Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, who is currently recovering from successful back surgery, states that he is once again close to signing a contract with a major MMA organization. Just last month, the free agent all but assured MMA fans that he was going to sign a lucrative deal with EliteXC. However, with the company now on the cusp of filing for bankruptcy, the only “major” players left would be Affliction Entertainment or the UFC. Ortiz plans to fight again by July 2009.
“It’s either going to be with the UFC or it’s going to be with Affliction, but guaranteed, you guys will see me fight — no matter what — by July,” states Ortiz.
Most signs would indicate that the controversial fighter would be heading to Affliction. He has a great relationship with the promotion, and was seen sitting front row with its executive vice president and friend, Donald Trump, at the promotion’s only MMA event in July.
It is hard to believe that Ortiz hasn’t burned all of his bridges with the UFC, the only promotion that he has ever fought for. Ortiz and UFC president Dana White have only expanded upon their decade-long feud since Ortiz’ contract expired in May.
White stated that, “I am out of the Tito Ortiz business,” after the embattled fighter left the Octagon, for what seemed to be the last time, after his loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 84.
It has been a month since Ortiz went under the knife to relieve pain in his lower back. He states that he has been dealing with significant back problems 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.
The surgery that he underwent was similar to the one that UFC fighter Nate Quarry had, which sidelined him for 15 months. However, Ortiz is confident that he will be fighting again before July.
Ortiz is still a polarizing figure in the sport, and remains one of its most popular fighters. However, he has posted two losses and a draw in his last three MMA bouts, and it can be argued that he hasn’t won a significant fight in over three years.