Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz went under the knife on Monday in an attempt to relieve pain from his lower back. Ortiz states that he has been dealing with a significant back problem since his bout against current UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture back in 2003. The pain has just escalated each and every month, making it more difficult to train and fight. In a letter to MMAWeekly.com, Ortiz goes into detail about the procedure, the UFC’s unwillingness to pay for the medical expenses for the injury that occurred on company time, and how he will be back better than ever.
This was the biggest decision of my career… back surgery.
Since the Randy Couture fight, I have had lower back problems. Each fight it got worse. I have made it through the last eight fights by physical therapy, methylprednisolone pills, and spinal injections for the last three fights.
I fought injured time and time again for the fans. After the Rashad (Evans) fight, I told the fight doctor I was having excruciating back pain. It was so bad that my security had to carry me from the Octagon to my dressing room to the press conference and back.
This continued for the next four months. If anyone has had back pain, you know the pain I deal with. It got to be so bad that I was barely able to get up off the couch or drive for longer than 20 minutes.
Now try to imagine training for eight hours a day and having to fight formidable opponents like Rashad, and (Lyoto) Machida. From November of 2007 to May of 2008, I did two separate injections and worked my ass off in physical therapy so I was able to fight Machida.
During the second round of the fight I felt the same pain as I did in the Rashad fight. After the fight, I told the fight doctor I was having back pain. It never got better. I didn’t want to fall into the terrible life of having to take painkillers in order to be capable of making it through training.
I simply refuse to fall into that trap. I started to look into other ways to help my back pain. I have done everything from rehab to injections to make it better and nothing has succeeded.
I was made aware that Nate Quarry had the same problem as me and got surgery. He fought nine months after surgery and did it with power and quickness. I started to look for doctors to see how they could help me.
I researched four different back doctors and all of their techniques seemed brutal and risky. I saw that Nate was operated on by NuVasive out of San Diego. I spent a day at the office going over all the positives and negatives. All the positives outweighed the negatives.
The doctor that I went with was Dr. William Smith.
The kicker to this whole story is that the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) denied my claim for coverage of my debilitating back injury OBVIOUSLY acquired in the Octagon. This was the last kick in the gut made by the UFC.
After all of the battling, and allegiance I pledged to them, they now have stooped so low as to not give me the medical care I so desperately needed. I am not surprised at there last effort to hurt me, so I took it upon myself to get surgery in hopes that my fight career will jump back on track and I will be back to the explosive monster I always have been.
On Oct. 6, 2008, my extensive back surgery was performed in Las Vegas by Dr. Smith. It lasted three hours due to the doctor’s careful hand and my densely muscled core that had to be separated in order to get to my spine. My doctor was impressed with my quick recovery, and an hour after surgery I was on my feet and walking to the car.
This is now the beginning of a new era. There will never be a question again about where my heart lies… and that is with my fans.
I am focused on a quick recovery, and I will be back in the cage with a renewed outlook on fighting.
I am a new Tito Ortiz… one with a bright fight future… one ready to power through the light heavyweight class and get the belt around my waist again.
Mark my words… the best is yet to come.
– Tito “The Huntington Beach Badboy” Ortiz