I don’t mean to call out UFC President Dana White, but he did state something about Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans following a press conference at UFC 73 that went “we have to see a rematch between Tito and Rashad. It was a good fight…The rematch will happen almost immediately. They will not fight anyone else in between.” Since we now know that Evans will be facing Michael Bisping and not Tito Ortiz at UFC 78, obviously things have changed a little since Whites infamous quote.
Regardless of how Matt Hamill, the fans, or anyone else feels about the current match up of Evans and Bisping, the fate of one Tito Ortiz remains open. At 32 years old, Tito Ortiz is by no means at retirement age, but is still no spring chicken in the world of mixed martial arts. It’s important to remember that while stars like Randy Couture continue to put on great shows, most MMA competitors simply don’t have that kind of shelf life due to injuries (which Tito seems to get plenty of) and management politics. Speaking of which, unless Ortiz has negotiated a new deal with Zuffa, then he only has one fight remaining on his current UFC contract. Since that fight is no longer the rematch we thought would happen, Tito’s next and potentially final bout in the UFC comes with significant extra baggage.
Unfortunately on paper, Tito Ortiz does not look like someone on the rise, but on the decline. Repeatedly unable to reclaim his light-heavyweight title after losing it in 2003, Tito’s only non-split decision wins in the last three years come from his fights with Ken “Over The Hill” Shamrock, and one majority decision over Patrick Cote back in 2004.
Given his reputation for “ducking” certain fights in the past, Ortiz might have more confidence in facing the recently defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. This could be an ideal match for both fighters since Tito claims he needs more time to fully recoup from injuries, and Shogun definitely needs significant recovery time after his knee surgery. Ortiz might also consider the proven yet lackluster Ryoto Machida since Machida recently made news by calling out Keith Jardine. However I personally discourage Machida against Tito since Ryoto Machida just doesn’t produce very exciting fights, though Ortiz may feel differently.
For the long time MMA fan, the rematch between Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva would probably be the most rewarding, and highly entertaining at the least. Unfortunately this option is far from a reality since speculation still heavily favors Silva fighting Chuck Liddell in December. I’d also like to throw Dan Henderson into the mix, but something tells me that Ortiz wants nothing to do with that kind of match up.
While Ortiz remains a favorite among countless MMA fans, the fans unfortunately do not get to pick his opponents. So as long as Tito’s stamp of approval is required, then fans will likely never get to see the match up they had in mind. It would definitely be great to see Tito against a Dan Henderson or Mauricio Rua, but it could just as easily be Keith Jardine, or maybe even a rematch with Forrest Griffin. Whoever Tito ultimately faces off against, the MMA community will be expecting one hell of a show since we were denied his anticipated rematch with Evans, and since it just may be Tito’s last performance inside the octagon.