Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz will be the next fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame prior to retirement fight with Forrest Griffin at UFC 148 next month.
UFC president Dana White confirmed the news following the UFC 150 press conference yesterday, with Ortiz set to receive the honor at the UFC Expo in Las Vegas on July 6th, the day before his final fight.
While his final few years in the promotion have had more downs than ups there’s no doubt that ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ deserves this accolade for his achievements in a career that began some fifteen years ago all the way back at UFC 13.
With his distinctive look, outspoken attitude and deadly ground and pound, Ortiz became a genuine superstar in the sport, winning the 205lb title in 2000 after defeating Wanderlei Silva before going on to defend it a further five times in a row, defeating the likes of Evan Tanner, Vladimir Matyushenko and Ken Shamrock along the way before finally losing to Randy Couture.
Though he was never able to regain that title he would go on to fight in some of the biggest and most significant fights in UFC history, including a rematch with Chuck Liddell for the belt at UFC 66 which drew over a million pay-per-view buys and posted a $5,397,000 gate in Las Vegas – a figure that to this day remains unmatched in the UFC’s spiritual home of Nevada.
Ortiz is also renowned for his infamously rocky relationship with UFC president Dana White who was also his manager early in his career. At one stage the bad blood between them became so heated that they agreed to fight each other in a boxing match, but that never materialized and they have since buried the hatchet.
Despite their differences over the years White acknowledged yesterday that Ortiz had been an integral part of the UFC at a crucial stage in it’s growth in the early part of this century.
“He pound for pound was doing some of the most damage at a time when we were hurting,” White told MMAWeekly. “But it’s part of our history the way the storylines played out between me, Chuck and Tito. He’s definitely a part of the history of the sport.”
Ortiz now joins eight other fighters currently residing in the UFC’s ‘Hall Of Fame’ which includes three former foes of the 37 year-old in Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Ken Shamrock.