Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009 | midnight
- Vitor Belfort is back, TKOs Rich Franklin in first round
- UFC 103 Slideshow
- Vitor Belfort puts on phenomenal performance in UFC return
- White not impressed with Mayweather’s comeback victory
- Breaking down UFC 103: Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort
- Vitor Belfort, Efrain Escudero miss mark at UFC 103 weigh-ins
- UFC 103: Breakdown and Picks
- Naturally UFC 103 event is larger in Lonestar State
- Fireside chat with Dana White
- Video: The Return of "The Phenom"
- Bonus machine Tyson Griffin not worried about cash award in bout with Hermes Franca
- Frank Trigg eyeing one last title run
- Rich Franklin not thinking about title shots
- Mirko Filipovic back for good
- Video: UFC 103: Prepare for the Unexpected
- Complete UFC 103 coverage
All Tito Ortiz could do was laugh last week when he saw the gift presented to him from a fan during a UFC Fight Club Q&A session in Dallas before UFC 103.
The black T-shirt simply read: “Dana is my Bo$$,” drawing a big roar from the crowd for its play on b-words to the famous shirt that the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" wore when he and UFC boss Dana White were having their long war.
But the 34-year-old Ortiz promised the crowd that the new slogan was not only accurate, but also truly significant now that the former light heavyweight champ is back with the promotion where he started his MMA career in 1997 at UFC 13.
“I'm really happy, and I know that a lot of fans are happy, that me and Dana White's thing is behind us now," said Ortiz, whose last fight in the UFC was a loss to 205-pound champ Lyoto Machida in May 2008.
"I love Dana like a brother, and brothers fight. At the end of the day, I look at it now, and we're going to give fans the best fights possible. Dana has been a man of his word, and me and him, we talk all the time. It's awesome to have someone behind me where I started my career.”
The fan favorite also ensured UFC faithful that despite the rumblings that he may sign with other organizations like Strikeforce or Affliction, those rumors were all talk.
"To let all you guys know, I wasn't going anywhere," Ortiz said. "I wasn't going to Strikeforce, I wasn't going anywhere. That was all negotiating tactics.
"I'm smart. I don't have managers telling me what to do. I make my own decisions, but it's all tactics."
Ortiz’ newest tactic is getting back into the Octagon and regaining his 205-pound title.
"I'm still in the running at 34-years-old," said Ortiz, who sports a 15-6-1 overall MMA record, with only one of those bouts coming outside the UFC.
"You look at (Randy) Couture at 46, (Chuck) Liddell being 40. I'm still only 34. I've got a lot of stuff to learn, a lot of stuff to do, and a lot of stuff to conquer. I want to be champion again."
Getting back in shape
Ortiz, who had surgery last fall to repair bulging disks in his back, says he’s completely recovered from the injury that bothered him for several years.
“For the first time actually in six years I’m able to train through three training (sessions) a day over the last six weeks,” said Ortiz, demonstrating the effects of the procedure by bending his back up and down and even jumping off the stage.
“I can wake up for once and my whole body hurts, but not my back.”
He compared the successful, and expensive ($250,000), surgery to buying a flashy car.
“To wake up every single day with no back problems. To wake up and not have to take Vicodin, to wake up and not have to ice my back after training, it’s the best feeling in the world,” he said. “It’s like waking up to a brand new car you just bought and driving it around and having everyone checking you out. I got a new car!”
Taking on a legend
Ortiz says he's already prepared for UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman in his return match set for UFC 106 on Nov. 21 at Mandalay Bay, and he wants to make a statement with a big win.
“I’m gonna crush him. I’m gonna push the tempo like he’s never had the tempo pushed against him,” Ortiz said. “I watched him fight Fedor Emelianenko. I watched how afraid he was to stand with him.
“Let’s see if he wants to stand with me. I’m not afraid of him. To me he’s more of a mummy and less of a ‘Hammer.’”
Despite the brash statements, Ortiz says he does respect the 44-year-old former UFC heavyweight champ.
“It's kind of weird, I sit there and I look at the matchup — him being a college wrestler, an Olympic wrestler, somebody that I've looked up to in my career," Ortiz said. "He started about a year-and-a-half before I started my career, and I see him as a ground and pound specialist. My own forte is to kind of take guys down and ground and pound them. Give the fans what they want to see. That's what I do.”
"I think it's just a full circle that comes around. Everything happens for a reason in this world.”
In March, Ortiz’ girlfriend, former adult film actress and Las Vegas native Jenna Jameson, had twin boys. Ortiz joked that while the two have been a handful at times, the children, Jesse and Journey, have brought a new-found joy to both of their lives.
“I have a good girl. Jenna does an awesome job as a mother. She’s always wanted to be a mother and she’s doing an awesome job right now,” Ortiz said.
“There’s nothing like it in the world, it’s everything I’ve always wanted. I’ve got two little wrestlers, I’ve also got a 7-year-old, of course, and I got my own wrestling team.”
When a 12-year-old from San Antonio asked Ortiz what he thought about Kimbo Slice’s possible entrance into the UFC, Ortiz didn’t hold back.
“So let’s say there is a kid in ninth grade and he came to the seventh grade and he tries telling you what to do. Would you really look up to him, or be like 'Stop being a bully and go pick on someone your own age,'” Ortiz said of the legendary street fighter who is trying to earn his way into the UFC via Spike TV’s reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“Kimbo Slice is like a big bully. But he’s messing with a bunch of younger kids who know a lot more than him.”
Ortiz warns that he thinks Slice’s true skills will get exposed on the show.
“Don’t believe the hype. Dana White is gonna show on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ how good Kimbo Slice really is,” Ortiz said.
Trilogy with "The Iceman"
While he has already lost to Liddell twice, Ortiz said when his longtime foe is done "Dancing with the Stars" he wouldn't mind retiring him from the sport for good.
"After he’s done with his little dancing thing, … we’ll see. I would love it," said Ortiz, who was punished by punches from Liddell at both UFC 47 and UFC 66. "I hope he thinks I was the fighter that I was the two times prior.
“I’m not afraid of anybody. I would love to do it again."
Andy Samuelson can be reached at email@example.com or 702-948-7837.