How is it possible that a 40-year-old who was practically left for dead after dropping six of seven fights just before an unceremonious exit from the UFC, now on the doorstep of capturing a light heavyweight title in major mixed martial arts promotion?
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz (pictured) challenges Bellator champ Liam McGeary for his crown Saturday at “Bellator 142: Dynamite.”
Sure, it’s not a UFC belt and Ortiz had to go to a smaller organization with less talented fighters in order to compete for the hardware, but Ortiz still went from washed-up laughingstock to title contender in Bellator.
Winning the belt would be complete vindication for Ortiz, who refuses to discuss retirement after 18 years in the game. Essentially, 2006 marked the beginning of the end for Ortiz. His best days were behind him at that point.
Yet here he is, headlining Bellator’s most significant show under president Scott Coker’s watch and ready to hoist the hardware as if it were 2000 again.
Bellator and Viacom would love nothing more than to have an MMA icon like Ortiz attached to a title. It would bring greater recognition to their brand among casual fans who don’t know the UFC and Bellator are completely different companies.
Ortiz is a 6-1 underdog against McGeary, so the odds aren’t in his favor, but “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has already defied the odds by remaining relevant at this stage of his UFC Hall of Fame career in a young man’s game.
Do you, Tito. Father Time might be undefeated, but he doesn’t have to be your opponent this Saturday.