This Is Gonna Hurt: The Life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion

This Is Gonna Hurt: The Life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion

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by Tito Ortiz

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He's the ultimate showman in the world's greatest spectator sport — a controversial, charismatic figure who has dominated Ultimate Fighting for more than ten years as one of its most exciting and skillful stars. But for Tito Ortiz, life very nearly took a different path. Growing up in Huntington Beach, California, Ortiz spent part of his childhood living in

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He's the ultimate showman in the world's greatest spectator sport — a controversial, charismatic figure who has dominated Ultimate Fighting for more than ten years as one of its most exciting and skillful stars. But for Tito Ortiz, life very nearly took a different path. Growing up in Huntington Beach, California, Ortiz spent part of his childhood living in motels and in the backs of other people's houses, as his heroin-addicted parents were forced to leave one apartment after another. By the time he was in sixth grade, he had dabbled in almost every drug available, and his early youth involved time in juvenile detention centers, a string of petty crimes, and a stint in a local gang. Then, in high school, Tito discovered wrestling — the perfect match for this tough, streetwise, ambitious kid. Tito made his mixed martial arts debut at UFC 13 in 1997, winning his first fight in twenty-two seconds. In 2000, he was chosen as a light heavyweight contender in UFC 25 and took the belt, successfully defending it five times in the following three years. Tito Ortiz pulls no punches as he recounts his journey from Huntington Beach Bad Boy to UFC superstardom — his difficult upbringing, his first marriage and struggles with fidelity, his battles with the UFC, his career highs and lows, and his current happy relationship with former porn star Jenna Jameson. An inspirational story of beating the odds, and an incredible glimpse into just what it takes to win in the world's most brutal arena, This Is Gonna Hurt is raw, frank, funny, and as fearless as its subject.

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Gimme Some Truth

When I was a kid I had lots of dreams.

I was nine years old and running with some friends who used to sniff glue all the time. In hindsight, it was a dumb thing to do, but back in the day, that's what kids did and I was right there with them when they did it. When I would sniff glue, I would get real high and hallucinate. I would hallucinate that people were all around me, taking my picture and saying, "Tito, look this way! Look this way!" I would look up and see my name on a marquee. In big letters it said: TITO ORTIZ. I had dreams. I had lots of dreams about growing up and being famous. I didn't really know what it meant to be a star when I was nine years old, but just thinking about it made me feel real good at a time when my life was shit.

I remember realizing years later, long after I stopped sniffing glue, got a lot smarter, and began taking the idea of being an Ultimate Fighter seriously, that the dreams had become a reality.

I was defending my Ultimate Fighting Championship belt against Elvis Sinosic in a packed arena in New Jersey. I had defended my title several times over the years, and once I became the top dog on the mixed martial arts scene, I brought fans down on both sides of Tito Ortiz.

Some people hated me and booed me whenever I fought. Some people loved me and cheered. There was no middle ground. But the main thing was that people knew me as the champion. It was my hand that was inevitably raised in victory and it was my opponent's body that usually ended up on the floor at my feet.

I have a high opinion of myself. Call it ego, cockiness, whatever the hell you want. But the reality is that I am the best of the best in a very brutal sport.

At the Sinosic fight, the cheers easily outnumbered the boos as I walked down the stage and into the caged-in Octagon. Flames from my pre-fight entrance shot up toward the ceiling. That night my entrance music was "Ortiz Anthem" by Fieldy's Dreams from the Rock N Roll Gangster album, and it was bumping. I entered carrying my trademark American and Mexican flags, the symbols of pride in my mixed heritage. Thousands of people were screaming my name. The lights went out. I was all caught up in the electricity of the moment.

And I started crying.

I had gone from being this little punk kid, whose parents were heroin addicts and whose mother was seeing men for money, to being here at center stage. All I could think of at that moment was that all these people were here for me. It touched me. I had made it.

I had lots of dreams when I was a kid — a kid whose future looked like a road map of addiction, prison, or death. Now, barely in my mid-twenties, I was living the best possible dream.


It's been a few years since then — a lot of fights, a lot of ups and downs. I've made it to age thirty-two. I'm sitting in my home in Huntington Beach, California, getting ready to tell the stories, good and bad, that have made up my life. Writing this book is like therapy for me. And I'll be honest with you, I feel more than a little bit of anxiety at the idea of opening up my life to countless strangers.

People are going to feel things when they read this book. People who thought they knew everything there was to know about me, the people I consider close friends, are going to learn things that they didn't know before. By the time you finish this book, you are going to know everything there is to know about me.

And maybe more than you want to know.

I'm not afraid to say these things, to let people know where I really came from and how I got here. All the material stuff — the cars, the houses, the money — yeah, I have all that and I've worked real hard to get those things. But that's the superficial shit. What's important is to explain how I got to this point...and to clear up all the misconceptions.

This book is going to let people know who Tito Ortiz really is.

To the people who pay good money to watch me fight and who read the stories in magazines and on the Internet, I'm known as the big, strong, and, yes, cocky fighter who kicks people's asses for money. The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, a larger-than-life professional hit man who bloodies people and breaks bones.

But for me it really isn't about the fighting. Because I'm not really a fighter. I'm an Aquarius — an Aquarius to a T. I'm a soft-spoken, cool guy with all my friends. Before just about every fight I've ever had, I've cried. A lot of times I've even thrown up. But that was just the fear leaving me.

When it's fight time, I flip the switch on and there's this character that comes out of me that's not me. I have an out-of-body experience when I fight. I see myself fight from a place outside the ring. It sounds like some kind of fantasy. But make no mistake, when I fight it's a brutal reality.

Months and months of training go into that fifteen minutes in the cage. When I'm in the Octagon and I'm repeatedly punching a guy in the face, there are no pulled punches, no screwups, and no thrown matches. At that moment, I'm doing everything in my power to break down my opponent and destroy him.

But then it's over and I go back to being the guy I've always been. I'll go out and party. I'll drink and, although I don't do it much anymore, I might smoke a joint. I'll hang out with my friends and spend some time with my woman. In other words, when the fight's over, I go back to being Tito Ortiz. Regular guy.

This book is not intended to make me out to be some kind of saint or role model. I couldn't be either if I tried. Because I'm flawed. I'm imperfect. I've made mistakes. Lots of them.

By the time I reached the sixth grade, I had done just about every drug there was to do except heroin. I would never do heroin because I saw how it had destroyed my parents' lives and I didn't want to go down that road. But pot? Acid? Mushrooms? Sure, I did it all. Especially when I wasn't drinking. I was a drug dealer for a time, selling marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine in order to survive.

I was a tough, streetwise kid who ran with a gang called F Troop, and we did a lot of bad shit. I did two sentences in juvenile detention centers. I almost died twice. And in one of those instances someone I cared deeply about nearly died.

I've been unfaithful too many times to count. Affairs meant nothing to me but momentary sexual gratification. That people were getting hurt in the process meant nothing to me. After all, I was Tito Ortiz, a big kid playing in an adult sandbox and trying to overcome the lack of attention and the abandonment that had haunted me since the day I was born.

The fact that my parents were drug addicts is the one thing that haunts me the most. It hurt, but it also changed my life. If they had not been drug addicts, I might have had a luxurious life. If they had not been drug addicts, what you're about to read might never have happened.

My life has been the worst and it's also been the best.

I've had the love of a good woman named Kristin, who remains an important part of my life as the mother of my son Jacob even though we are no longer together. She is the daily recipient of all the love and respect I can give her. I am in a committed relationship with a wonderful woman named Jenna, whose love and devotion knows no limits. I have made peace with my mother. Sadly, my father and I remain apart, but I have good friends. I am truly blessed.

And yes, there are people out there who hate my guts. They've said horrible things about me. They've said vile things about the people I care for, which really bothers me. But at the end of the day, I don't really have time for the haters.

Being a role model is definitely out of the question for me. The best I can hope for in writing this book is to be an inspiration.

I think I've got the qualifications for that because I've gone through the best and the worst. I was planning to be a teacher when I finished college. I wanted to take kids who were exactly like me and pull them out of the streets and the gangs and away from parents who were drug addicts and give them some idea of a better life. Being a world-class fighter and someone in the public eye has given me the opportunity to make a difference in a lot of kids' lives.

It's impossible to reach them all. Some have slipped through the cracks — like my childhood friend Nacho, who is currently serving twenty-five to life for a crime I was nearly involved in but, because I didn't want to miss wrestling practice, chose not to do. That day I was awfully damned lucky. Or maybe God was just looking out for me.

I'm getting ready to tell the stories that, for better or worse, have made me the person I am today. And I'll have some help.

Memories are often an elusive thing. Perspectives and impressions are like shifts in the wind. A lot of the important moments in my journey came to pass before I was even born. A lot of important moments were lost to me through years of alienation and a refusal to confront my demons. So at points in my story, the three important women in my life, my mother, Joyce Robles, my ex-wife, Kristin Ortiz, and the love of my life, Jenna Jameson, will fill in the blanks and help paint a complete picture.

Because, in a sense, this is their story as well as mine.

I'm secure. I'm happy. I sleep well at night and I work real hard for my family and the people I love. Those are the things that make Tito Ortiz tick.

I've had a lot of people tell me that I'm living in hell, so I'm surely going to heaven when I die. I'll leave that decision in the hands of God.

Because I know I've done my job as a man on this earth. Copyright © 2008 by Tito Ortiz

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