Tito Ortiz earned a much-needed victory Saturday night in Bellator 120, emerging from retirement to steamroll Bellator's middleweight champ, Alexander Shlemenko. As originally reported by Yahoo Sports, Ortiz took the Russian to the mat in the first round and forced a submission,
But much like Rodney Dangerfield, even with this victory, critics and detractors are tough to shake for Tito. Perhaps it's an inherent part of having a long history in the game as an MMA pioneer, with some pivotal losses among championship wins, or even some of the bad decisions Tito admits to over the years.
Whatever it is, love him or hate him, Tito Ortiz is still a lightning rod, and one of the most recognized names among today's growing multitude of MMA fighters. In fact, leading up to the Shlemenko fight, in interviews such as on the Adam Carolla Podcast, Tito seemed pleased with where he's at.
On Saturday, Tito launched out of his corner at the opening bell, leaving his previous retirement behind, and though a little slow, was soon all over Shlemenko like a wet blanket. Shlemenko, like any high-level MMA fighter, put up resistance, but Tito soon overwhelmed the smaller fighter and took him down.
And that was one of the issues of the contest that created an opportunity for non-Tito fans to lob their jeers; while Shlemenko challenged Tito Ortiz and called him out to take the fight, the Russian was the smaller man.
Of course, in MMA, anything is possible, which has been proven again and again. Even top MMA fighters such as Ortiz generally have more than a few losses on their record. However, despite Tito's size advantage, the far younger, faster Russian was favored.
Predictions aside, the contest took care of itself Saturday. Ortiz took complete control once he had Shlemenko on the ground, first taking the Russian's back before rolling him over and gaining an even more dominant position. An arm triangle followed, Shlemenko's ability to breathe was briefly halted, and Ortiz had put him to sleep.
The fight was over at 2:27 of the first round - Tito's first victory since 2011.
"Guess who's back?" said Ortiz. "I worked hard as hell for this. I'm just inspired to inspire others."
Congratulations should be in order, right? Well, from some perhaps, but Tito's next comments shined a light on his tumultuous past with the UFC and it's king, Dana White. Ortiz expressed his resentment for not being included on the UFC's list of most victorious fighters in the octagon:
"UFC, You tried to take me off your list. You can try to take me out of the Hall of Fame, but each and every one of these fans will remember me for an MMA lifetime."Calling Dana White a critic of Tito Ortiz would be among the biggest understatements ever. White once said, "Tito is a (darn) idiot - He's one of the dumbest human beings I've ever met."
So, Tito Ortiz probably won't be surprised if his post-fight call out to the UFC falls on deaf ears.
At the same time, having his win belittled by his ex-wife and mother of his children, adult film actress Jenna Jameson, had to be at the very least, extremely annoying for Ortiz, especially since she said that Tito was teaching their kids to cheat because of the size difference.
"Sometimes it's easiest to win when you're twice the size..." tweeted Jameson, followed by the obligatory hash tags and teaching kid to cheat reference: "#maybefightrampage #actuallyteachinghissonscheatingisok."
While the tweet has reportedly since been deleted, next time Tito goes to pick up the kids from Jameson's, he should remind her that Shlemenko was a 4-1 favorite going into the fight.
Of course, this likely would not change Jameson's mind. But Tito would be correct while also being the one that just cleared a huge hurdle - a hurdle that if not cleared would have brought the haters raining down on him even more, as they're apt to do.
So again, love Ortiz or hate him, while you might have lost your bet on Shlemenko, you can get your money back by betting that this is not the last you've seen of Tito Ortiz.
Images via Google Images