At Bellator 170: "Ortiz vs. Sonnen," which took place last night (Sat., Jan. 21, 2017) at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., Tito Ortiz ended his mixed martial arts (MMA) career on a high note, forcing Chael Sonnen to tap to a rear-naked choke at 2:03 of the first round (watch highlights here). But, "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" did cause a bit of controversy after he refused to let go of the submission hold long after "American Gangster" gave up. In fact, it took long-time referee John McCarthy to step in a and break the hold.
After the fight, Ortiz explained the reason behind his unsportsmanlike actions.
"I’m super strong, and if I can get that choke, it doesn’t have to be under the chin," he said during the post-fight presser (video replay here). "I can get it and I can crush it. My core is super strong and I just squeezed. When he was tapping, I thought he was trying to grab my hands. But, I kind of held onto it because I have ill will toward him. But, that’s just me. If someone talks about my family, someone talks about my character, I have bad ill toward the person, and I have never done it like that."
That said, Ortiz -- who had a bitter war of words with Sonnen prior to the bout -- admits he didn’t want to chance letting go of the hold too early.
"But, it was just something in my mind that, if I let go and they stop and restart it again, I ain’t going to let this happen," he said. "But, I apologize to that athletic commission for holding on to it it longer, but I did hold on to it longer. I had ill will and I felt like an animal, like a lion and this lion roared how I said I was going to. This was my fight no matter what. This is what I was going to do," he concluded.
At least he’s honest.
As for Sonnen, he isn’t too upset at the fact that Ortiz refused to let the submission go in appropriate time.
"Well, yeah I tapped and he didn’t let go. I’m not upset about it and I don’t have any ill feelings toward him. But yes, did he hold the choke after I tapped? Sure."
Whether or not the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) punishes Ortiz remains to be seen. Of course, a suspension won’t mean much since Ortiz is now officially retired, but a monetary fine will sure hurt a bit.
For complete Bellator 170: "Ortiz vs. Sonnen" results, including play-by-play updates, click here.