If there's one constant in the fight game, it's that it's fluid.
One minute you're widely regarded as a washed up hack, a shell of the former champion you once were and a sitting duck just waiting to get picked off, once and for all, by a young gun looking to make a name off you.
The very next minute (or three) you're back on top of the mountain, providing inspiration, a feel-good story and putting yourself in a position to completely turn your career around.
I'm talking about, of course, Tito Ortiz, who had one foot out the door when he stepped inside the cage to take on Ryan Bader at UFC 132. After he submitted "Darth" in the first round, he didn't just save himself from the firing squad, he completely resurrected his career.
But he barely had any chance to celebrate his first win in five years when his phone was ringing once again with UFC President Dana White on the other end. He wanted to know if Ortiz would accept a short notice fight against the number one contender in the light heavyweight division, Rashad Evans, at UFC 133 on Aug. 6 in Philadelphia.
In a blog post at ESPN, Tito details his initial response:
"I told Dana that I had a ton of business stuff to take care of with Punishment Athletics and my new Punishment Training Center and, after the Bader fight, really wanted to spend some family time. Dana said he and the UFC really needed me to step up, but that he understood. We hung up and I went back to the movie and my beverage. But I couldn't stop thinking about the opportunity Dana had just offered me."
The resurrected Ortiz slept on it and when he woke up, it was still gnawing at him. Maybe saying no was a mistake. After all, the UFC gave him chance after chance after chance, against top guys, no less. The company helped make him who he is today.
That was enough to sway him to change his mind.
"My thought processes were pretty much ‘Dana and [UFC owner] Lorenzo [Fertitta] are the reason I've got my brand in the first place. Now they are asking me for a favor but, really, it isn't a favor it is an opportunity they are offering me.' For the last six years I've had problems with the UFC and now it is time for me to stop being the bad boy and help out when they need me. I'm really grateful to Dana, Lorenzo and also Rashad - because Rashad took this fight at just as short a notice as me and I appreciate him agreeing to the fight."
He's not lying when he says this is more than a favor for his bosses. Today at the UFC 135 press conference, Dana White didn't shut the door on Ortiz as the number one contender to the division title if he is to defeat Evans.
Tito's star is the hottest it's been in years and the UFC has helped foster that. One need look no further than the new UFC 133 poster released shortly after Ortiz signed to fight Evans.
See it by clicking here. If that's not a big "thank you," I don't know what is.
On top of that, the fans have taken a Ortiz like never before. In fact, it will not be a surprise if "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" is the one receiving all the cheers in the Wells Fargo Center while "Suga" gets the lion's share of the boos.
According to this (highly scientific) poll, an overwhelming number of fans even believe Ortiz will win.
Hard work -- and being a good employee -- really does pay off.