Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Tito Ortiz, recently spoke with Wrestling Inc. President, Raj Giri about his upcoming fight with the Combate Americanas promotion against former WWE Champion, Alberto Del Rio, this Saturday.
Ortiz admitted that he's been a lifelong fan of WWE, and that includes watching Del Rio ascend to the top of WWE as the first heavyweight Mexican world champion. Ortiz appreciates Del Rio's work in WWE but thinks that Alberto may have bitten off a little more than he can chew calling out Ortiz for an MMA fight.
"I like him just for the fact that he became the first heavyweight Mexican world champion. I was the first American-Mexican UFC champion, and as I watch his career, it was interesting. He was cocky, he did a lot of submissions and so I always bought an interest to it," Tito said. "And now he called me out, and he wants to come to my world, and he wants to fight me, so I've got to watch myself.
"Like I said, I made sure my [MMA] camp was early and I'm doing the work," Ortiz added. "This is not a 'gimmie' fight to me in my heart, to me, I'm taking him seriously and I respect Alberto for choosing me. He could have chosen anyone else for an easier fight but he chose me, and I think, yes, he did bite off a little bit more than he can chew. But at the end of the day, we're going to put on a tremendous fight on December 7th and I know what I need to do to get my hand raised."
Tito believes that Del Rio's sudden willingness to fight may be as simple as a man wanting to prove that he can compete on a new frontier. He compared Del Rio to Brock Lesnar when "The Beast" strayed away from WWE in the early 2000's to pursue UFC.
"For me, you don't have to wave a big, giant carrot in front of my face, so that didn't work for me. I don't know - maybe deep down in his heart, he really is a fighter and he really wants to fight. It's the same thing with Brock Lesnar; Brock Lesnar came to the UFC and became the heavyweight world champion," Tito said. "He had it in his heart and he believed that he could do it, and he did. I think Del Rio has always had that question in his mind of if he can compete with a person the level of myself. This is a question for him now, can he compete against me? He's going to have this opportunity, ya know, but I'm not looking past the guy.
"I want to make sure that I put on an entertaining fight, and show off the hard work and dedication that I put into this fight like I do with every one of my fights. I just think that at the end of the day, the fans are going to be excited. They're going to go through a lot of intense emotions before this fight is over and they walk out," Tito continued. "When we step in that cage and we look across the cage at each other, and the ref says, 'Let's get it on.' I can't wait; it's going to be like watching Discovery Channel and watching a lion eat for the first time of the year."
Tito says that he would be happy to reverse the roles and be competing in a pro wrestling match against Del Rio. He discussed how he's spent time training and preparing himself to become a pro wrestler one day, however, his struggle with separating entertainment from legitimate fighting has kept him from already making a transition.
"I would do him the favor and do it in a wrestling match, 100%. You don't understand, I'm a huge wrestling fan and not even just a wrestling fan, I've always wanted to be a professional wrestler," Ortiz said. "Just because I know I could smash guys; I don't think guys would last that long with me, honestly. As far as the acrobatics and everything, I can pull these things off, I can do these things. I know the moves, I've done the moves, I put myself through camps before with professional wrestlers.
"I understand the idea that these guys want to entertain - I do get that. But I'm a competitive person, I'm a vicious person," Ortiz stated. "So, how do I perceive the difference between a fight and a wrestling match? That's what I'm afraid of. I think Shane McMahon is afraid of the same thing because he doesn't want to see any of his wrestlers get hurt and that's the only reason that I haven't been able to cross-over. But when I do cross-over, I think it will be one of the biggest, electrifying, entertaining nights in professional wrestling history."
Ortiz will face Del Rio in the main event of Combate Americas' debut pay-per-view this Saturday, December 7th at Payne Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. Ortiz's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of today's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post.