Numerous frantic developments have arisen following Phil Davis' departure from the scheduled UFC 133 main event against Rashad Evans (15-1-1, 10-1-1 UFC), however one in particular seems to be catching the attention of fight fans. As it turns out, former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz (16-8-1, 15-8-1 UFC) was offered the headlining bout as well, but decided to turn it down.
Without question, the move sits in stark contrast to the sentiment the "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" was portraying following his tremendous first-round upset of Ryan Bader at UFC 132. A week ago, fixed in the fuzzy afterglow of the biggest victory of his life -- and by all accounts a complete career revival -- Ortiz discussed his availability with SB Nation's own Luke Thomas.
Luke Thomas: How fast can you turn around if you could game plan?
Tito Ortiz: Two weeks.
Luke Thomas: You could fight at UFC 133, 134, or 135 easily, right?
Tito Ortiz: Whatever they want, I'm ready. I'm healthy, I'm good, no problems. My knee's a little sore from when Ryan kicked the inside of my knee but I checked it so his foot must be killing today. That and his chin.
It goes without saying, but the opportunity was there for the taking for the 36-year old veteran, and everything failed to come to fruition. It may be that the quote was simply a glimpse into the inherent bluster required to prosper in the fight game, but even still, taking on a top-5 opponent with less than a month's notice is an incredibly tall order to ask of anyone.
Regardless of the fact that Rashad Evans hasn't fought in a over a year, the truth remains that he is an exceedingly dangerous opponent. Losing to "Sugar" in a decisive fashion, even on short notice, would immediately derail all the momentum and resounding goodwill that "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" has prudently built up over the last week.
Shortly after the announcement, Ortiz released a statement via Twitter that seemed to echo that exact sentiment.
I have a life and things to take care of. The fight game is about making the right choices of my career. If you knew what I have been going through you all would understand. Peaking for a fight is what makes a fighter unstoppable! Timing is everything in life. This is a rebuild year for me not do or die. The time will come again! #positive
None would blame Ortiz in this case, as it really does seem like the smart decision for an aging legend carefully toeing the line between retirement and relevancy. Either way, unaided by an already rocky history with Dana White and the UFC, this latest development could have a far-reaching impact on how the organization decides to play out the last few years of the California native's career.
[Update by Shaun Al-Shatti, 07/13/11 4:34 PM PDT ]
It appears Tito Ortiz has had a change of heart. As of late Wednesday afternoon, the former light heavyweight champion has signed on to fight Rashad Evans in UFC 133's headlining bout.