Tito Ortiz is a former UFC light heavyweight champion whose 21-year career as an MMA icon saw many high points. Prior to this past weekend, however, there was one mountain he had not climbed: He had fought Chuck Liddell twice and been knocked out both times.
On Saturday, Ortiz finally reached that peak when he knocked out Liddell.
On Monday, the 43-year-old retired from the sport — at least as a fighter.
“There’s no reason to come back and fight anybody else,” Ortiz (20-12-1) said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “Who is there? There’s no one else out there. I’ve fought the who’s who. I’ve done what I needed to do.”
Indeed, Ortiz competed against an honor roll of the sport’s greats, including onetime UFC champions Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans, Evan Tanner, Jerry Bohlander, Guy Mezger, Ken and Frank Shamrock, Forrest Griffin and Lyoto Machida. He beat Wanderlei Silva for the vacant light heavyweight title in 2000 and successfully defended the belt five times before dropping it to Couture in 2003.
“I want to enjoy life, man,” Ortiz said. “I want to do business. I want to focus on what’s going to be my next chapter, and promotion is where it’s at.”
Ortiz said he will meet on Friday with Oscar De La Hoya, whose Golden Boy Promotions made its MMA debut with Liddell-Ortiz III. During the lead-up to the fight, it was unclear whether the boxing promotion would continue with MMA for the long term. Ortiz expects that to be the case, and that he will play a role.
“I want to give [fighters] an opportunity to become brands,” he said. “I want to give them an opportunity to become partners in their fight business. They put their lives on the line when they step into the cage.”
If promoting fights instead of fighting them is his future, Ortiz believes his 15 years in the UFC introduced him to the ultimate role model.
“Dana White is the best. UFC is the best,” he said. “I don’t want to compete against the UFC. Coca-Cola, there’s a Pepsi. ATT, there’s T-Mobile. There’s always competition with each other. Ford, you’ve got Chevy. UFC, you’re going to have Golden Boy MMA.”