Opinion: Time For Tito Ortiz To Call It Quits Already
By Jesse Heitz
In recent pieces I have discussed the impending MMA return of Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz with a planned November bout against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in Bellator. I have also briefly talked about his infiltration of professional wrestling. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the remnants of Tito Ortiz’s career.
Before this discussion goes any farther, I must admit that I’m an unashamed professional wrestling fan. Certainly, this makes many self-conscious MMA fans cringe. Shrieks of “pro wrestling is fake” ring out. Let’s be honest here, if you’re in my age group, you were being indoctrinated in the ways of Hulkamania before you could walk. You were watching Andre “The Giant”, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and “The Macho Man” Randy Savage, apply their trade with your father, maybe even attempting to apply an elbow drop on one of your unsuspecting siblings.
While I am an ardent MMA fan, I’m also a professional wrestling purist. Now, contrary to how this story appears to be unfolding, this discourse does not necessarily revolve around pro wrestling, but rather, the career of Tito Ortiz. A decade ago, Tito Ortiz was among the best fighters on the planet, he ruled the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. He was one of the sport’s premier earners and arguably its most recognizable face.
Today, the landscape is much different. Tito is rapidly approaching the age of 40. He’s battered, bruised, and scarred. In his most recent appearance for professional wrestling promotion TNA, he moved around like a man double his age. There is no denying that years of continual training, fighting, and repeated injuries, take their toll on the body. However, it’s disheartening to see a man, still young in many respects, looking to be thoroughly worn out.
Yet, what’s more saddening is to see one of the most prolific fighters of his generation, the man that engaged in epic battles with the likes of: Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Vitor Belfort, have to resort to entering into pro wrestling in order to drum up interest in his upcoming fight.
When he enters the TNA arena, you hear nothing but crickets. Even when thrust into the center of an angle that would draw considerable heat from the audience, the fans seem to be entirely uninterested, bored even. He seems awkward and unnatural in the role of professional wrestling personality, to be sure, he’s not a professional wrestler. It’s not his business, MMA is. The fans know it, and he undoubtedly must know it.
It’s always difficult and perhaps even pretentious to call on a fighter, particularly an iconic one, to hang it up. Yet, short of fighting B-level talent in regional MMA promotions, Ortiz is going to have significant difficulty in notching wins at this point in his career. The simple truth is that Ortiz’s time as a relevant headliner has come and gone. His foray into professional wrestling is a testament to that reality. It’s high time for Tito Ortiz to abandon the physical aspects of his longtime trade. It’s time for him to ride off into the sunset and take his place as one of the sport’s greatest stars.