Apparently, the "People's Championship" was on the line last night (December 10, 2011) on the UFC 140 main card when veterans Tito Ortiz and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira battled in the Octagon.
The former "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" came out a man possessed, pushing a strong pace and forcing his Brazilian foe backwards but he couldn't keep up his high pace, wilting under the pressure of Nogueira's superior striking and aggression.
After nearly 15 years of fighting in the UFC, Ortiz looked the part of a man who'd discussed retiring multiple times in the lead-up to this bout.
So what went wrong for Tito Ortiz? And what's next for both veteran light heavyweights?
Ortiz had proclaimed he'd like to score a knockout of the night against "Lil Nog" and he tried to back up his words early, coming out swinging heavy leather. He had Nogueira on his heels early, but the Brazilian is a terrific boxer and he proved it, countering hard on Tito's exposed skull.
Ortiz attempted to weather the storm, but Nogueira was relentless, aggressively pumelling him with big strikes along the fence.
WIth Ortiz covering up his head with both elbows, Nogueira began dropping shots to "The People's Champion's" exposed body.
When Ortiz backed up in the center of the cage, "Lil Nog" crushed him with a knee directly to the body which crumpled him and sent him reeling to the canvas in obvious pain.
Ortiz was checked out of the fight from here on out.
With his opponent on the ropes, Nogueira refused to let up the punishment, dropping a torrid assault of punches to the head.
Ortiz was in serious trouble and as he again covered up his face, Nogueira began dropping huge right hands to his exposed ribs.
Combined with his earlier knee to the body, Ortiz couldn't take it any more and turned away from the onslaught, prompting the referee to put a halt to the action.
All that was left for Nogueira was the celebration.
For Tito Ortiz, he looked like a fighter who's about to call it quits. He had about 30 seconds of fight in him before getting completely overwhelmed by a man who is still hungry and capable of hanging with the top of the division. He left huge openings with his aggressive punching attack and his "cover up and hope he stops punching me" defense was simply not enough to survive when Nogueira turned up the pressure.
Tito asked for one last fight since he has one more on his contract, and he might get it. He's been around long enough and has been an important icon in the sport to wear he deserves it. He could be out for a while in case those shots to the body broke some ribs but if he's capable of returning by May, perhaps his suggested trilogy fight with Forrest Griffin could be a good way to go out. The only other veteran that would seem a worthy battle is Rich Franklin, but that depends on both men's recovery.
For Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, this was exactly the type of performance he needed after coming up short against two talented and younger wrestling prospects back-to-back. He looked sharp and ready to get back in the thick of the light heavyweight division. He remained composed when Ortiz was charging him and throwing huge bombs and it paid off.
There are a couple options for him going forward. There's a very real possibility that he draws the winner of the upcoming Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson bout or perhaps we could see him against Stephan Bonnar or Forrest Griffin. Either way, he's once again relevant at 205 pounds.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Is this the last time we see Tito Ortiz in the Octagon? Can Nogueira repeat this performance against another top light heavyweight?
For complete UFC 140: "Jones vs. Machida" results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire pay-per-view (PPV) event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.
All gifs by Zombie Prophet via IronForgesIron.com.