Jacob Tito Ortiz is one of the biggest names in American Mixed Martial Arts.
Former Light-Heavyweight UFC champion, he has graced the covers of sports magazines, headlined pay per view championship games and has accumulated quite a fan club through the years.
He has even written an autobiography. But things were not always that way for Tito.
TITO ORTIZ HISTORY
Born to an American mother and a Mexican father, Tito Ortiz had a rough start. Ortiz grew up in Huntington Beach, California.
By age 13, his parents were divorced and he was in and out of detention centers. That is why he is endeared the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy". Somewhere along the way though, the young man decided to turn his misfortune into his fortune.
It was Tito's sophomore year in high school when he first got involved in wrestling. By his senior year he placed fourth in state and got a taste of the feel of being a champ. He liked it. From there, it was "on".
Tito Ortiz wrestled in junior college at Golden West College and won a junior state title for his school. Then he went on to wrestle at Cal State in Bakerfield, California and didn't stop there.The year was 1997. In his mixed martial arts debut, while still in college, Tito Ortiz fought in UFC 13. He competed as an amateur for no money or contracts. In the very first round, Tito Ortiz beat Wes Albritton.
But it was his next fight with Guy Mezger in the Lightweight final that would debut his "ground and pound" technique that would quickly become his trademark. Though Ortiz would go on to lose the bout by submission, he had showed what he was made of early in the match.
The next fight was against Jeremy Screetonat at West Coast NHB Championships 1 where he won with a TKO victory. In UFC 18, Tito gave it all he had against Jerry Bohlander. The doctor had to stop the fight Bohlander was cut so badly. Tito Ortiz was on a roll.
It was in UFC 19 that Tito Ortiz avenged his loss to Mezger. It was a TKO in the first round and Tito could not be happier. He dawned a t-shirt that read 'Gay Mezger Is My Bitch'. This was the first of many t-shirts he would wear offending his opponents after beating them in the ring.
One such belittled opponent was Frank Shamrock who took offense to one such shirt. Shamrock trained with a group called the Lion's Den and in one t-shirt, Tito had given the Lion's Den both fingers. This was not just a match, it was a score to settle and Shamrock did exactly that, winning the title in 1999 at UFC 22 then retiring thereafter.
After Shamrock's retirement, the middleweight became the light heavyweight and Ortiz was picked to fight Wanderlei Silva for the championship title. Ortiz won and went on to win five more times against Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner, Elvis sinosic, Vladimir Matyushenko and Ken Shamrock (again).
TITO, LIDDELL & COUTURE
Tito Ortiz took a year off and then returned to the ring in UFC 44 to face Randy Couture who was the reigning light heavyweight champ after his victory over Chuck Liddell in September 2003.
This was part of a three ring drama in which Chuck, the "Iceman", Liddell wanted to go up against Tito but Tito declined, saying they had taken an oath early on in their careers that they would do no such thing.
Liddell denied every having that agreement and it was speculated that Tito Ortiz was afraid to fight Liddell. There was also talk that Ortiz was unhappy with the UFC during this time.
The UFC management was quite frustrated with Tito and came up with the next best thing to a Liddell vs. Ortiz match. In an interim fight in UFC 43, Randy Couture fought Liddell and won.
So the UFC 44 match between Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture fight was more than met the eye. It was as close to Tito vs. Liddell as Tito had let it get and he did not fare well. In a unanimous decision, Ortiz lost and ended his three and a half year reign.
Finally, at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 47 - It's On! on April 2, 2004,the long awaiting fight took place and was appropriately titled, "It's On." Unfortantely for Tito and his many fans, Liddell was more "on" than he. Tito lost to a knockout in the second round. It was said by some, if not by many, that the match was one sided and that Ortiz simply did not try.
The loss called for a six month break on Ortiz' part after which he came back for UFC to against newcomer Patrick Cote which he won and then in UFC 51 against Vitor Belfort which he took in a split decision.
Ortiz took time off again in February 2005, partly due to conflicts with the UFC. During that time he was offered promotional deals such as one with Pride Fighting Championships and the World Fighting Alliance. None actually came to be.
Ortiz did, however, referee in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in May and October of 2005 where he managed to be in the middle of yet another controversy. No one seemed surprised.
ULTIMATE FIGHTER 3
In April 2006, it was announced that Ortiz and Shamrock would both coach in the reality show, The Ultimate Fighter 3.
Under a new deal, Tito returned to the UFC for a three-fight contract. It was no secret he had had bad blood with UFC management, namely his former manager then UFC vice-president, Dana White. The three- fight deal was said to include a three-round bout with White.
The first fight of the deal was against Forest Griffin, previous Ultimate Fighter 1 winner, at UFC 59 on April 15, 2006. Tito won by a split decision.
The next fight was against arch enemy, UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock in UFC 61 on July 8, 2006. The fight was the continuation of the drama from the reality series with Ortiz winning in the first round by TKO. In a rematch the two met again on October 10th and once again, Ortiz took the fight in the first round.
On December 30, 2006, it was time for a rematch with Chuck Liddell in UFC 66 for the UFC Light Heavyweight championship. It was a highly anticipated event that brought in over a million buys for pay-per-view. Ortiz was defeated in the third round.The next fight was against Rashad Evans on July 7, 2007 at UFC 73. Evans was the Ultimate Fighter 2 winner and was undefeated. The bout ended in a draw.
At UFC 84 Tito fought the last fight on his contract against Lyoto Machida. Though it was a close call, Ortiz lost the match, 30-27 and did not re-sign his contract.
Though Tito was approached by several organizations, his old contract with the UFC states that he cannot sign with or fight for any other promotions until May or June of 2009.
In 2008 Tito underwent back surgery for an injury thought to be from the Couture fight but later announced he will fight again in 2009.
Well Tito did fight again. He took on Griffin in a knock down drag out. It was a very close fight and Tito thought he won. But Forest came out on top this time. Tito hopes for a third match with Forest.
Ortiz has written an autobiographical book of his life that is controversial at best. The book is called "This is Gonna Hurt: The life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion". Some loved it, others hated it and according to Tito, the same is true of himself...you love him or hate him.
Talk about controversial, Tito met former porn star, Jenna Jameson, on Myspace in 2006 and the two began dating. She announced their relationship at the AVN Adult Movie Awards in 2008 and now the couple has twin boys born March 16, 2009.
WHAT DOES TITO WEAR?
So what does Tito wear? As expected, he has a collection of t-shirts, most with messages we cannot print.
Most were worn after fights and were gestures against his opponent. But Tito does have a line of shirts that are not obscene, in fact, they're pretty hot. Tito's line of MMA signature clothing includes Punishment t-shirts and hats.
As fans across the globe wait to see if Tito will return to the ring, one thing is for sure, if he does it will be like all the other fights of his life...personal and controversial.