Next month, I'll be in Las Vegas, Nevada, sitting in the MGM Grand Arena, anticipating seeing the last UFC fight for Tito Ortiz. Though the UFC won't historically feature him in the same manner as they will Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture (well, let's hope that one gets fixed) when they are gone, Tito Ortiz played just as big of a part of the rise of UFC as those other two did. Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, not Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, drew the biggest ever UFC PPV buy rate. What buy rate record did that fight break? None other than Ortiz's grudge match with Ken Shamrock in the summer of 2006.
For every hero, there is a foil. Muhammed Ali had to topple George Foreman. Tito Ortiz was that for Chuck Liddell. Though Liddell handled Ortiz fairly easily twice, it was Ortiz's flair and arrogance that made people want to see Liddell beat him up. And they were going to pay for it out of their wallet too.
Ortiz made Dana White and the Fertita Brothers a lot of money. But in the game of mixed martial arts, there isn't really a lot of loyalty. Randy Couture has had issues with the UFC more than once and today, isn't shown or mentioned on television broadcasts. I don't expect Ortiz to get a big send off. The reason he's leaving anyway is because is doesn't get along with White and they don't want to pay him what he thinks he's worth, and what he thinks he can get from other promotions like Elite XC.
On May 24, 2008, I'll be booing Tito Ortiz like the rest of them, but I'll be doing it more so because he's the ultimate heel and that he's good at his job, rather than because I don't like him. It'll be a respectful booing.