Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Forrest Griffin (right) punches Tito Ortiz during a light heavyweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
I was there when Tito Ortiz took Frank Shamrock to the absolute limit at UFC 22. I was there when Ortiz scooped Evan Tanner up seconds into their fight and slammed him down, knocking the Texan unconscious.
When "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" pounded Ken Shamrock into a living death at UFC 40, I was there. I was also there to see Ortiz lose his title to Randy Couture and eventually meet old friend Chuck Liddell inside the Octagon.
But he isn't anymore.
Because I was also there last night (July 8) and saw the UFC 148 co-main event where Ortiz's once-vaunted cardio failed him. In a rubber match with Forrest Griffin -- the only fighter under 40-years-old besides Ryan Bader Ortiz has beaten in the past six years -- "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" looked tired and exhausted almost from the opening bell.
This is how he decides to end his career?
Going into the UFC 148 fight, Ortiz said he would -- win or lose -- retire after the bout. After two dozen fights and multiple back surgeries, the 37-year-old wanted to call it a day.
Over the course of the weekend, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Couture and Liddell. It was a honor the company bestowed as a thank you for everything he'd done for the sport. He essentially carried on the company on his back during "The Dark Ages" and in the early days of Zuffa's ownership.
It was during that time he displayed his dominance. He racked up five title defense before losing the title to "The Natural." After his knockout loss to Liddell, he scored victories over Patrick Cote and Vitor Belfort before he left the company to seek out other employment options.
He eventually returned to the Octagon -- as he did in late 2009 after a second sabbatical -- to take on Griffin. He won their first encounter but lost the second. Since then, it's been downhill for "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy."
He holds one win in six years with his last two losses coming as a result of body strikes which wilted Ortiz. Many felt the former champion was back in form after his submission win over Bader but it was a momentary relapse into his past greatness.
The rubber match with Griffin was supposed to be his swan song. He was supposed to march inside the Octagon and take his foe for everything he had and ride off into the sunset with one final victory under his belt.
Instead, he looked tired and aimless. It wasn't until the third round where Ortiz came alive but the effort was too little, too late.
At the end of 15 minutes, "The People's Champion" picked up his sixth loss in seven fight.
Ortiz is a legend and a Hall of Famer. He deserves to retire as such.
But the last performance he gave inside the Octagon stunk.