<
>

Ortiz misses chance to return UFC's favor

7/13/2011
Back from the dead? Just when you thought Tito Ortiz had dug up his career ... Ed Mulholland for ESPN.com

Tito Ortiz just squandered a big chance.

In the UFC’s time of need, Ortiz refused to step in for the injured Phil Davis and fight Rashad Evans on a little over three week’s notice in UFC 133’s main event. For a hungry fighter looking to break into title contention, accepting this fight is a no-brainer. For a fighter with at least an ordinary competitor’s conscience, a chance to avenge a gnawing injustice -- such as the draw with Evans back in 2007, a fight that Ortiz should have won had he not been docked for holding the fence -- becomes motivation.

For Ortiz, apparently, it’s something to shrug about. And then to wax poetically about making the right calls when navigating a complicated career that cannot possibly be fathomed by lay people.

“I have a life and things to take care of,” Ortiz tweeted last night in response to declining UFC 133’s main event. “The fight game is about making the right choices of my career. If you knew what I have been going through you all would understand. Peaking for a fight is what makes a fighter unstoppable! Timing is everything in life. This is a rebuild year for me not do or die. The time will come again!” His hashtag sign-off was “#positive.”

For him, maybe.

What’s he going through? Some sort of dilemma? Funny, that’s what the UFC found itself in when it came to ask him for help. The sound of trumpets signaled Ortiz’s return to relevance when he fought and beat Ryan Bader at UFC 132. But you know what? He wouldn’t have been in that fight if the UFC hadn’t swallowed hard and given him another chance to begin with. It was “do or die” there for a minute, wasn’t it? And in his own words he “begged” for his chance to “do.”

Without a single win since 2006, the promotion gave him one more chance to prove he could fight at an elite level in booking him against Bader. To his credit, Ortiz made good. He earned half-a-million dollars in the fight. He resurrected his carefully managed career -- a career that he conveniently forgets was on life support two weeks ago. Ortiz took advantage of the UFC’s generosity, and when it came time to return the favor, he didn’t blink. He refused.

If you wonder why Dana White has had a volatile relationship with Ortiz over the years, this is exactly the reason.