Ok, admit it. Who saw that coming?
Former UFC light heavyweight champion was all but done in the UFC. He'd had to beg for one last shot in the promotion and UFC President Dana White, who's had some very public feuds with "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" even stated that he was going to be done with Tito if he lost last night (July 2, 2011) on the main card of UFC 132 against Ryan Bader.
You know what they say about a wounded animal that's been backed into a corner, they're more dangerous than ever.
Entering the Octagon to Eminem's "Not Afraid" Ortiz certainly proved it last night, scoring his first submission victory in over 10 years
We'll break it down for both fighters after the jump.
Ryan Bader looked tentative, more often on his heels and not looking to engage with his powerful right and left hands. Surprisingly, it was Tito who had control of the center of the cage, looking to stalk down "Darth" with his striking.
Maybe it was Tito's plan all along to stand and bang with Bader because if he was planning on shooting and taking The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season eight winner down, he never got the opportunity. Instead, Tito lunged forward with a big short right uppercut/hook hybrid that cracked the TUF champion on the chin and sent him reeling to the canvas.
Tito immediately pounced and looked to work his ground and pound but when Bader left his neck exposed, the former light heavyweight champion instead latched on a guillotine choke and squeezed with all his might. Despite having the arm in, he forced Bader to tap out less than two minutes into the fight and the arena completely exploded as Ortiz finally got to perform his patented "Gravedigger" post-fight celebration.
For Ryan Bader, this loss is absolutely devastating. Not only was he the overwhelming favorite to win, Dana White likely was hoping he'd be done with Tito forever and it's Bader's fault that he's not. Here's an interesting fact. Ken Shamrock lasted longer with Tito Ortiz in his third fight (2:22) than Ryan Bader did last night (1:56). That's how bad it was for the former top prospect.
Bader has some serious soul searching to do if he ever wants to be relevant again. Maybe the loss to Jon Jones was more harrowing than even the best analysts believed. Either way, he needs a win in his next UFC fight or he could be done in the promotion. Expect him to be given a much lower-tier opponent in his next fight like Steve Cantwell, Eliot Marshall or even Fabio Maldonado to help him build some confidence. He definitely needs it after last night's performance. How he responds to this loss will likely be a key factor on how the rest of his career plays out.
For Tito Ortiz, wow. There were a lot of people watching last night that discovered they were actually closet Tito fans when the former champion pulled off the monumental upset. It was one of his greatest performances in his 14 year UFC career and something that modern day fans will remember forever. No more excuses, no more jokes, that was a legitimate stoppage victory over a very dangerous opponent.
Expect Ortiz to jump back up the rankings and be given a very tough opponent in his next fight. The most obvious choice would be the winner of the upcoming UFC 134 fight between Forrest Griffin and Mauricio Rua. Griffin vs. Ortiz would be an interesting trilogy fight while Ortiz vs "Shogun" would be equally fascinating. Another possibility would be the winner of Rich Franklin and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 133. One last intriguing possibility would be Stephan Bonnar, who's currently riding a modest two fight winning streak. Either way, Tito Ortiz is relevant again.
Who'd have thought?
So Maniacs, what did you think of Tito Ortiz's performance last night? Did you get a warm feeling when he pulled off the big upset like many fans around the world? What does the UFC do with Ryan Bader next?