The Huntington Beach Bad Boy: A look back at Tito Ortiz's five greatest fightsPosted on July 1, 2012, 03:04 PM by Mike Drahota
With Tito Ortiz being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame prior to UFC 148, now is a great time to look back at the impressive body of work put forth by Ortiz. While many newer fans of MMA have seen Ortiz weather many storms that have impeded his momentum, there was a time when he was a nigh-unbeatable champion in the Light Heavyweight division. Before injuries, age, and a bitter feud with UFC President Dana White got the best of the former champion, Ortiz used a brutal mix of wrestling, conditioning, and ground-and-pound to beat his opponents into submission. With many great battles under his belt, let's take a look at the five greatest fights of Ortiz's storied career, starting with number five:
Submission loss to Frank Shamrock at UFC 22
The only loss that will grace this list took place on September 24, 1999 from Lake Charles, Louisiana. This was the first bout that Ortiz ever fought with a title on the line. While he did not emerge victorious, succumbing to the strikes of the legendary Frank Shamrock in the fourth round, the wealth of experience Ortiz gained in his loss served him for the rest of his career. He returned motivated and hungry to win, and achieved his goal of becoming champion soon thereafter. This fight was named the 1999 Fight of the Year.
KO victory over Evan Tanner at UFC 30
Ortiz entered this bout on top of the world, having won the UFC Light Heavyweight championship the previous year and defended it once against Yuki Kondo. The late, great Evan Tanner was always a game fighter who never backed down, but on this night, victory was to come Ortiz's way in a destructive fashion. The fight didn't last long, as Ortiz scored an early body lock and slammed Tanner to the mat, knocking him out cold and notching one of his career's signature wins. The video of this fight will always live on strong in the vaults of UFC highlight reels.
Submission victory over Ryan Bader at UFC 132
Ortiz came into UFC 132 in Las Vegas with his job on the line. Facing powerful wrestler Ryan Bader, who had only previously lost to champion Jon Jones, Ortiz was on a cold streak. Having lost four out of his last five fights, even a legend like Ortiz needed to win to keep fighting in the UFC. No one gave him much of a chance against the younger Bader, but Ortiz didn't care. He rocked Bader up close with a right hand early on, following him to the ground and finishing him with a guillotine choke in the first round. That night we saw Ortiz's gravedigger celebration for the first time in a long while.
Split Decision victory over Forrest Griffin at UFC 59
On April 15, 2006, Ortiz faced Forrest Griffin, a Light Heavyweight who was riding high on momentum after winning the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter the prior year. Ortiz himself was on a streak of his own, beating Patrick Cote and the famous Vitor Belfort in his previous two bouts. The matchup was a great one on paper, and did not fail to deliver in the actual Octagon. Neither fighter was willing to give an inch, and refused to be finished. Two great Light Heavyweights fought to a close Split Decision here, so close that the bout was named the 2006 Fight of the Year. For Ortiz, it showed that he could still beat the up-and-coming fighters, and put another signature win under his belt.
Unanimous Decision victory over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 25
This fight from Japan is the crowning achievement of Tito Ortiz's career because it was the very first time he got his hands around the coveted UFC Light Heavyweight belt. It was also a convincing win over a future champion in Silva, who would go on to dominate Pride FC with a vicious run few could ever parallel. After losing his first title shot to Frank Shamrock, April 14, 2000, was to be Tito Ortiz's time to shine. Ortiz would go on to defend his belt five times, catapulting him into MMA stardom and cementing his legacy as a UFC legend.
Tito Ortiz has no doubt carved a place in the history books of MMA. Love or hate him, his outspoken personality and effective fighting style helped bring the UFC to the prominence it enjoys to this day. He will always be remembered for his wrestling, insane conditioning, and infamous ground-and-pound techniques. Regardless of whatever slide he may have experienced as of late, Ortiz was a great champion who will take his well-deserved spot in the UFC Hall of Fame next weekend. Ortiz will be remembered for his emphatic title run and subsequent defenses, not for his feud with Dana White. That hatchet has apparently been buried, as Ortiz valiantly stepped up to face Rashad Evans at UFC 133, only a month after facing and defeating Ryan Bader. The Huntington Beach Bad Boy was always a game fighter, and will go down in history as a true warrior.