Tito Ortiz joins UFC Hall of Fame

Updated: July 8, 2012, 6:04 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- Former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on Saturday at Mandalay Bay.

The induction ceremony was held during UFC's Fan Expo.

Ortiz becomes the ninth person inducted into the hall. He joins fellow UFC ex-champions (heavyweight/light heavyweight) Randy Couture, (light heavyweight) Chuck Liddell and (welterweight) Matt Hughes.

Fighters Mark Coleman, Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Frank Shamrock and former TapouT co-founder Charles Lewis also are members of the Hall of Fame.

Leading Ortiz into the Hall of Fame was his former manager and UFC president Dana White.

"Some of the biggest fights when this thing was getting started -- the Tito-Ken (Shamrock), the Tito-Chuck (Liddell), Tito-Randy (Couture), all the big fights had one thing in common -- Tito was involved."

Ortiz began his mixed martial arts career on May 30, 1997, with a first-round TKO of Wes Albritton at UFC 13 in Augusta, Ga. Ortiz finished Albritton in 31 seconds.

He won the UFC 205-pound title on April 14, 2000, with a unanimous decision over Wanderlei Silva.

Ortiz retained the light heavyweight belt for more than three years, longer than any other fighter in that weight class.

Despite his success, Ortiz has been plagued by injuries throughout his illustrious career.

"All of the years I put into this sport I gave my heart, I gave my soul and I gave my body," Ortiz said. "I've had ACL reconstructive surgery before I fought Ken Shamrock the first time. I had back surgery and I fought a year after that.

"I've had neck surgery and fought six months after that. I've had a meniscus tear. They took off 50 percent of my meniscus in my right knee.

"I've had some major surgery."

While Ortiz always seemed to overcome his physical ailments, he found it difficult to repair his relationship with White -- his former manager.

The two have been at odds for several years, but they have been working diligently of late to repair their relationship.

"Oh, the times we have had Tito and I," White said. "If you look back to when we started this company, back in 2001. I managed Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz before we even bought the UFC.

"And to be honest, you know I always am, it was some of the best and worst times I've ever had. But the story between me, and Chuck, and Tito in the early days of the UFC are really what helped to build this thing and get it where it is today."

Ortiz vowed before the induction ceremony to control his emotions. But it was a vow he could not keep.

"People ask, 'Tito why are you retiring?' " a tearful Ortiz said before a cheering crowd. "I'm retiring because it's time.

"It's time to walk away because I have done everything that is possible to do in this sport. And I've everything that I've wanted to do."

Ortiz was scheduled to fight for the final time Saturday night at UFC 148 against former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.

They have fought twice with each earning a victory.

Ortiz enters the bout with a career record of 17-10-1.

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