Tito Ortiz was all set to make his much-anticipated Bellator MMA debut against Quinton Jackson in the Viacom-owned company's first-ever foray into the pay-per-view (PPV) business at Bellator 106 in Nov. 2013.
However, the Light Heavyweight fight -- as well as the PPV event -- was scratched when "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" suffered a neck injury, forcing him out of the main event against his former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) running mate.
According to Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, while Ortiz is still currently under contract with his organization in case he can make a healthy return, locking a fighter at risk of paralysis in a cage against a skilled opponent who is trained to hurt hm, is something he's not eager to do.
And it's an alarming that he plans to discuss in detail with the Team Punishment leader.
Rebney talked about the delicate situation during a recent media conference call (via MMA Weekly):
"Tito is still with us. I've got to sit down and really download with Tito. When I initially got on the phone with the doctors, and Tito announced to us that he had fractured his neck, that was and is the primary concern. There's not a substantive answer at this point to whether he's going to come back. We're having discussions with him. The key was to get 120 percent healed. It's an unsettling conversation to have a specialist in the field of neck injuries to tell you that with the right kind of drop on the head, or the right kind of impact on the spine, paralysis could be a result. That's never a good conversation: A) for a world class athlete, but B) it's never a good conversation for the person in my position charged with putting that person inside of a cage to fight against top tier competition. The concern is still there, but just like any kind of injury, or just like any kind of break, he may be able to come back from it. And if he is able to come back from it, we'll relight the fuse and figure out what the steps are to get him into the cage. But, right now, there isn't a definitive answer in terms of when he could come back."
Rebney revealed that while Ortiz still has a contract with Bellator, it is currently on hold because of the injury as per company policy.
"Tito and I have got to sit down, work through it, talk about it, and if he is going to get back inside the cage, which is a distinct possibility, figure out what the best launch pad is and how he'd want to do that and what makes sense."
Meanwhile, according to Ortiz (via Twitter), he already has the green light to get back into training.
Got the green light from my DR. Time to train. This year is all business. (@ Punishment Athletics) http://t.co/jhTOcSYt6w— Tito Ortiz (@titoortiz) January 21, 2014
Riddled with countless injuries and surgeries throughout his 17-year combat sports career, Ortiz has shown he can bounce back time after time.
But, is the former UFC 205-pound champion rolling the dice one too many times with his latest comeback attempt?