Tito Ortiz may have signed off on his illustrious mixed martial arts career at Bellator 170 on Saturday night, but at least he ended his 20-year career on a high note with a first round submission victory over Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen’s return after a three-year hiatus had dominated the headlines heading into the fight, but it ended up being Ortiz’s last hurrah that captured the imagination. Ortiz defeated Sonnen via rear naked choke, then looked on as son Jacob ceremoniously placed his gloves in the middle of the cage before both walked off into a literal big screen sunset.
Speaking in the post fight press conference Ortiz insisted although his fighting career his now over he still wants to be involved in the sport he helped build.
“Do I work for the promotion? I’m going to do something MMA, for sure,” Ortiz said. “I will be a part of MMA, 100%, I guarantee you. I have so much in my big head of mine that can give back. And yes, that was a joke toward myself.
“Lions always want to fight. I know what I wanted to do tonight, and I did it the way I wanted to do it. If they ever need anything from me, I’m here – besides fighting.”
Ortiz hopes to help the next generation of fighters coming up and aid the promotion in finding the next big thing. “Find other fighters and build superstars, or come on board Bellator and build superstars,” Ortiz said.
As for the immediate future, Ortiz, who finishes career with a record of 30-14-1, is planning on living the good life away from the daily grind of the life of a fighter. “Being a fighter is not a normal life,” he added. “You’ve got to understand that because we sacrifice so much away from our families, away from our friends. I think I’m going to enjoy life for a couple of months, and then, I don’t know.”
As for Sonnen, it didn’t go according to plan for him on Saturday night and he blamed cage rust as a factor but was determined as ever to get back on the horse and plans on fulfilling his six fight contract.
He said: “Tonight’s helpful for me. I’ve been out for three years, and this was a long-term play. For me, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. I need to get those minutes in, and I thought I did it in the practice room, and I had some deer-in-the-headlights out there.
“Tito threw a right hand right down the middle right off the bat. After three years, it’s just the way that it goes. I’ll be in the practice room on Monday, and we’ll just use it to get better.”