Tito Ortiz: “This Is the Loneliest Sport in the World, and Only Fighters Understand That”

Fans don’t see the preparation that goes into a fight, which is why Tito Ortiz is rankled over the suggestion that his upcoming fight with Alberto Del Rio is anything but legit.

Tito Ortiz is fed up with people suggesting his fight with former WWE star Alberto Del Rio is a work, or exhibition match. It rankles him, he told Cageside Press this week, “because I work so hard at the gym. When people imply that, they’re just really trying to assassinate my character, of who I am. And that is a joke.”

Ortiz steps back into the cage (and out of retirement once again) on December 7 against Del Rio, who last fought in 2010 and holds a record of 9-5 as a pro. “Any fans who have ever watched my career, they’ve watched any of my fights, I wear my heart on my sleeve,” Ortiz continued. “I fight like a warrior, I fight like a lion. I fight with everything when I fight. I’ve always had to do that, I’ve always had to prove myself, I’ve always had to prove I was the better fighter, I’ve always had to prove I was the better person, I’ve always had to prove I was the better father.”

“I’m the hardest working man in the mixed martial arts world,” he added.

Now, he’ll attempt to prove that with a new promotion, Combate Americas. The Hispanic MMA promotion has built up a strong following thanks in part to television deals with Univision and ESPN Latin America. They’ll be headed to PPV for the first time with Ortiz vs. Del Rio, however.

Ortiz, who noted that he’d fought “everybody in the light heavyweight division,” feels he doesn’t get credit for a lot of his accomplishments in MMA. “I’ve won five world titles. Hall of Fame from the UFC. I’ve done so many things, PPV wise, the highest buying PPV until Conor [McGregor] came around.”

“When I fight someone like Alberto Del Rio, and people think it’s a worked fight, it’s annoying to hear,” he exclaimed, especially with a 14-week fight camp taking him away from his family.

“This is the loneliest sport in the world, and only fighters understand that,” he stated. “Fans can sit there and say ‘oh yeah, that fight’ but all they see is just a fight. They don’t see the preparation that goes into a fight in general.”

Ortiz is planning to show a little prime Tito on December 7, he said. He doubts Alberto Del Rio, who fought as Dos Caras Jr. in PRIDE and other organizations, will make it past the first round. After that, his future is open, and while focused on Del Rio now, he plans to fight on.

“The way I’m training now, the way my body’s reacting now, the way my mind is right now, I plan on continuing to do it,” explained Ortiz. “I don’t want to look back, when I’m fifty years old, and go ‘damn I wish I had of done it back when I was 44.’ I’m hungry, man. This is fun, I’m having fun doing this.”

Of course, we’ve been here before. Ortiz’s last venture, the widely panned Ortiz vs. Liddell 3, was also on PPV, under Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy banner. Ortiz won the fight, handily, knocking old rival Chuck Liddell out in the first round. The PPV, however, did not draw anywhere near the numbers De La Hoya had hoped.

There’s a big difference this time out, said Tito Ortiz. “We will be on DirectTV.”

“UFC made sure that the Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz fight was not on Direct TV,” he claimed.

“UFC is with ESPN now. They have no control over DirecTV. DirecTV is going to back us. And I’m very thankful to DirecTV. I’ve always worked hard with DirecTV when I was with the UFC,” he said.

Speaking to fans, and particular new viewers, Ortiz promised not to let them down. “I am here to entertain, from when my walkout music starts until the fight is over, I will entertain win, lose, or draw. No matter what. I guarantee it.”

Watch our full interview with Tito Oritz ahead of his return against Alberto Del Rio above!