Tito Ortiz vs Alberto El Patron Hot Take
For eons, the idea of what style of fighting, what form of combat sports, what technique is superior to the other has been the driving factor of speculation, debate and arguments among sports fans. Can a boxer beat a pro wrestler? Can an MMA fighter beat a boxer? Can MMA overpower professional wrestlers? What form of martial arts is truly superior?
Whether its Antonio Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali, Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock or Connor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather, when powerful and loud professional fighters enter the combat zone against each other – there is only one thing guaranteed – that fans will pay attention and will want to see who emerges victorious.
On Saturday December 7th, FITE will provide the platform for that question to be answered yet again when Combate Americas presents Alberto el Patron vs. Tito Ortiz: Winner Takes All.
Neither fighter is a stranger to those who love professional fighting.
Alberto el Patron (formerly known as Alberto Del Rio) had a storied career fighting for PRIDE and performing for World Wrestling Entertainment. He may be the only competitor in the world who can claim he fought both John Cena and Mirko Cro Cop. He's won WWE's Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank and is putting up the possession of his WWE Heavyweight Championship belt against Ortiz.
Meanwhile, Ortiz can lay claim to the success of the entire MMA genre. His outlandish tactics and sheer fighting skills empowered him against Ken Shamrock, Chuck Liddell and others. His time on UFC's The Ultimate Fighter reality series helped bring the sports back from the brink of extinction into the multi-billion dollar industry MMA enjoys today. The UFC Hall of Famer will always be synonymous with excellence in MMA and returns from retirement, placing his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship belt up for grabs.
So, it will be a pro wrestler with MMA experience against an MMA fighter who has dabbled in professional wrestling – a unique, once in a lifetime fight to show who is the better man, who has the better fighting style and once again, attempt to settle the debate of what form of combat sport excels against the other.
FITE spoke with both el Patron and Ortiz prior to this weekend's fight:
MAKING THE DECISION TO TAKE THE FIGHT:
Tito Ortiz: "Well I think this happened right after I fought Chuck Liddell last year. I came to a kind of crossroad in my life, wondering "Can I go into business, or do I continue competing?" And I had to give a close friend of mine, Randy Couture, a call. And I asked Randy straight up when I called him, I said, "Randy, when you're 43, what made you come back and want to win the heavyweight world title for UFC?" And he's like, "You know, Tito? I didn't feel like I was done. Because I felt like I had a lot more to give. You know, my body was right. You know, I would have gone on my own terms." And I felt that same situation. I was like, "Randy, thank you so much for advice. I appreciate it." Hung the phone up with him. Went downstairs, brought my kids to the kitchen table, and I said "Boys, Dad's going to continue to fight." And they had a big smile on their face. They said, "Dad, we know you can do it. You finished Chuck really easy, and your camp was great. We love you competing, and we believe in you." And that was last year, and I started drying in the game and talking to Bellator. And it seems like some things are going to come together. And all of a sudden coming back to America and Campbell McLaren came to me, and he's like, "We have a deal for you." I was like, "Really?" I go, "But who's the opponent?" "Well, this is a part of the deal. The opponent, he wants to fight you. And his name is Alberto Del Rio." I was like, it put a smile on my face. "Alberto Del Rio? You mean the heavyweight world champion for WWE?" He was like, "Yeah." I was like, well, I ain't going to hop on to something too quick. I want to make sure that I do my homework. And I looked him up, and I was like, "All right." He has a 9 and 5 record in mixed martial arts. So he's a fighter, he's wrestled for many years, so he's a wrestler. So you know, our styles have a little similarity, actually. Do you know what? If I'm going to test myself, and I want to push myself, and I want to still compete, and I want to entertain my fans, I think this would be an entertaining fight. I think the fans would like it. You know, it'll be crossover from WWE into MMA. And I agreed to the fight, and it's not only just a fight, it's a one more fight after, and an ambassadorship with Combate America to help them grow their brand. And I was in. I was signed in, you know. That was back in June. In July, I started my camp, and I haven't really looked back. You know, I just kept adding my layers to myself. You know, just getting tougher and tougher and tougher."
Alberto el Patron: "Number one, to continue helping Combate Americas, which is my home, my company to continue to help the company to continue growing the way we've been doing it in the last six years, as you know. And for those not knowing this, but this company helps support Mexican talent, Latin talent in the sport of MMA and we have been doing an amazing job and by doing this I'm making sponsors to look Combate Americas in a different way. We also, by doing this, we also given the first Pay Per View in history for the company. And also to continue making my legacy stronger, to continue showing to all those supporters of lucha libre, or pro wrestling that Alberto Del Rio is still one of the greatest competitors of our time."
THEIR FIGHT CAMPS:
Alberto el Patron: "It's completely different. Just to start with the fact that you have to completely focus in your training camp when you're about to jump in the cage or inside a ring for an MMA fight. I've been in Arizona, in Phoenix, Arizona for the last 10 weeks. That's the place where I'm doing my training camp. We're about to close the training camp because we're only two-and-a- half weeks away from the fight. So I've been there for those ten weeks and just training three times a day, eating, training and sleeping. That's all I've been doing for these last ten weeks. I'm not doing any appearances in pro wrestling. I haven't done any, any nothing, any office work with Combate Americas. I think they have been so nice that they're letting me to be completely focused in this training camp and just getting ready to go in and kick Tito Ortiz's ass in McAllen, Texas."
Tito Ortiz: " I think now, you know, all the way up until about 2003 and you know, I started my career back in 1997. And all the way up to about 2003, I was able to do four days, six days a week, training eight hours a day and just getting as much training as possible. Because I was trying to learn, I was still learning Jiu jitsu. I was learning mixed martial arts. I was learning boxing and kickboxing. I was learning all these things. Now that I know all these things, now I'll just sharpen my tools. Now that I have no injuries, when 2003 all the way up to 2009 I had injury after injury, after injury. I mean I've had a replace ACL on my left wheel, a replace ACL on my right knee. Fifty percent was taken out of my right knee. I've had L5-S1 in my lower back fused. I've had a C6-C7 fused I've had a T3-T2-T1-C7 disc replacement. I've had C5-C4 fused. I've had a reattached retina on my left eye. So I'm like the Million Dollar Man. I'm like the bionic man that got put back together. And there's no more injuries, and my body feels great. And I think last year before I fought Chuck Liddell, I put in an 18-week camp that I was able to actually fight, or excuse me, train for the fight. Not just train for, you know, to get in shape. I was already in shape for the fight. And I did it for this camp also, you know. I started early. I was already in shape for the fight camp in general, and I think it helped out a lot with my timing. It helped out a lot with my sparring, because I wasn't getting tired during sparring, because I was already such in great shape. But I think on the longevity, just of my career, I've been learning this whole time. I've been getting better and better and just keeping my mind open, and just trying to be a student of the game always. And not trying to say, "Oh, this is my way, this is the way it is." But always trying to go out and try to find something newer and better, and a better way to do it, and try to push myself....And a lot of that comes with dedication. I've got to dedicate myself, you know. I can't say, "Oh, I'm getting paid money, and cool, I'm going to show up to fight." No, at the end of the day when I sit in that ring, in that cage, and get in my opponent, it's not about money. It's about my name, it's about my legacy. It's about what I bring to the table. And that's going to be an exciting fight, because I'm in shape to fight. And it's not just, I'm there to make a paycheck out of it. That's not what it's about. It's never been about that, until the fight's over. When the fight's over, I know what I negotiated, I know what I have. I just try to make it exciting for all my fans to watch, every time they watch my pay-per-views or any of my fights. It's always been exciting. Win, lose, or draw, I put on a show."
PREPARING TO ENTER THE CAGE:
Alberto el Patron: "I'm excited and I'm ready. I want this to happen. If the fight will be tomorrow, I will be completely happy. I'm ready. I've been training really hard. I did a really good training camp. I know Tito is doing the same. I know Tito Ortiz has been training. This is his sport. He's been breathing and needing MMA for many years and I know he's ready. I'm ready. I just want to go and fight because that's it, because the training camps are the hard part. The fight, it's three rounds, five minutes each. And it's, you go and submit or knock your opponent out, or you get submitted, or you get knocked out. That's it. The fight is the easy part to put it that way. The harder part is to be 10, 15, 16 weeks away from home and training and fighting every single day because that's why you're doing training camp. It's like having a fight every single day. So I'm just ready, excited and ready to go there and to give the lucha libre, pro wrestling fans, MMA fans the last Alberto Rio appearance inside the cage."
Tito Ortiz: "That's [exactly] what I've been doing for every one of my camps, you know? I just work as hard as possible, you know? So sparring, wrestling, jiu-jitsu. I have the same guys that had been with me over the last 10 years, and I just work hard. I just work to get my hand raised. I worked to put on a show. I worked to make it exciting. I work to try to finish him as fast as possible. And that's my goal, is to finish him within the first round. And you know, I don't look at his history of being a pro wrestler. I don't look at his history of fighting in Pride and how far along he's taken off. For me, this is like fighting for a world title. I'm fighting for a world championship belt. That's my mentality. That's my attitude. And so it's not going to change on December 7th when I step in the cage against him. I think he's going to have to worry about what I'm going to bring to the table, because I'm not worried about what he's going to bring to the table."
WHAT DO YOU HOPE FIGHT FANS TAKE FROM THE FIGHT:
Tito Ortiz: "I want the fans to see a man that has worked really hard through his career over 22 years, who still competes at a fast-paced fight. To make it exciting for the fans to watch, to be entertained by the fight, to enjoy a great mixed-martial arts event with their family and friends and enjoy a few beers and, you know, have a little barbecue and just make it a family time. Or friends gathering. How it used to be. And I think just to make the excitement of, you know, show them how Tito Ortiz can still fight. How I can still get in the cage and compete at the pace that I'll be competing for this flight."
Alberto el Patron: "My dad asked me, "Why? What was the reason why I was doing this?" And I said, "Because." He said, "You know, you have nothing to prove, right?" And then I said, "No, I know. I have something to prove to myself. I have to prove to myself that I'm still that athlete, that competitor that I've always been." But yeah, no, I know. I've done it all. I've seen it all. I'm doing this for the right reason and especially when you work or you are in a company where the entire organization has been supporting you through difficult times like the ones, I had two years ago when I was going through my divorce and the custody. The horrible battle for the custody of my kids. And this company specifically my boss and friend, Campbell McLaren, they supported me the whole way. So when you have people like that, you pay loyalty with loyalty. And I know this is what I'm doing, stepping into the cage one more time. One last time. Take this company to…to get it to the place where we want to have the company. So in December the 7th, they are going to see two competitors. They are going to have decide what side are they on? Mexico, United States? Lucha libre, pro wrestling, or MMA? Tito Ortiz, or Alberto El Rio? They are going to see two competitors one night going for the glory. I've been saying this since the beginning. Tito's is not about ... a bright guy, but he got a terrific idea when he asked me if I would put my WWE title on the line and then he will be putting his UFC title on the line and the winner takes it all. It was a fantastic idea. So they are going to see all of us going for those titles and giving them a hell of a fight."
THE FUTURE AFTER THE FIGHT:
Alberto el Patron: "Well, I'm going to completely focus on Combate. Combate is the place where I feel completely happy. The owner, the boss of the company, Campbell McLaren is one of my best friends, someone that has been supported me for many years. Good ones, bad ones, best ones. And I love what we're doing in the company because we are helping people that has been trying to get an opportunity in other companies to succeed and then they have had the door close in their faces. We are opening that door to all of that Latino, Mexican athletes to have a place to fulfill their dreams, but I will also be doing some pro wrestling after December the 7th. I will after December the 7th, I will just go and enjoy the holidays with my family. And then in 2020 I'll be doing some stuff with pro wrestling again. That's for sure. As you know, pro wrestling has always been the love of my life and you cannot just put that on the side and forget about it. So I'm going to be doing something for the fans in 2020."
Tito Ortiz: "I'll be with Combate Americas. They stand out to me because they're giving an opportunity for all the young fighters to fight on a main stage. And they're so new that there's so many little small things to fix to make it that much better for the future of all that mixed martial artists that want to compete, making brands of themselves. And not just thinking about the company itself, you know? And I think they're giving me an opportunity of being an ambassador, of coming back in and helping with the young fighters who want to be up and coming world champions. Who want to be household names, and I think that's what it's about. BELLATOR has been doing that themselves. UFC has always done that, and they kind of shied away from trying to make them household names because they don't want to pay him more money. But you know, I think this is a big thing, is able to build fighters where they're loved and cherished by every fan. And it's important to tell the story of the fighters, because it's not told the right way sometimes. Or it's not told at all. And I think being on a different side of the coin with Combate, as an ambassador, I think I can help them on many levels to make it a little bit better. But at the same time, these fighters have an opportunity to fight on the big stage, and we're going to do that on the first pay-per-view on December 7th."