Ten years and 14 fights since he last walked to the cage with a UFC championship belt on his person, Tito Ortiz still holds one particularly important record.
He is the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in the UFC's 20 years of fight promotion. (UFC 1 was in 1993, but weight classes weren't introduced until UFC 12 in 1997.)
Ortiz won the belt from Wanderlei Silva on April 14, 2000, and lost it to Randy Couture on Sept. 26, 2003. In between, Ortiz successfully defended the title five straight times, beginning with Yuki Kondo and ending with Ken Shamrock.
As Ortiz, 37, prepares for the final fight of career — July 7 at UFC 148 against Forrest Griffin — he thinks current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones will be the man to break his record.
“I would love for it to stick around, but I think Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones will be the one to beat me,” Ortiz said. “If there’s any person in the world I’d love to see do it, I would love to see him do it because he’s such a good dude. He’s a good guy. I like him a lot. I think he represents the sport very well, I mean, until he got his DWI.”
Jones, 24, crashed his Bentley into a pole in the early morning of May 19 in Binghamton. He was charged with driving while intoxicated in the one-car accident that left no one injured. Jones pleaded guilty to the charge on May 29 and awaits a sentencing hearing June 19.
Jones (16-1) is scheduled to make his fourth title defense on Sept. 1 against former Olympic wrestler and Pride champion Dan Henderson.
“We all make mistakes at a young age,” Ortiz said. “If he beats my record, then he’s done some great things.”