MANILA, Philippines – Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz believes that in his prime, he could have beaten reigning champion Jon “Bones” Jones.
Ortiz has one of the most successful title reigns in the history of the division, defending the belt a total of five times before eventually dropping it to Randy Couture.
“An injury-free Tito Ortiz is very, very dangerous,” he said, as quoted by ESPN. “When I’m injury-free, I’m very dangerous.”
“If I was the same guy, but without the surgeries, then I’d still be the champion. When I look back at my loss to Couture, that’s when I had my first back problem,” Ortiz added.
“I was suffering right through that fight camp, and I suffered for seven years with that back problem.”
Ortiz already has a fight plan to beat Jones, including a way to neutralize Jones’ infamous reach advantage.
“Pressure,” he said. “Don’t let him use that reach – try to close down the space with tons of pressure. Use my strength, use my wrestling.”
Jones has defended his belt three times, against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida and “Suga” Rashad Evans – all of whom were former champions themselves.
He will next defend the belt against mixed martial arts legend Dan Henderson.
Ortiz, meanwhile, will make his UFC swan song at UFC 148, wherein he will fight Forrest Griffin for the third time.