Whether you cheer or jeer him, Tito Ortiz has spilled his blood, sweat and tears to help mixed martial arts (MMA) become the fastest growing sport in the world, assisting Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in the early days to help it become the entertainment juggernaut that it is today.
From being one of the sports earliest stars to being the owner of the most consecutive title defenses in the UFC's Light Heavyweight division and a future Hall of Famer, "The People's Champ" is -- and always will be -- one of the true pioneers of the sport when it's all said and done.
Sure, he has had a dreadful run since 2008, going a mere 1-5, but come UFC 148 on July 7, 2012, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ortiz is determined to go out on top in what will be his swan song against Forrest Griffin, even if it means someone has to carry him out of the Octagon:
"It's my whole legacy, it's what I've been doing the last 15 years. It's time to showcase my skills of knowing that I'm still one of the top ten guys of the Light Heavyweight division. Forrest comes to fight me. That's why I asked to fight him, cuz he comes in to fight. He ain't going in there looking for points. But, he's the bully, I'm not going to let it happen, no way. Being up in a Big Bear, you get that heart of a lion. It's what warriors do man. They get away, they put themselves in isolation and they train on something that they love to do and I love to fight. I am here to die for my cause. Someone is going to have to carry me out of there cuz I ain't giving up. I'm pushing right through his punches. No respect on his punches, I'm going to blast right through him. I am going to test his chin and I'm going to hit it over and over. I'm going to damage him, I'm going to try and hurt him. I'm a fighter. I fight for a living. I fight for my family, I fight for my fans and I fight for myself. When I step into the cage, it's not about the money, it's about me getting my hand raised knowing that I'm the best guy that night. I will defeat Forrest Griffin within two rounds. I hope he is ready for a war because I am ready for a war. When I walk away, people are going to say, "Holy Sh**, Tito Ortiz shouldn't be going anywhere right now."
In what has truly been a roller coaster ride with the UFC, Ortiz hasn't always been on the best of terms with the promotion, mainly UFC president Dana White. However, amidst all the drama and squabbles between he and White -- coupled with much publicized rivalries with Ken Shamrock and Chuck Liddell -- when Ortiz was involved, love him or hate him, you more than likely tuned in to see it all unfold.
Come Fourth of July weekend, at UFC 148, you will more than likely tune in one final time. Even if it's because the "rematch of the century" -- Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen -- is atop the marquee.
Hear from Ortiz himself after the jump (via UFC.com):
For more on the upcoming farewell fight between Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin be sure to hit our extensive archive right here.