Ortiz wants to go out a winner

Tito Ortiz (above) is set to cap his remarkable MMA career Saturday night in Las Vegas when he...

Tito Ortiz (above) is set to cap his remarkable MMA career Saturday night in Las Vegas when he meets Forrest Griffin in his final fight. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency file photo)

NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:43 AM ET

TORONTO - It can be argued that Tito Ortiz picked both the best and worst UFC event to have his final MMA fight.

On the one hand, the highly anticipated main event between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen will translate to more eyeballs witnessing his last trip to the octagon, when he faces rival Forrest Griffin at UFC 148 in Las Vegas Saturday.

On the flip side, the People’s Champ and Griffin have been overshadowed by potentially the biggest fight in UFC history.

Ortiz said he isn’t concerned with the amount of media attention he receives. He’s only focused on going out with a win.

“No, not at all,” Ortiz began. “This is about the UFC. My job is to fight and on July 7, I’ll fight. I’m going to fight with my heart, I’m going to fight with my soul and I’m going to get my hand raised.

“This fight means the world to me. It’ll show on July 7 how much it means to me. I’m not coming in playing around. I’m not coming in talking smack. I’m coming in to fight. I know Forrest is ready. I’m ready. So let’s fight.”

Ortiz began his MMA career by entering the UFC 13 lightweight tournament as an alternate in 1997. At the time, lightweight was 200 pounds and under.

Ortiz scored a 31-second TKO victory over Wes Albritton before replacing an injured Enson Inoue in the final, where he was submitted by Guy Mezger. He went on to avenge the loss at UFC 19 two years later.

After failing in his attempt to dethrone then middleweight (199 pounds) champion Frank Shamrock at UFC 22 in 1999, Ortiz won the vacant strap via unanimous decision over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 25 seven months later. During his reign, the title was renamed the light-heavyweight championship and the weight limit was bumped up to 205 pounds.

Ortiz still holds the record for most successful light-heavyweight title defences at five. He will also be remembered for his legendary feuds with Chuck Liddell and Ken Shamrock.

Prior to his third bout with Griffin, Ortiz will become the eighth fighter inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

“Being inducted into the Hall of Fame, I’m very grateful to (UFC president) Dana (White) and (UFC chairman and CEO) Lorenzo Fertitta for presenting this to me,” Ortiz said. “I think it’s just a qualification, just showing the hard work and dedication I put into MMA and the UFC, that I’ve grown and become the person I am today, and I’m thankful for it.”

Surprisingly, Ortiz may not be alone in calling it quits. Last month, Griffin hinted at retirement if he loses his weekend.

“A lot of people ask me, they say ‘Forrest, it’s Tito’s retirement fight. If you lose to Tito, are you going to retire?’ ” Griffin said. “If I lose to Tito, I’m going to retire from life. Seriously.”

The two originally met at UFC 59 in 2006, a bout that saw Ortiz win a split decision. Griffin evened the score three and a half years later, snagging a split decision of his own at UFC 106.

However, both former light-heavyweight champions are coming off losses.

Griffin was knocked out by Mauricio (Shogun) Rua 11 months ago, while Ortiz has suffered back-to-back TKO defeats to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Rashad Evans.

Griffin said he is focused on preventing consecutive losses.

“Obviously, we have some history,” Griffin said. “The thing is, you can’t over-prepare for a fight like this. His last couple fights haven’t gone the way he’s wanted them to and I’m coming off the same thing. My whole thing is to never lose two in a row.”

With his training camp behind him, Ortiz said all that is left is for him to enjoy a fight 15 years in the making. Though he expects an emotional exit from the sport, he has his game face on until the final bell.

“I think it’s just preparation, preparing for the fight of your life,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been waiting 15 years for (these) 15 minutes. Only 15 minutes of my life that I have to give.

“I know who Forrest is. I know how he fights. I know how he likes to fight. I’m trying to absorb as much as I possibly can for the next week (and) continuing with this winning mentality.”

D-FENCE!

Tito Ortiz holds the record for most successful UFC light-heavyweight title defences.

Fighter – Won by – Event

Yuki Kondo – submission – UFC 29

Evan Tanner – knockout – UFC 30

Elvis Sinosic – technical KO – UFC 32

Vladimir Matyushenko – unanimous decision – UFC 33

Ken Shamrock – technical KO – UFC 40

SONNEN IN SILVA'S HEAD?

Georges (Rush) St. Pierre thinks Chael Sonnen is inside Anderson Silva’s head.

“He wants to get into Anderson Silva’s head and he did it,” St. Pierre told Sportsnet.ca. “That’s what he wants, because when you fight with emotion, you don’t fight smart.

“The crowd, they love it. (Silva) he’s going to go crazy, but (you) can make a mistake if you do that. It’s a big mistake.”

After years of downplaying his frustration over Sonnen’s trash talk, Silva finally snapped on a recent media call, claiming he will break the former NCAA Division I wrestler’s arms, legs and teeth. The two also had to be separated at a press conference Tuesday.

St. Pierre said Silva needs to regain his focus if he hopes to keep his title.

“You have to go back to the reason he’s a champion,” St. Pierre said. “And the reason he’s a champion is because he fights smart, he’s skilled. More skilled than the other guys. He brings the fight where he is the best. He doesn’t go crazy.

“That’s what Chael Sonnen wants from him.”

BISPING AIMS FOR TORONTO

Not only is Michael Bisping aiming for a fall return, he’s got Toronto in his sights.

Following successful knee surgery three weeks ago, the TUF 3 winner expressed an interest in facing either Alan Belcher or Brian Stann during an appearance on UFC Tonight.

“I was speaking to Joe Silva, UFC matchmaker, quite recently, and I’m hoping to fight at UFC 152 in Toronto (Sept. 22),” Bisping said. “(I suggested) a couple of potential match-ups, one being Brian Stann. I know he’s got a shoulder injury, so I’m not sure if that will make it or not. But I’d like to fight Brian — he’s an incredible fighter, and certainly somebody who would move me toward a title shot.

“And a second one is Alan Belcher. Alan Belcher is someone who has been calling me out for it seems like forever now. And to be quite frank, I’m sick of it. So Alan Belcher, if your balls are big enough, call Joe Silva and let’s do it.”

Bisping was set to face Tim Boetsch at UFC 149 in Calgary July 21, but was forced under the knife to repair a slight tear in his meniscus.

NEXT STOP: CHINA

China is the next stop on the UFC’s global expansion tour.

The world’s largest MMA promotion will head to Macau Nov. 10 for UFC on FUEL TV 6. No fights have been announced for the card.

“Breaking into a market with a population of over 1.3 billion is both a testament to the growth of our sport and a long-term challenge we are excited to undertake,” UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said.

“This is just the first of many world-class fights we plan to hold over the coming years in China, one of the birthplaces of martial arts. The world-class CotaiArena in Macau is an ideal place to start this journey.”

Located off the mainland’s southern coast. Macau is one of two special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong.

China marks the 12th country to play host to a UFC event. Since its inception, the organization has held shows in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Puerto Rico, Germany, England, Ireland and Australia.

WANDY WINDING DOWN

UFC president Dana White feels Wanderlei Silva’s career is just about done.

“I think Wanderlei is coming to the end,” White told MMA Junkie. “I think he knows that, too. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all get old, and this is a young man’s game. We’ll see what happens.

“I’m not saying he needs to retire, but he’s getting close.”

During his prime, the former PRIDE champion was one of the most feared fighters on the planet. Known for his aggressive and violent style, Silva engaged in some of the most legendary fights in MMA history.

But all those wars came with a price.

Silva has only won three of his last 10 bouts, suffering four highlight-reel knockouts to Chris Leben, Quinton (Rampage) Jackson, Dan Henderson and Mirko (CroCop) Filipovic. His most recent outing saw him drop an exciting unanimous decision to Rich Franklin at UFC 147 last month.

White said the MMA legend will remain a part of the UFC even after he hangs them up.

“Wanderlei Silva for so many years was my arch enemy over at PRIDE,” White said.

“But since he’s set his foot in the UFC ... he’s been a great guy. We love him, and he’s a local here in Las Vegas, so he’ll be around for a while one way or another.”


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