Tito Ortiz ended his MMA career in a blaze of glory. Not only did he defeat Chael Sonnen but he did it in style with a modified rear-naked choke submitting Sonnen, who early in the match thought he had the upper hand with an early guillotine choke attempt on this UFC Hall of Famer.
It was after breaking free from the guillotine choke hold, and giving the thumbs-up sign to the referee, that Ortiz was able to play his underrated ground game. Once free and taking things down to the mat, Tito Ortiz top mounted, get Sonnen’s back and never let his grip go. Ortiz is a bigger and stronger athlete than Sonnen, and because Sonnen knew that they were still early in the match that Ortiz was not tired. He tapped out within 2 minutes to give a well-deserved victory to Ortiz.
“I knew I could get my shot on Chael because he’s not super strong and I could fight my way out of [bad] positions,” Ortiz said.
The crowd at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif on Saturday the 21st of January was taken aback as Tito Ortiz closed out the match in 02:03 in the first round. The main event of Bellator 170 was over in 123 seconds, a victorious declaration of Ortiz’s 20-year dominance in the sport.
Memorable Weekend Ends Ortiz’s MMA Career
This will prove to be a memorable weekend for Ortiz. Not only will Ortiz celebrate his 42nd birthday on January 23, but this day will be a date for the history books. On January 21, 2017, Tito Ortiz bowed out from his MMA career in a match which was eerily similar to the one Ortiz had wrestled against the same competitor 19 years before.
In 1998 to the day, Ortiz and Chael Sonnen had also had a fight while Ortiz was still at college. The only difference was that it was Sonnen, during the first round of that match, who had pinned Ortiz.
Completing the circle of his illustrious wrestling career, Tito’s Ortiz’s eldest son, Jacob, left his red gloves center stage as the final gesture of saying goodbye to his life in the ring.
“Everyone, this will be the last time I will be in this cage. So as we do in wrestling, you’d retire your wrestling shoes. Tonight, Jan.21, 2017, I’m going to let my son lay these gloves down right here in the Bellator cage because this is the last time I’ll be fighting. Thank you guys for the support for 20 years.”
Ortiz Knew How To Entertain a Crowd
Jacob Christopher “Tito” Ortiz has long been the underdog in the MMA. Ortiz’s final match was a fitting farewell for one of the pioneers of wrestling.
Ortiz faced constant ridicule and criticism because according to the stats he was just not winning enough. And this was true, because between 2006 and 2012, Tito Ortiz only won one match. The butt of many jokes, many people couldn’t see why Ortiz was demanding a higher salary.
They failed to see that it was Ortiz who drew the crowds in, it was Ortiz who knew how to get a crowd invested in a match, and it was Ortiz who was the sure crowd-pleaser when UFC struggled in their early days to draw the numbers in.
It was indeed Ortiz who pulled in record pay-per-view audiences, and it was the same Ortiz who broke television ratings records. Tito Ortiz was the go-to man for the whole division, and Tito Ortiz played a huge role in getting the sport to where it is today.
And for this reason, Tito Ortiz had just as much right as a fighter who wins matches to demand a higher salary because at the end of the day it’s he who draws crowds that pays the bills.
[Featured Image by David Becker/AP Images]