Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz (17-11-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has long been one of the most recognizable stars in the sport of MMA. He’s also dealt with his share of haters.

And so it was before his Bellator debut, when Ortiz fought Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko at this past May’s Bellator 120 event. Even then-Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney called the matchup a “freak show” fight.

Ortiz was certainly the bigger man going into the matchup, but with just one win in his previous nine outings, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” was a sizable underdog according to the oddsmakers. Then the 39-year-old went in and smashed Shlemenko, taking him to the floor and choking him unconscious in the first round.

Afterward, Ortiz’s critics said he was supposed to win the fight and that the result was hardly impressive. Ortiz heard the public change in tone.

“I believed that I could do it,” Ortiz told MMAjunkie. “I had no problem with it. Many other people didn’t believe I could do it until after I did do it, and then they were like, ‘Oh, you were supposed to win. That was a gimme fight.’ It was just funny because there were so many people talking smack.”

Check out the video above to hear Ortiz talk about the importance of that win and what he hops to accomplish in Bellator before he finally decides to call it a career.

And for more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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