Tito Ortiz was one of the first superstars in the UFC and Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of Ortiz’s professional mixed martial arts debut, making his way into the Octagon for the first time in 1997 at UFC 13. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” fought twice at UFC 13, winning a first round TKO over Wes Albritton and then losing to Guy Mezger by guillotine choke submission.
The always insightful MMA History Today Twitter handle posted a classic photo of a young 22-year-old Ortiz being interviewed by 29-year-old Joe Rogan.
Ortiz replied to the anniversary post with an insightful tweet.
Ortiz: 20 years ago when I fought for free in the @UFC so I could keep my wrestling scholarship. Only one to ever do it. #dedication
Tito Ortiz has been known for his feuds with UFC President Dana White over the years but back when Ortiz fought at UFC 13, it was still under the ownership of the original owners of the promotion. While Ortiz made his debut under the creators of the UFC, his rise to real stardom came when Zuffa purchased the company with White at the helm.
“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” recently retired from mixed martial arts competition, ending his career under the Bellator promotion. Ortiz’s last fight was against Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170 in January and the former UFC champion went out with a win, submitting Sonnen via rear-naked choke in the first round. Ortiz helped pave the way for the sport of mixed martial arts and was an early example of how a fighter could promote himself to be a star with his charismatic persona while backing it all up in the Octagon.
What is your fondest memory of “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” Tito Ortiz? Let’s get some conversation regarding the MMA legend flowing in the comment section!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/31/2017.