What is your favorite Tito Ortiz fight and where does he rank among all-time most influential fighters in UFC history?
ROBERT VALLEJOS, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I have always had a strange soft spot for the first fight between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell at UFC 47. The fight itself is nothing special, but it is entertaining in a unique way. Despite being totally outclassed, Ortiz still made the fight interesting with his antics.
While he is not in the conversation as one of the best technical fighters ever, he holds a very significant spot in the growth of MMA. Ortiz was one of the first fighters to really utilize the “heel” role in MMA to gain notoriety. In many ways, he was the precursor to a guy like Conor McGregor. He may also have been ahead of his time in terms with his feud with Dana White. During their war of words, White was still seen as a cult-like figure who had endless goodwill with MMA fans. In 2016, blatant defiance of the promoter by a fighter at the edge of his prime would be championed with much more fanfare.
I also think Ortiz is a bit of a problematic figure in UFC history. During the mid-2000’s MMA expansion, Ortiz fit so many of the negative MMA stereotypes. While his “bad boy” persona served him very well in the UFC, he was a difficult person to present to the mainstream. In many ways the emergence of more cerebral fighters like Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre helped MMA break out of its negative image. Furthermore, the prolonged end to his career has made him feel like a joke in the last five years. His act looks and sounds very dated.
ADAM TINDAL, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
My favorite Tito Ortiz fight was far and beyond the win over Ryan Bader. I’d be willing to bet that not a single person outside of Tito Ortiz himself expected him to win that fight. I distinctly remember watching that night really and truly hoping for him to win. Seeing him land that perfect punch on the feet to wobble Bader and then lock in the submission was awesome. I loved seeing him get that win after losing and coming up short so many times before. As far as his place in UFC history, he no doubt had a major impact on drawing attention and publicity to the sport. He was a well-spoken, brash, and colossus of an athlete at that time. His explosive style of wrestling mixed in with that volcanic ground and pound provided up and coming guys with the perfect blueprint to mold their own styles after.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
In terms of his wins, probably one of his first two wins over Ken Shamrock. Overall, though, it was one of his losses to Chuck Liddell. I hate saying that because I liked Ortiz throughout his career, but those fights were some of the first ones where I was super hyped for them, especially the first one. He’s had a great career, one that probably gets overlooked too often, and I think he belongs on that list of fighters from the early days of the UFC who were instrumental in UFC’s success.
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S PART ONE: ROUNDTABLE (pt. 1 of 2): What is your favorite Tito Ortiz fight and where does he rank among most influential fighters in UFC history?