Ortiz has run out of steam

Antonio Nogueira takes Tito Ortiz to the ground during UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto,...

Antonio Nogueira takes Tito Ortiz to the ground during UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Dec. 10, 2011. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:32 PM ET

TORONTO - Former light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz said this week he wants to go out on his own terms. After his one-sided loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 140 on Saturday night, the decision might not be his to make.

Nogueira finished the crowd favourite at just 3:15 of the first round, with the ref stepping in to stop the carnage.

Ortiz said in the octagon after the fight that he still wants to complete his contract which now has one fight remaining on it. He also says he would like to fight next year, making it 15 years in the UFC, and go up against Forrest Griffin in a rematch.

Had he disposed of Nogueira at the Air Canada Centre, he could have had all those things. Now his future will be left in the hands of UFC president Dana White. It was Ortiz’s fifth loss in his past six fights.

Chants of “Tito, Tito” rang through the ACC as Ortiz entered the ring and continued as he came out with a flourish, landing a kick and following it up with some stinging punches.

But the self-proclaimed People’s Champion seemed to run out of steam and Lil’ Nog took advantage.

The Brazilian landed a left hand on Ortiz’s chin and then followed it up with a powerful knee to the sternum which sent the former Huntington Beach Bad Boy crumbling to the mat. Nogueira jumped on top of the Californian and inflicted some vicious ground and pound.

Nogueira landed blow after blow while Tito lay on his back just trying to survive. Even with the crowd trying to spur him on with more chants of “Tito, Tito,” Ortiz could not extradite himself from Nogueira’s bruising attack. After multiple blows to Ortiz’s head and ribs, the ref stopped the fight.

Ortiz lay on the mat in pain for several minutes before finally getting to his feet and seemed to be favouring his ribs, which may have been broken.

“He caught me clean in the same place Rashad did,” Ortiz said referring to his loss to Rashad Evans at UFC 133. “He is the true champ. I take my hat off to him. That body shot hurt me. My game plan was to get on top and do a ground-and-pound. I gave it my all. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I’m going to take some time off and enjoy the holidays with my family. I have one more fight in my contract. I’m going to give the fans one more fight that is my best.”

Nogueira, a bronze medallist in boxing for Brazil at the 2007 Pan American Games, was desperate for a victory after having lost back-to-back fights to Phil Davis and Ryan Bader. And he got it here. The win secures Lil’ Nog at least one more fight in the octagon, and also sets him back on the path to title contention.

“I feel so great. It’s like a dream come true. Tito Ortiz is a legend of this sport, so I’m very, very happy. I wanted this win badly,” Nogueira said. “I knew he was going to come out aggressive because in his last two fights he came out that way. Once we took it to the ground I got on top and gave it my all.”

Ortiz’s future is a little more uncertain. But chances are White will let him fight out his contract since he is one of the last of the great originals.

Ortiz came onto the scene at UFC 13 on May 30, 1997, the same time Hall of Famer Randy Couture first fought for the organization. And for a stretch it seemed like Ortiz was simply unbeatable.

He won the light-heavyweight belt off Wanderlei Silva at UFC 125 in 2000 and didn’t relinquish it until UFC 44 in 2003 when he lost to Couture.

Ortiz defended the light-heavyweight belt a record five consecutive times, and after Saturday night’s bout has made more octagon appearances than any other fighter with 26.

And while he has been both loved and hated during his storied career, Ortiz never ducked anybody.

If it is the last we have seen of Ortiz, it’s the last of a true octagon great.


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