Tito Ortiz: Ton of respect for Matt Hamill, third fight with Chuck Liddell next

The former UFC light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz talks about his upcoming fight with Matt Hamill this weekend at UFC 121 in Anaheim, California, a thrid and final fight with long time rival, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, and about his physical condition, whether or not his past health problems are truly behind him.

Ortiz, speaking via USA Today, said:

“I have a lot of respect for Matt Hamill. He’s a great fighter, very, very tough and very talented. … He’s 4-0 in his record of his last four fights, and I really think I have my hands full. I’m excited for this challenge, just to prove to everybody that I’m still a force to be reckoned with in the 205-pound division.”

“I’ve seen something special in Matt since day one on The Ultimate Fighter Season 3. I’ve seen a guy who had just a wrestling base, but learned really, really quick. I still support the guy, but at the same time, this is business, and no more than that. That’s what’s going to make this fight so exciting. This is teacher versus student.”

“Every fight’s a must-win situation. I go out and I give my heart and soul. I give it my best. Don’t leave it in the judges’ hands, as they say. I’m not going to try to leave it in the judges’ hands. I win. I go to the next step and I fight Chuck Liddell. That’s my next fight, either way. Right now it’s just all about win, win, win. That’s all I can think. I say that as a positive right now, and that’s what it’s about, is to continue on and excel in my career.”

On the “The Iceman”, Ortiz said:

“I think the fight (with Liddell) will happen. The almighty dollar always speaks loudest and I think that’s a huge fight. Liddell said a few things. He said he would like to fight. I think the fans deserve it. I promised Dana that I would take the fight. That was before The Ultimate Fighter, I promised him.”

“When I had to pull out, I was sad. I was bummed that I had to get neck surgery. It’s not like I wanted to go in and get neck surgery. I was sad I had to get it done. I think the fans deserve it. I think the UFC deserves it. I think I deserve it. And I think Dana White and Chuck Liddell deserve it. So let’s do it. Why not? Let’s make it a trilogy. This time, I’ll get the better of him.”

On his physical condition and whether his past health problems are behind him, Ortiz said:

“I feel like a new man after going through two major surgeries. Two years ago, I got Two Level fusion (for the) L4-5 and S-1 in my lower back. I’d been having lower back problems for six years, seven years. The disc was completely compressed, bulging, pressing on my spinal cord. Along with the numbness, tingling sensation down my leg, my whole lower back and legs were aching for five to six years.”

“I just kind of did what I could do to get through from fight to fight, then I couldn’t handle the pain any more, so I got surgery done. I was very, very thankful to get it done. Dr. William Smith out of Las Vegas did it for me. He went in through the side, and almost a year to the day, I fought Forrest Griffin in November 2009. About a month prior to the fight, I was training, wrestling with my buddies. I had a little bit of neck problems before, just from all the wrestling I did in college, and training for the UFC from fight to fight.”

“I got bounced on my head, trying to take down one of my friends inside the Octagon that I have in my house up here in Big Bear. I got bounced on my neck. Arms and legs went completely numb. Scared me. I laid on the floor for about a good minute and a half. I was completely paralyzed for about a minute and a half. Slowly but surely my feeling came back to my arms, came back to my legs, and I was able to stand up. I’d never felt that feeling before. I had severe achiness to my neck, and I kind of realized that I had a ruptured disc in my neck.”

“I took the fight anyways. I probably shouldn’t have been doing it. I’m a great actor, thank God. I’ve got to kind of take care of my family. I didn’t fight for 18 months, so bills had to be paid, so I had to fight. I got through a physical for the UFC and I fought with a fractured orbital bone and a ruptured disc in my neck. I got surgery done (a few) months later, March 15, 2010, and I’m a new man now. It’s been almost six-and-a-half months since surgery was done on my neck. They went in and fused C6 and C7 in my neck, and I was really, really lucky. Very, very lucky to be able to bounce back as fast as I have.”

“I did The Ultimate Fighter right before that, and I was supposed to fight Chuck Liddell, and I (got) to the point where I had to pull out of the fight due to it, just because I was having numbness, and I had headaches, tingling sensation down my arms. I talked to Dana about and he was bummed. He said, “So you’re pulling out of the fight?” and I go, “I have to.” He goes, “Alright, we’ll get you a doctor and let’s get it done.” So I went to the same doctor and got my neck done and part of my lower back done, and I did it.”

About William Smith

After watching the first Ultimate Fighting Championship I became instantly hooked. I've been a huge fan of the sport of MMA ever since. Haven't missed a UFC event & thanks to fight pass I've witnessed some of the all time greatest fighter & athletes the sport through Pride, Strikeforce, WEC, Glory, Pacrase, EliteXC.............. I resently joined MMA-paradise.com & will use this site to continue to bring the latest news from the world of MMA to all our loyal followers.