" from improbably scoring his first win in nearly five years and not only saving his career from the brink of annihilation but almost completely reinventing himself in the process.
That's why his upcoming rematch against Evans is so important. It's the next step in Ortiz's plan to retake the fight game, one he largely owned in the budding years of the UFC.
As he explains to MMAWeekly.com, this is a "Cinderella Story" and it's not over just yet:
"Hopefully everybody will be happy. I'm happy; my camp's happy. The future will hold great things for me, and this Cinderella story is not over yet. The UFC has been my livelihood since day one, before the Fertittas even bought the company. I was the champion and my life and soul was the Ultimate Fighting Championship. I've been one of the biggest promoters of the UFC, promoting it and help put it on the map, and thanks to all my fans who do support me. I've always wanted that fight against Rashad. He's had a great camp, I've heard, over the last eight weeks or nine weeks. I know he hasn't fought in over a year, and I really hope I make the right decision."
If Ortiz can manage to pull off another upset, Cinderella could feasibly be looking at one last chance to regain gold.
UFC President Dana White has already come out in support of Tito and not only proclaimed his happiness with Ortiz's decision to take the fight but gave his "in the mix" seal of approval.
As hard as it may be to believe, "The Bad Boy" could very well be just one win away from a title shot just one fight removed from fighting for his professional life.
You can't make this stuff up, folks.
Of course, Rashad Evans is no pushover, as evidenced by his stellar career record and status within the division as a perennial title contender. But Ortiz has gone the distance with him before and some believe only lost due to a controversial point deduction for grabbing the cage.
Is it really possible that he can finish what he started four years ago and, at the ripe old age of 36, become a contender once again?