Retired UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz says he offered to step in to fight Fedor Emelianenko, but was a little too late.
MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko was slated for his awaited return at Bellator 172 in February against Matt Mitrione. Mitrione, however, was forced out of the fight last minute due to kidney stones.
Instead, the co-main event lightweight bout between Josh Thomson and Patricky “Pitbull” Freire was bumped up to headline the card. But according to newly-retired veteran fighter Tito Ortiz, he was actually in talks with Bellator CEO Scott Coker to possibly step in as Mitrione’s replacement.
“I looked over at Scott Coker, and this was probably two hours before the fight, and he said, ‘You know what? If you’d told me three hours ago, we would have been working on it,’” Ortiz said in a recent interview with MMAJunkie Radio.
At the time, Ortiz was fresh off his final career fight against Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170 barely a month prior. Feeling that he was still in good shape, he was willing to briefly come out of retirement and get a chance of a lifetime.
“I said hell with it. I was in fight shape at the time. It was only three weeks after my fight, and I was still in fight shape. If they needed me at that time, it was one time I would have done it,” Ortiz said.
“They sat and thought about it for a good hour and a half and said, ‘We can’t do it that quick,’ and I said alright. It was a one-time chance, and that’s it. I moved on.”
The Fedor-Mitrione fight has now been rescheduled for Bellator’s New York Event on June 24th at Madison Square Garden.