Although Tito Ortiz recently claimed he is undecided on what he will be doing with his future as a fighter, and real MMA purists fans may despise the idea, Ortiz vs. Kimbo Slice is a fight that Bellator MMA should book for a number of reasons.
At Saturday’s Bellator: Dynamite 1 event at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” or “The People’s Champion,” whatever moniker Ortiz is going by these days, lost his chance at becoming the first man to capture world titles in the current top two MMA organizations based out of North America by losing via first-round submission to Bellator’s 205-pound champion, Liam McGeary (11-0).
So, the obvious question becomes: Should Tito Ortiz (18-12-1), at age 40, with a career that has already earned himself a spot in the UFC Hall Of Fame, continue to fighting, or should he hang up his flame-covered shorts and finger-less, four-ounce gloves?
Following the September 19, 2015 event in San Jose, Ortiz spoke at the Bellator: Dynamite 1 post-fight press conference about his future in the sport.
“As far as me coming back, I’ll wait,” said Ortiz at the Bellator: Dynamite 1 post-fight press conference. “I’m gonna chill for a little bit. I’m just gonna enjoy this time right now. I missed out on the summer; I missed out on a lot of time with my family. I’m 40 years old, man. I’ve been doing this sh*t for 18 and a half years, a l lot longer than everyone up here has been doing it.”
Ortiz continued, “I’ve had some major surgeries: back surgeries, neck surgeries, knee surgeries.[I’m going to] let my body heal a little bit; let my mind heal a little bit. I still love training. I want to hang out with my kids a little bit, wake up in the morning and take them to school. Be a dad for a little bit. I’m gonna enjoy myself.”
While that doesn’t really give a definitive answer one way or the other, one thing appears pretty likely — Ortiz’s days of fighting for world championships, whether in the UFC or Bellator — are most likely behind him. So, where does that leave one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the sport?
Enter Kevin Ferguson.
Better known to MMA fans, as well as his legions of YouTube fans, Ferguson goes by the fight name of “Kimbo Slice,” and while no real MMA fan considers Kimbo to be anything other than a “freak show fighter,” it’s hard to deny the fact that he is a star, and one that can draw when matched with the right opponent.
For a promotion looking to expand and grow now that former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is at the helm, a guy who has a reputation for leaning more towards the Japanese MMA model due to his longstanding business ties with K-1 and other Japanese organizations, an occasional “freak show fight” here and there, as long as it is promoted in the right way, could be exactly what Bellator needs.
Keep in mind, since Coker took over, the biggest shows Bellator has put on to date have been headlined by past drawing cards who are well past their prime, such as Quinton Jackson vs. King Mo, Tito Ortiz vs. Stephan Bonnar, Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock and most recently, the aforementioned Ortiz vs. McGeary bout.
Having said that, it’s worth pointing out that Ortiz turned down a potential rematch against Frank Shamrock to fight McGeary for the title instead this past Saturday evening in San Jose, so booking a match with Ortiz against someone who he would be fighting just for the sake of getting a paycheck might not be intriguing enough for Ortiz to go along with.
Then again, now that Ortiz might have to — at age 40 — re-climb the ladder back to another title shot, maybe he would be comfortable in taking some “freak show fights” just to cash-in at the tail-end of his career. Knowing Ortiz’s ego and drive to succeed, it would also heavily increase his odds of going out on a high note by picking up wins against recognizable names that would likely be seen by large audiences on Spike TV, and/or pay-per-view, depending which route the promotion leans towards.
So, that covers the Tito Ortiz portion of the equation, but how would Mr. Ferguson feel about a match against the MMA legend?
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