Tito Ortiz is inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Photo via @UFC.
The name Tito Ortiz doesn't mean as much today (Sat., July 7, 2012) as it did in, say, 2002. It was that year that "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" reigned supreme as the king of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the promotion's light heavyweight champion and the biggest drawing card in history up to that point.
In fact, his technical knockout victory over Ken Shamrock at UFC 40 on Nov. 22, 2002, did a reported 150,000 buys on pay-per-view (PPV), a ridiculously high number during that time period.
With his loose lips and powerful takedowns, Ortiz ruled the roost during the dark days just before and after Zuffa purchased the promotion and set about turning it into the most powerful mixed martial arts (MMA) organization in the world. He was Chael Sonnen before Chael Sonnen ever even thought about using his mouth to help earn himself title shots against the best in the world.
One could argue Tito was superior because he used his mouth while defending his championship against all comers. That is until he ran into Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, of course. He would lose but rattle off another five victories until embarking on a legendary run of futility.
It was odd, really, seeing such a remarkable fall from grace. Starting with his third round technical knockout loss to Liddell in their rematch at UFC 66 on Dec. 30, 2006, Ortiz would post a record of just 1-6-1 over the next six years or so.
Despite this, he's remained a seminal figure in the sport. Stars of today and the future, such as current Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, grew up watching Ortiz ply his trade inside the Octagon. It's fitting, then, that "Bones" is the new dominant figure in the sport just as Tito is getting out.
MMAFighting.com got a few quotes from his induction speech:
"I told myself I wouldn't do this. I said I would't cry. ... I put my heart, soul and body into this sport. I've had ACL surgery, back surgery, neck surgery, a meniscus tear. When people ask me, 'Why you retiring?' I'm retiring because it's time. ... I've done everything I wanted to do. My number one goal was to be the best fighter ever in the Octagon. I think I can hold hands with many who can stake that claim. ... Chuck Liddell, Randy [Couture], Ken Shamrock, thanks. We helped build this sport into what it is today."
So long, "Bad Boy." It's been fun.