Monday, March 5, 2007

Interview: Tito Ortiz

Jacob "Tito" Ortiz (born January 23, 1975) is a Mexican American participant of the sport of mixed martial arts, or "MMA". Ortizs career has been mostly within the UFC organization. A former Light-Heavyweight UFC champion, Ortiz has become one of the sports most shining stars, headlining several Pay Per View championship undercards, and appearing on the covers of various magazines, such as Black Belt Magazine. He is a native of Huntington Beach, California. Tito Ortiz is recognized as a charismatic, if controversial and highly-criticized fighter. Whatever the opinions of Ortiz, he undeniably is both a showman and a talented fighter.

MMAToday: How are you doing?
TO: Great! I just got back from a month of vacation and I amfeeling good.

MMAToday: Have you returned to training since your last fight?
TO: Just started training again lightly about a week ago andI am getting ready to get all the way into it.

MMAToday: How much training time do you plan to put in before your next fight?
TO: About 2 full months

MMAToday: What brought you into competing in MMA?
TO: I was in wrestling in high school and college, I startedas Tank Abbots training partner. I started really getting into theUFC when they started having weight classes since I competed at 199in wrestling in college so 205 was a natural fit for me. Just thelove of competition. I fought my first fight for free because I wasstill in college and would lose my scholarship if I was paid.

MMAToday: What training and experience did you have that made you know you would be successful at it?
TO: Just wrestling, growing up with older brothers who used to beat me up a lot, and I started training boxing in my garage in high school

MMAToday: What fighters early in your career did you admire and maybe try to model your training and fighting style after?
TO: Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and Tank, tried to take lessons from what they had done and been successful at and incorporate it all. Guys like Frank Shamrock knew the whole game and his cardio was awesome. I didnt try to be like anyone else really but learn from them and take that and add it all up to make the perfect fighter.

MMAToday: Are there any fighters you look up to now?
TO: Not anyone now currently, but I look at people who put it all together like Ali, Bruce Lee 30 years ago. GSP and BJ are great fighters. I cant respect anyone in my weight class anymore because I get caught up in watching them and being in awe instead of stomping on them, which is what I need to be do doing.

MMAToday: One fight that is noted as making a big difference early in your training and career was against Frank Shamrock, how did that fight affect you?
TO: I trained with Frank after the loss for a couple weeks, got to see what it took to be a top contender. I lost to Frank because of conditioning. Frank helped teach me about heart rate and rest. I learned about recovery times. After only fighting for almost 2 years and training with Frank I was able to go at it with Wanderlei Silva for 5 full rounds at full speed.

MMAToday: How was it the first time you won a UFC Championship? How did you feel afterwards?
TO: When I first won it was amazing but I had another goal and that was to keep the belt. Dont get me wrong I slept with that belt for the first month after I got it, but I wanted to keep it. I wanted to keep it longer than anyone ever had and break the record for it, and be dominant and I did that.

MMAToday: What fight or fights for you are the most memorable of your career?
TO: Theres a few. First beating Silva for the title and my first fight with Ken. The other two fights with Ken just made it more memorable. I really took it to heart the first time against him, that I was good when I beat Ken and was dominant.

MMAToday: Which fight brought you the most satisfaction and which brought you the most disappointment?
TO: Satisfaction: The first fight with Ken, I came off a knee surgery and ACL injury and was dominant after 6 months being healthy. Second against Vladimir Matyushenko and dominated, that was the best shape I have ever been in.
Disappointment: Losing the title to Randy. That hurt the worst andI wasnt right for almost two months after. I had to find the motivationto keep going forward. The second fight with Chuck this past December,I felt I let my fans down and I was in the best shape and broughtmy A game.

MMAToday: This past year was a busy one for you, after a year long layoff, with 4 fights. Are you planning on taking it a little slower this year?
TO: I am trying for 3 fights this year, I like being in the octagon. When I wasnt there it was about the money and paying bills, now its not about the money. I am having fun, and Im fighting to get my title back. I keep working and getting better and trying to be a better fighter. I would like to fight Chuck, I will fight him 5 or 6 times however many times it takes. Im confident now that I stood with him, and Im confident I can fix the mistakes I made. First thing I think of is who I have to fight to get back to the top and be in contention. I will crush anyone in the LHW division. I only lost to the top guys in the game Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock and Chuck Liddell. I still have a bright future ahead and my body feels good. I have no injuries my knee is great and my back is great.

MMAToday: What can we expect from you in 2007?
TO: More movies? My heart is really in fighting right now andIm in fighting mode. I want to keep going with Punishment Athletics.Im a business man then a fighter and then actor man but fighter firstand foremost now. My next fight is in May against Keith Jardine.

MMAToday: Where do you see yourself in the UFC title picture at Light Heavyweight?
TO: Im in the top 3. I will fight any of them, I fought Liddell and made some mistakes but that wont happen again. He has been dominant and done what he has done, so have I and I will do it again.

MMAToday: What motivates you to continue fighting and training after an almost 10 year professional career of fighting?
TO: My fans and the drive to be the best. Its a mixture of both.

MMAToday: Who are your favorite fighters to watch?
TO: GSP #1. He has a hard work ethic and is very exciting, what he did to Matt Hughes was impressive. Brandon Vera is exciting and hits hard, hes a good wrestler and has good Jiu-jitsu.

MMAToday: Are there any fighters you want to fight that you havent had a chance to yet?
TO: Shogun Rua would be an awesome fight, Id love to fight him, Wanderlei just lost and Id love to fight him again. Dan Henderson would be great. I will fight anyone and make it exciting for the fans. I just want to keep people buying pay per views and keep the fans entertained, me and chuck did it right and broke records for pay per view buys.

MMAToday: You have done a small bit of acting in recent years, is something you are looking to pursue?
TO: I was just on CBS Numbers in a small part last week. , I did a MadTV episode that will be airing in April or May. I have to make the right choices and I want to stay away from the fight movies and go more into action films.

MMAToday: Is there anything you would change in the UFC currently to make it safer rules wise for the fighter? Or any changes you would make?
TO: Everything is good; sometimes the referees need to be a little more knowledgeable in a championship fight. The fight with Liddell, the referee (Mario Yamasaki) was never in a huge fight. Big John knows what its like to be in those fights. He should have let us fight; I will take a lot of damage, but dont stop the fight when Im getting hit in the arms. Let the fight go if Im defending those shots, a lot of them were hitting my forearms.

MMAToday: Can you request a referee for a fight?
TO: Athletic Commissions assign the refs, and they changed it to Yamasaki at the weigh-ins.

MMAToday: What do you think of the recent explosion of MMAs popularity over the last 2 years? Is it beneficial for everyone? The fans, the fighters and the promoters alike?
TO: I think its better for the fighters. As it gets bigger guys will be paid more. Making 2 grand a fight is BS, but it comes down to the fighters. You have to have more respect for yourself and not let them walk all over you. You have to hold out and demand more money. I think I was the first guy to really hold out; I was willing to hold out for what I believed in. But its a catch 22, if you sign the contract for making less money everyone bitches that you dont make enough, but they bitch if you ask for more. We top fighters are making good money, but its not about the money anymore for me, I just want to fight, I love to compete.

MMAToday: Any chance you would leave UFC?
TO: I really dont want to, I started here and I plan on finishinghere. I hope they would promote me more. I don?t see going anywhereelse but you never know what happens, but my heart sticks with theUFC till they start treating me bad. Dana and I have good feelingsright now.

MMAToday: Would you consider leaving to fight Silva and Shogun?
TO: I could make that decision but I worked hard to be where I am but I would go if they set it up, I think it just comes down to I will fight any of them. I will stomp anyone at 205, I am in the top 3 in the world and I will beat Shogun, Henderson and Silva if I get the chance.

MMAToday: How did the TUF appearance change anything for you?
TO: The misconceptions people had of me. I am two separate people, I have a cocky attitude in the octagon but, but I am a caring person outside. It was a chance for my fans to see another side of me. You have to have charisma to be successful in the ring. When I am in the ring I know the angles I need to take like Muhammad Ali and Hulk Hogan, you have to be cocky and brash and thats how you attract the fans. My team did great and went 9-3; it was nice to know I had even a small part in that.

MMAToday: Would training young fighters be a goal after your fighting career is over?TO: Maybe not but maybe, maybe Ill do my own TV show. I lovetraining and helping out with guys. I loved training kids when I wasin college, I helped train them at the local high school.

MMAToday: Is there anyone currently training with you that we should be on the lookout for?
TO: Not yet, after my fight Ive had a few guys trying to get a hold of me for training but I am picky, you need to be a hard worker and have the right attitude to train with us. Like Melvin Guillard, hes training with us, hes a hard worker and is rising fast. But we need a HW for Team Punishment, a big like around 6 foot 3 to 6 foot 5 , around 265 pounds preferably a wrestler. We work hard and theres no one that trains like we do at Team Punishment.

MMAToday: You have been involved in numerous charities over the years, anyone you are working with now in particular?
TO: Doing motivational speaking at high schools and speakingto the Marines. I am going to the Armed Forces Day to speak in frontof the Marines that just came back from, and some that are going outto Iraq on May 19th in Banning, California from 11am -1pm . I am lookingto work with inner city kids and training camps with them, nothingis etched in stone yet but I really want to help kids.


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