tito-ortiz-23.jpgHave Tito Ortiz‘s comeback flirtations ended, or just hit a brief pause?

Just one day after getting the media all atwitter about returning to the cage, possibly to fight in Bellator, the UFC Hall of Famer’s message today was: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch! Damn time to look else where. #Positive.”

Of course, Ortiz could just as easily be talking about a lottery ticket as a fight contract. But still, his recent messages are something of a departure from his role as a retired champ turned manager.

In May, Ortiz gave the impression that family was far more important than a return to the octagon, where he left the sport in July 2012 with a 16-11-1 record.

“As far as the glory, I don’t miss any of that stuff at all I’ve been doing it for 15 years, and I still can’t walk around without somebody asking for a picture or an autograph or just saying what’s up,” he said in an interview with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Maybe at some point I’ll get that feeling of wanting to compete again, but right now I’m pretty satisfied with what I’m doing with my children. My kids are my No. 1. My family, when I grew up, there was nothing there. I’m going to make sure my kids are No. 1.”

But this week, the 38-year-old ex-champ gave strong impressions that he is prepared to play the field in a comeback to the UFC or its chief rival. A quickly deleted message even featured Ortiz at the steps of Bellator’s office in Southern California, which is a short drive from Ortiz’s longtime residence in Huntington Beach.

“Nice 2be a free agent,” Ortiz wrote on Twitter. “Need 2make a big decision 4my future 4my kids future. Nice 2 have a great surrounding and 2be healthy.#Positive 7yrs.”

With a history of flirtations with promotions other than the UFC, including a very close brush with the now-defunct EliteXC, Ortiz’s messages largely have been met with skepticism.

And yet with his body apparently on the mend after multiple neck and knee surgeries, the fighter is getting back into the type of shape that could make fighting possible. Among his tweets was a shirtless self-portrait that showed he isn’t exactly “The Huntington Beach Flab Boy.”

“I’m just trying to get my physical being back together,” Ortiz said in May. “It’s been a long road of recovery. I started training a little bit, just lifting some weights to try and get my body back in shape.”

Ortiz acknowledged the tug of competition looking from the outside in.

“You just see how good the talent is getting,” he said. “Guys are getting so much better, and you can see how great the sport has become.”

A return undoubtedly would bring attention to whatever promotion wants to employ Ortiz, who’s a consummate promoter with more name recognition than some of the sport’s current top fighters. Now, it’s just a matter of whether he’s serious about reigniting his career.

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