After failing to win a fight in four years and five consecutive fights past that point, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy", who once carried the UFC through the dark ages a decade ago, was finally at the end of the line with the organization.
Tito Ortiz, the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in the history of the UFC, had lost it. Leading up to an anticipated rematch with Chuck Liddell in December 2006, Ortiz had won five straight fights. Ortiz fell to Liddell a second time. A point for grabbing the fence led him to a draw with Rashad Evans next. But following that, Ortiz lost decisions to Forrest Griffin, Lyoto Machida and former protege Matt Hamill.
Ortiz had never lost three straight fights before in his career. To make matters worse, UFC President Dana White had informed him and the public that with a loss, Ortiz would be released from his contract. Beating a world-ranked light heavyweight in "Ultimate Fighter" winner Ryan Bader shouldn't be too hard, right?
Ortiz made it look easy.
At 35-years-old, Ortiz put on one of his top career performances against Bader during the main card of UFC 132 in July of this past year. After dropping Bader with a right hand just over a minute into their fight, Ortiz pounced on his opponent and locked in a guillotine choke.
Ortiz squeezed like no one had ever seen him cinch a submission before. His career depended on it, and moments later, Bader tapped. Ortiz let out a scream of joy, lept to his feet and went right into his infamous post-fight gravedigger celebration, something that hadn't been seen since he defeated Ken Shamrock for a third and final time back in October 2006.
For me, it was one of the more memorable UFC moments I'll ever have the pleasure of witnessing.