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Do You Believe in Miracles? YES! Tito Ortiz CAN Win Tomorrow Night

| July 1, 2011 | Reply

If you want professional journalistic integrity in this article, you won’t find it.  This article is what I, Dan Rose, believe can and will happen Saturday night in the UFC, when Tito Ortiz is forced to fight for his career against a younger, stronger version of himself in Ryan Bader.

Sometimes I pretend to be a professional, unbiased journalist covering the sport of Mixed Martial Arts for MMA Valor.  However, honestly, that’s not the case.  I am first and foremost a fan of the sport.  Yes, I went to college, studied journalism with the hopes of covering sports as a writer, but when it comes to MMA, I’m a fan first, writer second.  Tito Ortiz has long been a favorite of mine.

Ever since UFC 33 Victory in Vegas when weeks removed from 9/11, I sat ringside for one of the most electrifying entrances in sports when Tito came down to defend his title against Vladdy Matyushenko, I have been a fan of his.  I attended UFC 37.5 and had the chance to sit with Tito Ortiz and play a UFC video game against him, and talk to the man.  I became a bigger fan.  When I saw him stay in a hallway long after other UFC fighters had left, to sign autographs, take photos and let kids hold his championship belt, I better understood the one of the most misunderstood people in MMA.  Tito Ortiz is a good fighter, and a better person.

titobelt 394x247 Do You Believe in Miracles? YES! Tito Ortiz CAN Win Tomorrow NightI’d spoken to him a handful of times after that and as his personal life became public fodder and his UFC career began to slide I felt and feel bad for him.  His life is good; he has money, children, freedom and all the toys you could ever want.  That’s not what I feel bad about.  I feel bad because I know he’d trade the toys and a lot of the money, and the fame for a win Saturday night at UFC 132.  Tito Ortiz sees himself as a fighter first.  He isn’t through, he wants to continue to fight and a loss Saturday night all but extinguishes that chapter of his life.  So how does Tito keep that flame going?  He beats Ryan Bader to the punch Saturday night.  Ryan Bader is a tremendous wrestler, as is Ortiz.  Ryan Bader however hasn’t shown excellent striking and it is in that realm that Tito Ortiz can exploit Bader and defeat him.

Let’s not confuse the issue though, nobody is going to mistake Tito Ortiz’ striking for Anderson Silva’s.  Tito hasn’t exactly come out and blown anyone away standing, but he can beat Ryan Bader with his jab and low kicks.  Ryan has looked shaky standing against Jon Jones, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.  He at times looks clumsy standing and he can be beaten if he starts slow in the standup department.

People make a lot of out the fact that Tito is winless since 2006, and rightfully so.  But let’s take a look at who he’s lost to and how since his hand was last raised in the Octagon.  First, he lost a fight to Chuck Liddell.  Let’s be honest, back then Chuck was flat lining people and with his takedown defense and ability to stand up, he would have beaten Tito ten out of ten fights.  Liddell was champion at that point.

Next up he fought Rasad Evans, a future Light Heavyweight champion and the two fought to a draw, due in large part to a point being taken away from Tito for holding the fence.  Without that point loss, Tito beats Rashad Evans.

After that Tito lost a drawn out decision to another future champion, Lyoto Machida.  Machida avoided Tito throughout the fight, landed some strikes and did enough to win the contest.  In the final moments of that fight however, Tito worked for a triangle and nearly submitted Lyoto.  Tito switched from the triangle to the armbar and had he continued to work the triangle, he could have won that fight.  So not a at all a damning loss for Tito.

Tito next faced another future Light Heavyweight champion in Forrest Griffin and after a back and forth contest, was on the short end of a split decision and found himself on the outs in the UFC.  He had gone 0-3-1 in his last four fights but had a draw on a point deduction, lost a split decision and nearly submitted Lyoto in the final moments of their fight.  Outside of being collapsed by Liddell, he hadn’t been dominated or soundly beaten.

The most damaging loss in the Tito Ortiz defense is his most recent to Matt Hamil.  Hamil is a tough and durable fighter, but it was a win Tito NEEDED and couldn’t findtito ortiz31 192x200 Do You Believe in Miracles? YES! Tito Ortiz CAN Win Tomorrow Night a way to close the deal.  Tito won the first round of that fight, but lost the second round and gassed and got controlled in the final round.  It was a bad performance for Ortiz who started fast, maybe too fast and his condition didn’t last.  His body betrayed him and it is that fight that makes me the most nervous for his upcoming fight with Ryan Bader.

There are three things that Tito needs to do to win this fight tomorrow night.  They are all things Tito is capable of doing.  First thing is, win the striking exchanges.  During this fight, the two fighters will spend ample time standing and trading.  There will be occasional jabs and lowkicks from each fighter, but when they engage and swing, Tito must win those exchanges.  He needs to work behind a low kick and a jab and win the exchanges, that the first key.

The second key to this fight for Ortiz is without doubt the most important.  Bring a full tank of gas, and don’t waste it in the first round.  Tito has a tendency to come out blazing in the first round and not do a lot of damage.  It looks good, he wins a few rounds that way, but when he does, when the final frame comes, he’s gassed and gets controlled.  Bring a full tank and use it wisely.

The third key to this fight is Tito not getting stuck under Bader.  If and when Ryan begins to lose a standup fight with Ortiz, he will look to shoot, and take it down.  Tito might not be able to escape those shots, but if taken down, he needs to work back to his feet and not get trapped on the bottom.  That’s the one place where Tito will find it difficult to win this fight.  He can win the standup, he can hold Ryan Bader down but if he gets trapped on the bottom, he might be done.

Tito does have submissions, and he can submit Bader from his back, but it certainly shouldn’t be Tito’s gameplan going into this fight.  Tito seemingly is a creature of habit, and when he fights, he does the same things over and over, sometimes to his detriment.  He has submissions, but very rarely leans on them.  He has low kicks, high kicks and knees but doesn’t utilize them as much as he could.

In this fight he’s not just fighting for his UFC career, he’s fighting for his MMA career.  The chances of Tito being cut and then landing in MFC or Bellator are slim to none, because they can’t pay his quote and he won’t fight in a tent for 10K.  He absolutely needs to win this fight, and if he doesn’t , frankly he should likely walk away.

Come Saturday night, Tito Ortiz will bring a full tank of gas, utilize low kicks, a solid jab and out-wrestle the wrestler en route to a unanimous decision victory and a pardon from the UFC chief, Dana White.

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