Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz wants to retire from mixed martial arts "on his own terms."
"The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" "The People's Champion" loses to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 140 tomorrow night (Dec. 10, 2011) in Toronto, he may not be afforded that option.
That's because Ortiz (16-9-1) is 1-5-1 since beating the relevancy out of Ken Shamrock way back in 2006. His most recent defeat, a lopsided technical knockout loss to Rashad Evans at UFC 133, was a clear indication that at 36, he is no longer competitive in the promotion's crowded light heavyweight division.
Whether or not that has to do with his deteriorating physical abilities, or just an influx of well-rounded second-generation fighters, is not clear.
What is clear is that Ortiz recognizes he's in the final stages of a popular combat sports career, and that a win (or loss) in "The Great White North" will go a long way in determing if -- or when -- we see him step inside the Octagon again.
"Well, you know I have two more fights in my contract and I've gone through a lot of things in my history of fighting, surgeries and so forth. I've got three boys. I've got a family to take care of ... I've made my money. I've done my thing in the UFC and there's nothing else I can do in the UFC that I haven't already done. I don't want to have any more injuries ... Let's turn a chapter in my life and get into something a little less physical ... This is the most loneliest sport in the world. Fighting is nothing like no other. The mind games we play with ourselves, the physical games we play with ourselves, it's just like no other. We have our families that support us, our fans that support us, but at the end of the night, we go to bed and we think of the things on our own and it's tough, it's difficult to get through the things we do. Physically, mentally, emotionally, to get into the cage as I do and compete, it takes a strong will to do it and after the surgeries that I've had, it takes a strong will to do it year after year after year. I'm going on 15 years of doing it. I'm the longest competing competitive fighter in UFC history. I've got a couple more fights ahead of me and I'm thinking about it, I'm thinking about retiring and I think it makes sense to retire on my own terms."
Owning a litany of industry "firsts," Ortiz is likely to be remembered as a legendary fighter despite never being able to win "The Big One," having been handily defeated by both Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture in the prime of his career.
He was, however, able to sell the UFC at a time when it couldn't sell itself. Simply put, he put asses in the seats. Win or lose on Saturday night, his place in the history books is undoubtedly secure.
Anyone out there disagree?
For more on Tito's possible retirement click here. For a closer look at his UFC 140 fight against "Little Nog" click here. Lastly, a career retrospective can be found here.