Tito Ortiz has spent almost 20 years as a professional cage fighter, but he says he is finally ready to call it quits for one simple reason: his health.
The fighter is scheduled for one last bout this weekend where he will take on Chael Sonnen, but Ortiz says it will absolutely be his last. Of course, some have dismissed his statements because it isn’t the first time Ortiz has said he would retire. He already retired once in 2012, only to return two years later.
However, Ortiz says this time is different and he is “100 percent” sure the upcoming fight will be his finale. The reason? The fighter says he doesn’t want to face long-term brain damage and he is already experiencing frightening physical signs it may be too late.
“I’ve had over 25 concussions, over eight surgeries” Ortiz told ESPN’s 5ive Rounds podcast. “Sparring is probably the hardest thing in training — getting punched in the face, concussions. I don’t want any type of brain damage.”
Ortiz also specifically cites the epidemic of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in professional football and the recent movie depicting its discovery for motivating him to quit.
“I don’t know if you guys got the opportunity to watch the ‘Concussion’ movie with Will Smith. That’s scary. It’s a scary feeling. Over this last year, I got a few small symptoms like that — forgetful, takes me a second to think about some ideas. I don’t want that to happen [long term]. I want to make sure I walk away at the right time. Now is a good time.”
Of course, he still has one last fight to go. Still, it is good to see a growing awareness of the health risks related to violent sports like boxing and football. While broken bones may heal, repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries can leave a mark on your brain that may never fade away.