Tito Ortiz’s career has been on the downward trend for quite some time. After his UFC exit, many believed the former Light Heavyweight champion would hang up his gloves for good. Instead, Ortiz made a professional wrestling-esque return to Bellator in hopes of rejuvenating his career against fellow legend, Rampage Jackson. Bellator slated the men against one another for their first ever pay per view show back in November.
Unfortunately for Tito, he suffered a severe neck injury that caused him to pull out of the fight, and Bellator scrapped the entire pay per view. Tito began rehabbing, promising that he would return to the cage in 2014. While on the mend, Ortiz was arrested on suspicion of a DUI after partying at the Playboy Mansion. Today, the bad news continued for Ortiz, as it seems that his MMA career may be over for good. Bellator’s CEO, Bjorn Rebney, recently spoke about Tito’s health and whether or not he can return to the cage: (Courtesy of MMA Weekly):
When I initially got on the phone with the doctors, and Tito announced to us that he had fractured his neck, that was and is the primary concern. There’s not a substantive answer at this point to whether he’s going to come back.
We’re having discussions with him. The key was to get 120-percent healed. It’s an unsettling conversation to have a specialist in the field of neck injuries to tell you that with the right kind of drop on the head, or the right kind of impact on the spine, paralysis could be a result. That’s never a good conversation: A) for a world class althete, but B) it’s never a good conversation for the person in my position charged with putting that person inside of a cage to fight against top tier competition.
If a fighter becomes injured, or is unable to compete, it’s what’s called tolling. The contract basically stops until such time as the fighter can compete. And when the fighter can compete and is 100-percent cleared then everything reignites and starts up again. It’s almost like time stops as the fighter recuperates from an injury or gets to a position to where he can compete again. Tito and I have got to sit down, work through it, talk about it, and if he is going to get back inside the cage, which is a distinct possibility, figure out what the best launch pad is and how he’d want to do that and what makes sense.
Clearly Rebney is not ready to close the doors on Tito’s return to the cage, but if paralysis is a distinct possibility, there should be no way Ortiz should be licensed to fight. It is simply too dangerous and too risky to put him back inside a cage.
What are your thoughts on Tito’s injury and possible return to the cage? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @SchlinskMMA