- MMA veteran Tito Ortiz was scheduled to face fellow UFC vet Quinton "Rampage" Jackson last year on what was intended to be Bellator's first foray into pay-per-view. The fight - and subsequently the pay-per-view - was cancelled when Ortiz suffered a fractured neck in practice and was forced to pull out of the fight. Since then, there's been no conclusive word as to whether or not the 39-year-old will attempt or be able to make a comeback down the line. Earlier this week on a media teleconference (props to MMAJunkie for the quotes), Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney touched on Ortiz's condition and the possibility of a return for the fighter.
"There's not a substantive answer at this point as to whether he's going to come back, and if he did come back, when that would occur," Rebney explained.
Rebney confirmed that he's seen evidence of the fighter's injury and that a specialist in the field detailed Ortiz's risks of competition, which include paralysis. Given the severity of those consequences, Rebney insists that he and his company will be keeping a close eye on Ortiz's health should he decide to attempt a comeback - but that they aren't ruling it out.
"Just like any kind of injury or break, he may be able to come back from it, and if he's able to come back, we'll relight the fuse and figure out what the steps are to get him into the cage," he said.
Rebney has another obstacle to deal with concerning Ortiz, which is the fighter's recent DUI arrest. Ortiz was arrested on suspicion of DUI on January 6 and spent a brief time in jail. While disappointed over the incident, Rebney said that he will talk to Ortiz about it and that it won't necessarily close the door on a comeback.
"I take DUIs and drunk driving ridiculously seriously," said Rebney. "Tito and I have been texting back and forth. We're going to get together and do a full download on everything that's going on. But my hope is that he can put that behind him.
"Thankfully, no one, including himself, was injured in the situation. That's the most important. But we'll go through talking about that, about his injury and the potential for a comeback."
Ortiz last competed in 2012, where he lost a unanimous decision to Forrest Griffin, marking his seventh loss in nine fights.
- The UFC has announced that Ross Pearson has suffered a knee injury and has been forced to withdraw from his planned March 8 contest against Melvin Guillard. The promotion has already revealed Pearson's replacement for the London-staged UFC Fight Night event: Michael Johnson.
Johnson will enter into the bout on a two-fight win streak, having scored subsequent victories over Joe Lauzon and Gleison Tibau. Guillard was going to face Pearson in a rematch of their October bout, which was ruled a No Contest due to Guillard forcing a stop to the bout with an illegal knee.
The Fight Night event will take place from the O2 Arena and will feature Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa in the main event.
- It appears that controversial Testosterone Replacement Therapy user Vitor Belfort will be applying for a therapeutic use exemption to undergo the treatment leading up to his title fight with Chris Weidman. Ariel Helwani reported on UFC Tonight that comments made recently by the fighter's manager to the contrary were apparently incorrect.
"I spoke with Vitor yesterday and he said he's on TRT and that his doctors said he has to be on it," Helwani revealed. "This has been prescribed and he's planning on applying to be on a TUE for the next fight."
Belfort has been at the center of the TRT controversy over the past year, which has seen him experience a late-career resurgence while undergoing the treatment and fighting exclusively outside of the United States.
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