The big mystery of The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 has finally been revealed. For months there has been speculation as to why Tito Ortiz was rumored to have left filming of the show early, and also pulled out of his scheduled fight with fellow TUF coach Chuck Liddell .
In last night’s episode we finally got some answers.
TUF 11 Episode 9
The ninth episode began with Ortiz telling some of his team members that he had been to see his ‘neck doctor’ and that they were recommending that he have surgery.
“One of my medical conditions right now is between c6 – c7 my disc is pressing on my spinal cord. I get numbness down my legs, down my arms..headaches every day…I don’t sleep well,” Ortiz reveals to the camera.
“I’ve been through one surgery before, and if it happens again, it happens again. I still have another five years of competition left. If I keep chancing myself of fighting injured I’m going to hurt myself worse…and I’ve done that, I’ve done that for the last six years and I’m not going to make the same mistake I’ve made before.. I’m not going to let Chuck beat me because I wasn’t 100%, no possible way.”
Towards the end of the show Ortiz reacts angrily to a decision to disqualify one of his fighters for an illegal soccer kick to a grounded opponent. Liddell gets involved and the two have to be held back by their teams as they appear ready to start fighting.
Afterwords Dana White asks to speak to a still heated Liddell.
“This is what I’ve been waiting to tell you. I guess now is a better time than ever. Tito pulled out of the fight,” he says.
“I’m gonna go punch him,” is Liddell’s reaction as the show comes to a close.
So the truth is finally out, and hours later Ortiz released a video blog in which he talked more about the problems he’s been facing, and showed footage of the surgery on his neck being carried out.
“It’s the night before my surgery,” he begins. “I got surgery at 5am here in Las Vegas for my neck. Four months ago…actually three months ago I said my neck was jacked and I was still fighting, I was still putting my ass on the line. I can’t fight hurt anymore. I can’t fight injured and look for excuses. I never want to look for excuses, I always want to win every one of my fights…but here’s another surgery.
“I’ll get fusion C5-C6 in my neck so, I’m scared but you know, Dr Smith is a great doctor and he does great surgeries and my lower back [surgery] was hard but I got through it. They said this probably about 10-15% easier, so I don’t know how much more that is. but this will be the beginning of the last of my neck pain. I’ll have no more neck pain and no more headaches, no more numbness going down my arms, and I’ll be able to train because I was having problems wrestling, hitting mitts and getting punched in the head from The Ultimate Fighter, and that’s pretty much why they fired me the last five days before the Ultimate Fighter was over.”
That last comment from Ortiz confirms that rumors that he had left the show early were true, and it is believed that Rich Franklin steps in to finish of the season as his replacement.
You can watch Ortiz video blog comments, and if you’ve got a strong stomach you can also see footage of his neck injury being performed in the video below.