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- Feb 12, 2015
Matched up with former WWE superstar Alberto “El Patron” Rodriguez for his next fight, Tito Ortiz isn’t viewing the bout as some sort of sideshow attraction and he’s created added incentive for himself to take it as seriously as any other.
The former UFC and Bellator star faces “El Patron” (a.k.a. Alberto Rodriguez, a.k.a. “Alberto Del Rio”) in the main event of the first-ever Combate Americas pay-per-view on Dec. 7 in Hidalgo, Texas.
Though the fight is being billed as both men putting their respective championships on the line—Ortiz being a former UFC light heavyweight titleholder and “El Patron” having held belts in a number of major pro wrestling promotions—that showy aspect of the matchup isn’t what Ortiz wanted to talk about at a press conference to promote Combate’s broadcasting deal with AXS TV on Wednesday.
Instead, the 44-year-old UFC Hall of Famer stated that he would make short work of “El Patron,” who hasn’t appeared in an MMA bout since 2010.
“Alberto Del Rio picked me to compete against. He picked the wrong person to compete against,” Ortiz said. “If he can get past the first round, I told him I’ll donate $50,000 to his charity. This guy don’t understand who he’s fighting. I’m an animal.
“When that cage is locked, you guys are gonna be turning on the Discovery Channel on pay-per-view, because I’m gonna be a vicious lion that hasn’t eaten in a long time. And this lion’s gonna roar.”
Despite declaring himself retired multiple times over the past seven years, Ortiz is currently on a 4-1 stretch with wins over Chael Sonnen, Stephan Bonnar, and Alexander Shlemenko in Bellator, and a first-round knockout of rival Chuck Liddell last November in a trilogy bout for the short-lived Golden Boy Promotions MMA off-shoot.
Ortiz bristled at the notion that anything about his fight with “El Patron” could be prearranged, as it might be in his opponent’s usual pro wrestling stomping grounds, and explained that he wouldn’t be putting himself through another training camp if that were the case.
“People think, ‘Oh, it’s an easy fight for you.’ It’s not about the fight. It’s about my name. It’s about my legacy,” Ortiz said. “It’s about everything I’m gonna put into it so I can show my performance on Dec. 7. And I’m thankful for having Campbell give me the opportunity to show my skills, to show what I’m really made of.
“I shouldn’t be sitting here right now. I really shouldn’t, competing at the level that I am, training at the level I am with the athletes that I’m training with, the fighters I’m training with. No other fighter has done it. No other fighter has had a career as long as I have with the injuries I’ve had and to be able to bounce back the way I have. It just shows that I’m a very mentally strong person, very intelligent, and I’m skilled professionally. And I have been doing it now for 22 years. There’s not one other fighter in this world, that’s mixed martial arts, that’s ever been doing it as long as I have, at the level I have, for as many years as I have. Continuous years, non-stop, I’ve never taken a full year off and this is proof in the pudding.”