Tito Ortiz is one of the most recognized and colorful mixed martial arts competitors in the world. He is one of the reigning monarchs of Ultimate Fighting Championship and has achieved the kind of celebrity status that causes a stir when he enters a restaurant or walks down an airport corridor. Tito’s name on a UFC fight card is a Pay-Per-View fan magnet, and his passionate commitment to winning guarantees viewers will watch it from start to finish. He was recently named one of the two most influential UFC Fighters of All Time (outranked only by the legendary Royce Gracie, who no longer fights).

At 6’2” and 205 pounds and known as “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” Tito has a reputation as a feisty competitor who grinds his opponents in the Octagon fight cage into total submission. His celebrity status comes both from his fighting ability and his attitude at fights – fans can’t wait to see what new, brazen t-shirt he’ll don after a victory. It’s all part of the show – PPV fights that attract up to 10-million viewers.

His determination to overcome his background and life are inspirational. The son of drug addicted parents, Tito never knew what the day held for him as a child. His home shifted constantly between motels, garages and even less comfortable abodes. He found his way into a Southern California youth gang and felt he was heading in one of two directions – jail or death. In high school, with Hulk Hogan as his hero, Tito tried out for the wrestling team. The coach saw something in Tito that no one else had up to then and it became a life-changing relationship. The coach became Tito’s mentor and surrogate Dad. He not only taught him to be a great wrestler, but how to believe in himself. He helped Tito get financial assistance; encouraged him to apply to college and even helped him apply for scholarships. It’s no wonder that while in college his goal was to be a high school wrestling coach himself and also work with special education kids.

After graduating from Golden West College and attending Cal State Bakersfield Tito applied to the UFC and was accepted. Within a year and one-half he was the new light heavyweight champion.

Today, Tito is a soft spoken and humble guy with undeniable charisma. Next year his fans will be able to read his life story in a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. He is in demand as a motivational speaker and is as comfortable before corporate groups of 3,000+ as he is before a room full of high school students. He hopes to build a training camp for troubled youth and wants to continue to work with inner city teens, possibly even to help them the way his coach helped him.

Tito has broadened his career horizons beyond mixed martial arts. His website ( is one of the most popular for fighters of any kind. He’s had roles in several feature films; most notably Cradle 2 the Grave and the controversial Turkish film Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. He also recently appeared on the CBS TV series “NUMB3RS.” He is a successful entrepeneur with his sportswear company Punishment Athletics ( His best-selling Team Punishment clothing line is so popular that its T-shirts, night-shirts and other apparel even get their own posts in the forum section of Tito’s popular blog.

Ortiz has also attracted public attention for his romantic relationship with adult crossover star Jenna Jameson. The Boston Herald calls them “the new power couple.” Jenna has helped him by modeling for the Team Punishment clothing line, appearing in print ads with Ortiz.


Belying his intense behavior in the Octagon, Tito Ortiz in everyday life is a guy who is in awe of his own pop idol status. “I was going on a walk today down Big Bear Boulevard and about 10 cars stopped with the drivers screaming at me,” he told an interviewer recently. “I go into a store or a restaurant and I get noticed. Sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m on TV so much. It’s cool and I don’t mind people coming up to me. But it’s mind boggling to realize how many people watch the UFC. There are kids, young men, women and men in their 50s and 60s who walk by me and give me a wink and say, ‘Great job on Shamrock.’ The fans have really adapted to the sport because the sport is really fan friendly with amazing action.”


Ultimate Fighting Championship matches draw huge audiences, in part because fight promoters have responded to critics and have cleaned up the sport, adding rules (no biting, groin hits, etc.), rounds, weight classes and paramedics outside the Octagon. The sport now attracts audiences interested in boxing, wrestling and martial arts fans. Because of its popularity, new safety regulations and stricter rules, UFC competitions are now sanctioned in more states and provinces.

Tito’s UFC match last fall with Ken Shamrock on Spike TV drew higher ratings from the coveted 18- to 34-year-old male demographic than a major-league baseball playoff game during the same time slot. Even a reality show about would-be mixed martial arts fighters in training regularly pulls an audience of more than two million viewers.

In addition to its popularity on PPV, the sport has its own radio networks, magazines and websites.

Tito Ortiz is one of the UFC’s great marketing assets. As he told an interviewer at “I’m doing my job by expressing how great the sport is. I’m a fan of the sport, as well as a competitor. I’m always making sure people see the positive side because there really isn’t that much negative about it. You watch a boxing match and you see someone getting punched in the head for 12 rounds, I’ve never been punched in the head 200 times in a UFC fight. We are athletes. We compete in an Octagon where there is a set of rules that we have to abide by. I think people should get more educated on the sport before they knock it.”


Kids are among Tito’s most fervent fans. His personal story – growing up in the underground of gritty California towns and achieving success with dignity – is inspirational and motivating. “From the very beginning I tell kids that if you set your dreams high and if you’re willing to sacrifice and work hard, you can achieve anything that you want to. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a lot to get a little. There are no short cuts, you have to work hard and when you work hard you will feel that sense of fulfillment. I do a lot of speaking at high schools, I’ve visited Camp Pendleton and other bases and I’m a huge supporter of our men and women in uniform. If it wasn’t for the United States troops we wouldn’t have the freedom that we enjoy. It’s nice not to walk down the street worrying about someone throwing a grenade under a car, or something crazy happening. We enjoy that luxury because of our armed men and women protecting us every single day. My visit with soldiers in Iraq this summer was a totally great experience.”

Quotes 1, 2 & 3 from MaxFighting: The Top 10 Most Influential UFC Fighters of All-Time

Contact: Sara Perkins /

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