Print and Go Back ESPN.com: MMA [Print without images]

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Ortiz: 'It's fight week and I'm ready'

By Tito Ortiz
Special to ESPN.com

In his final entry before UFC 133, former champion Tito Ortiz why he'll never text and drive again, what made him cry and his thoughts on Rashad Evans ahead of their clash at UFC 133.

It is Monday evening of fight week and I'm putting in my last training session before getting on the plane tomorrow to go to Philly for my UFC 133 main event (Pay-per-view, 9 p.m. ET) with Rashad Evans.

I'm in a really good place. I got up at 6 a.m. (PT) today to do the Piolin radio show (101.9 FM La Nueva in Los Angeles ) and I've never woke up on fight week feeling so good. Maybe I got so used to waking up feeling banged up and sore over the last few years that I forgot what it feels like to be in fight week and feeling so healthy and in shape.

I'm really loving life right now. I honestly think being positive is a choice, and now that I'm getting to compete healthy I remind myself I've got the best job in the world, a great family and there's nothing to be negative about.

I even laughed when I saw the guys who post this blog on ESPN called last week's column, where I talked about crashing my car, "the Phantom Menaced.” No one was hurt other than my wallet, and that's the most important thing, so I got a good laugh out of that.

Now the serious stuff starts and I'm in a great frame of mind to go into battle. I'm ready to look Rashad Evans in the eye at the news conference, at the weigh-in and in the Octagon and win another big fight.

I've been putting in the time sparring, lifting, and exploding in the gym. I'm ready.

Well done, Miesha and Hendo

Fedor Emelianenko vs Dan Henderson
Cut from the same cloth: Tito Ortiz considers Dan Henderson, above, a fellow survivor.

Before moving on the my own fight, I want to say how proud I am of Punishment Athletics fighter Miesha Tate, who won the Strikeforce bantamweight title on Saturday. I'm proud to sponsor her and she was awesome beating Marloes Coenen on Saturday. I met her at the UFC Fighter Summit a couple of months ago and knew she was going to win this fight. She just had this confidence which made me believe in her. She's got everything she needs to be a major star in this sport and I'm proud to have her as a fighter.

I also watched the Fedor Emelianenko-Dan Henderson fight. I am not a huge supporter or anything, but it was hard to see someone like Fedor basically retire himself like that. He's been finished in his last three fights and it is never good seeing any fighter who has been around for a long time finish on his face.

He's not one of the greatest ever; he did great in Pride but he chose not to come to the UFC and he never fought in the UFC. You can't be considered one of the best -- much less the greatest ever -- if you didn't fight in the UFC. Pride isn't the UFC and the places he's been since Pride aren't the UFC. Everyone who came from Pride to the UFC got stomped.

But that's not to take away from Dan Henderson. Henderson is one of the best light heavyweights out there. He's survived at the top of the food chain for a long time and that's a fight I'd be very interested in. I've said I'm the last of the Mohicans lately but I guess Hendo is a Mohican too and it would be a great fight for me in the future.

Is Evans cracking already?

Rashad Evans
With the pressure on, is Rashad Evans beginning to crack?

You've probably seen the clip the UFC released with Rashad and me talking via satellite. Rashad was in full “bad guy” mode saying he was going to finish me "quick.” I've never been "finished quick" in my career. Guy Mezger caught me with a choke back in the late 90s when I was a kid learning the sport and Chuck Liddell stopped me with punches, but no one has “finished me”' like Rashad is trying to claim he's going to do Saturday.

He's not basing this stuff on any reality. It's all fantasy. I'm not an easy guy to finish, that's right there on my record, and he hasn't finished too many big fights in his career. That's also right there on record. So really what he's doing is talking BS and trying to sound strong when I think he probably feels weak and unsure of himself.

If he's saying this stuff trying to sell the fight, OK, cool. I get that. I've been there and done that. Now I am at a place where my name sells my half of the fight. If there's one thing I'm an expert in, it is talking up a fight. I always did it to build interest in my fight, in the sport, the UFC and my brand … and sometimes I did it because I felt my opponent was mentally weak or that I needed to boost myself up.

When I was fighting hurt, with back injuries and knee trouble, I needed to be my own positive reinforcement. I wasn't performing to the level I wanted to in the gym. I didn't trust my body enough to go 100 percent in camp, and that is in the back of your mind as a fighter. Now I am healthy, and I can't tell you the difference it makes mentally, but back then I was talking as if these problems didn't exist to kinda give myself the mental reinforcement my body wasn't giving me.

That is what Rashad is doing with his silly talk of finishing me quick. He's coming off a huge layoff, he's not with the gym who took him to the title, and he's coming off a serious knee injury. He's not mentally strong anyway, so I think he's mentally in trouble for this fight.

Rashad knows I could have sat home and spent time with my family. He knows instead I chose to accept this fight when no one -- my team, my family, Dana (White), Lorenzo (Fertitta), no one -- would have thought any less of me if I'd passed on UFC 133.

I think that level of confidence is something Rashad is intimidated by. He's a guy who just sat out for 14 months, turning down fights because he doesn't have the confidence to take a risk on himself winning in the Octagon.

I think he's got a lot of fear in his heart.

Rashad lost to me the first time in 2007. Now he's got to win this fight to keep something he already won -- a UFC title shot. That's a lot of pressure, and I said last week on this blog that I don't know if he can handle that ... and the way he blew up in that interview kinda shows me he's not handling that pressure too well.

Follow Ortiz on Twitter @titoortiz and at www.punishment.com