UFC president Dana White said before the fight even happened that Saturday night’s bout against Rashad Evans at UFC 133 in Philadelphia would not be a win-or-go-home fight for Tito Ortiz.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion agreed to the fight on just three weeks notice, facing the current number one contender to the 205-pound throne. He didn’t win, but the fight garnered Evans and Ortiz $70,000 each for Fight of the Night honors.
White’s not bestowing such honors on a fighter he’s ready to give the boot.
“I can’t say enough good things about how good Rashad looked tonight and Tito fought an awesome fight, worthy of Fight of the Night,” commented the brash promoter.
So when questions started flying about whether or not Ortiz would call it a day, The fighter was emphatic in his response, making no excuses for the loss to Evans.
“I came here and gave it my all. I got nothing to hold back. Rashad beat me at my best. Rashad is the better man,” Ortiz said in the Octagon, adding, “100 percent, I’ll be back.”
He won’t be back quite as quickly as his last turn, however. Ortiz defeated Ryan Bader at UFC 132 on July 2, just before accepting Saturday night’s fight.
“I want to fight before the year is over, for sure,” he said at the UFC 133 post-fight press conference. “I’m gonna take about a month off, go on vacation, enjoy my family, enjoy my businesses, get right back in the gym, and hop on that horse again.”
Many had thought that because of his age, Ortiz was in a fight-by-fight situation when deciding whether or not to continue his career. He doesn’t appear to be looking at it that way.
Injury free for the first time in a long, even though he lost to Evans, Ortiz has relished fighting without the nagging issues that had plagued him for years. He’s not ready to let his age, 36 years old, dictate his career now that he feels like a much younger man that he did just two short years ago.
“I been here since ’97. I’m still fighting. I’m still hungry. I still want to fight. I fought a number one contender tonight. I fought my ass off. Rashad was the better man tonight,” Ortiz stated.
“I’m young still. I just turned 36. I still got a lot of fight left in me.”
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Ken Pishna is the managing editor of MMAWeekly.com.
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