By Jonathan Solomon
It will not happen anytime soon but the idea is floating around, at least in Tito Ortiz’s head.
In a recent interview with Bloodyelbow.com’s Steph Daniels, Ortiz was asked which fight could light his fire for one last bout. The former UFC light heavyweight champion said unequivocally, “Frank Shamrock.”
“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” is now 38-years-old, coming off another neck surgery and still must go under the knife to repair his ACL. Despite the glaring facts which suggest he will remain retired, a fight with Shamrock has always been on his mind.
Ortiz’s famous rivalry with Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den gym included fights with Guy Mezger and Jerry Bohlander. By the time his fight with Frank, Ken’s adopted brother, came around in 1999, the brothers had split with Frank leaving the gym.
There was no ill will between the two heading into their UFC 22 bout for Frank’s light heavyweight championship. Despite fighting the naturally larger man, Frank won due to strikes late in the fourth round. Ortiz learned a valuable lesson in that fight which would help him develop into a future Hall of Fame competitor, he worked immensely on improving his endurance.
Frank Shamrock, the best fighter in the world at that point, abruptly left the UFC in the aftermath of his win, with the long-term prospects of the promotion looking futile. From 2000 to 2009, he fought only seven times, retiring after a loss to Nick Diaz.
Tito immediately won the vacant UFC title by beating Wanderlei Silva and defended the gold five times, becoming the promotion’s biggest star before losing to Randy Couture. His feud with Ken Shamrock ended in 2006 after the latter suffered two quick losses (four years after Tito left him a mangled mess on the first big PPV of the Zuffa era when the Fertittas purchased the company). Ortiz officially retired last summer when he lost to Forrest Griffin.
Today, as Ortiz is home for his family, working as a businessman with a clothing line and representing fighters as their manager. His biggest client is former Strikeforce champion Cris Cyborg, who has been in talks with the UFC although her weight is the biggest block in getting a deal done.
It’s unclear whether Shamrock shares his former foe’s interest in one last fight, but his plans in the future include continuing broadcast work and trying to bring his story to the big screen. Plus, unlike Tito, his relationship with UFC brass is still void to this day.
What are your thoughts?