Originally Published: December 8, 2011
When he does retire, Tito Ortiz doesn’t plan to stray too far from the fight scene.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Here in Tito Ortiz‘s hometown, inside the Punishment Training Center he built (in some cases, with his own hands), the future has started to creep into the present for the former champion.
A 90-minute training session that’s split between bag work, mitts and physical training comes to an end around 5 p.m. — but the night is far from over.
The next hour Ortiz spends on the mat, coaching a children’s weekly wrestling class. Immediately after, an hour-long submission wrestling class for adults is scheduled.
During a brief intermission between the two, Ortiz approaches a man standing off to the side — the father of a high school kid who attends the gym regularly.
The purpose of the conversation is to gauge the man’s feelings on his son starting an amateur career. When the father approves, Ortiz smiles. “Your son has a lot of potential,” he tells him. All gym fees are waived starting now.
It’s been more than 14 years since Ortiz made his first appearance in the UFC. He has two fights remaining on a six-fight contract signed in 2009. He’d like to finish out that deal and then, well — one of the most influential mixed martial artists in the sport’s history is ready to hang them up.
But even though Ortiz can’t fight forever, he likes to think a second version of him is close by somewhere. To pick up where he’ll leave off.
“I’ve done everything under the sun in mixed martial arts,” Ortiz told ESPN.com. “I’ve done more than any mixed martial artist has ever done. All of them. Is it time for me to leave? Yeah, I think so.
“I want to use my business knowledge on a different level. There is a different generation of fighters now and I want to make the next Tito Ortiz. To show a guy the leg work it takes to become that.”
Ortiz doesn’t spend every waking moment reflecting on the fact his career is nearly over, but it’s not made into some elephant in the room either.
He’ll be 37 next month and, in more ways than one, he’s tired. He says going to the gym and