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One of the growing narratives of the last couple years in mixed martial arts has been the increasing rate of retirement. Just in the last few months, fans have seen Dan Henderson, Miesha Tate, Urijah Faber, Mirko CroCop, Manny Gamburyan, Kyle Noke, and Sean O’Connell all call it quits.
In part, the culture around the sport seems to have shifted. Fighters seem less inclined to cling on to a career in MMA past the point of reason. But mainly, it’s just the realities of a young sport going through growing pains. Athletes retire, and MMA is so young that many of the sport’s legends are only just now facing that reality.
Or, in the case of some, facing it again.
The latest of those longtime stars to walk away appears to be Tito Ortiz. At least, once he’s fought Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170 on January 21st. In a recent conference call, Ortiz made it clear that whatever the outcome, his fight with Sonnen would be his last (transcript via MMAFighting).
“This retirement is well due,” Ortiz said on a Bellator 170 conference call. “Twenty years of competition has pretty much, I’d still be fighting if it wasn’t for my surgeries.”
“My biggest enemy has been my surgeries,” Ortiz said. “I’ve had an ACL replaced in my left knee, ACL replaced in my right knee, 50 percent of my meniscus taken out of my right knee, lower back fusion, C-6, C-7 fused in my neck, C-5, C-4 disk replacement, C-4, C-3 fused. I have 26, 27 concussions, hundreds of stitches, I’ve been through the grinder. My biggest enemy has been my body.”
And over the years, Ortiz has gained some notoriety for those injuries. Most infamously in his post fight interview for UFC 106, where after losing to Forrest Griffin, he claimed he had been competing with a “cracked skull.” Coincidentally, following Ortiz’s third fight with Griffin at UFC 148, he announced his retirement for the first time.
Now, coming up on 42-years-old, it seems more likely that this time the former UFC light heavyweight champion really will hang up the gloves. “I want to be remembered as a fighter with integrity,” Ortiz told the assembled media. “A fighter who did it this way, who has respect because he wanted to push the envelope for the fighters.”
Bellator 170 takes place in Inglewood, California on January 21st, just two days shy of Ortiz’s birthday, and just about 19 years after Ortiz and Sonnen met on the the college wrestling mats, where Sonnen pinned Ortiz in under a minute. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow as we’ll be sure to update you on whether or not Ortiz has a happier birthday this time around.
http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2017/1/5/141 ... e-mma-news
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