November 21, 2009–It seems like just yesterday that UFC Superstar Tito Ortiz was attending a photo shoot for the cover of VegasGolfer magazine, posing menacingly with a driver in hand while stomping on the neck of a 'fallen golfer'. But this day actually occurred in 2005 at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco Golf Club, a beautiful Rees Jones design. Following the shoot, Ortiz and this writer played 18 holes, talking golf, business, life and fighting. Now tonight, Ortiz is back in the UFC fold, fighting Forrest Griffin in a rematch of a classic 2006 fight that happened several months following the round at Rio Secco. Ortiz won the fight via a controversial decision.
"Golf and fighting both take a lot of concentration," Tito said back then while strolling up the 18th fairway. "They are both like a chess match where every move puts you in position for the next. And everything can go downhill in a hurry if you make a mistake. Sports are 80% mental. Golf and fighting are no different." Ortiz, at the time and maybe still to this day, had a home on Sea Cliffs Country Club in Huntington Beach, near the mean streets where he grew up. The home and course were a welcome retreat and a place "to chill" and get away from the violent times in the cage.
Las Vegas' Rio Secco Golf Club is operated by Harrah's Entertainment, and is one of two Rees Jones Las Vegas golf courses owned by the large gaming company. The sister course to Rio Secco is Cascata, a Las Vegas golf course that has earned supremely high rankings in ZAGAT surveys. Click now to the official Cascata website for more information or to reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times or Las Vegas golf packages. Rio Secco Golf Club is also home to the Butch Harmon School of Golf (his schools are open to all golfers) and the world-famous T-Mates, beautiful female caddies who make a round at Rio Secco even more memorable. Click now to the official website of Rio Secco Golf Club for more information or to reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times or Las Vegas golf packages.
Ortiz, nicknamed the Huntington Beach Bad Boy, still enjoys golf, as evident by appearances in celebrity golf events and probably occasional games with friends as his schedule allows. But Ortiz is very busy not only in the ring but out of the ring, building his personal brand, being a Dad, continuing the business of his Punishment clothing line and store, and being the significant other to adult film star Jenne Jameson. In 2005, Ortiz spoke about his new clothing line–it was fledgling at the time but now is doing very well–and his ongoing dispute with UFC President and Las Vegas resident Dana White. In fact, Ortiz wasn't officially a part of the UFC when we played golf, and was in negotiations to create a rival fighting league. None of that happened, but the problems with White worsened until the two reconciled earlier this yearm, and Ortiz signed a new, six-fight deal with the UFC.
Ortiz also revealed during the golf that he doesn't neccesarily like conflict and gets very worked up before each fight. But he relies on his determination to get through the nerves and tension. "I compete in everything I do whether it's business, golf, fighting, whatever," Ortiz said. "I get nervous and I throw up before every fight. When I'm fighting it feels like skydiving, with my stomach falling for an hour. But I have to make sure I give (the people) what they pay for."
Ortiz recently underwent successful back surgery, but is somewhat concerned about not having fought for more than a year due to the contract dispute. "This is my comeback fight," Ortiz told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm not going to lie, it's been a challenge for me. Not pain. I have no [back] pain, but I'm dealing with the fatigue from not fighting so long. I'm like 80-90% now, not 100. Coming back is hard mentally and physically. So even though I won't be going anywhere — I have five fights left on my contract — it's kind of do or die for both of us. But I promise I'm going to get in there and entertain. I can't wait." –Brian Hurlburt.