Ortiz, who turns 39 tomorrow, has been sidelined since October with a neck injury. He hasn't fought inside the cage since July of 2012, when he lost a unanimous decision to Forrest Griffin.
Despite the injury and being out of commission for 18 months, Rebney expects Ortiz to compete sometime in the near future.
“If a fighter becomes injured, or is unable to compete, it’s what’s called tolling. The contract basically stops until such time as the fighter can compete. And when the fighter can compete and is 100-percent cleared then everything reignites and starts up again. It’s almost like time stops as the fighter recuperates from an injury or gets to a position to where he can compete again,” explained the Bellator CEO.
“Tito and I have got to sit down, work through it, talk about it, and if he is going to get back inside the cage, which is a distinct possibility, figure out what the best launch pad is and how he’d want to do that and what makes sense,” added Rebney.
Rebney said Ortiz is still under contract with Bellator. The promotion is just taking it day by day with him while he recovers.
“Tito is still with us. I’ve got to sit down and really download with Tito,” said Rebney. “When I initially got on the phone with the doctors, and Tito announced to us that he had fractured his neck, that was and is the primary concern. There’s not a substantive answer at this point to whether he’s going to come back.
“We’re having discussions with him. The key was to get 120-percent healed. It’s an unsettling conversation to have a specialist in the field of neck injuries to tell you that with the right kind of drop on the head, or the right kind of impact on the spine, paralysis could be a result. That’s never a good conversation: A) for a world class althete, but B) it’s never a good conversation for the person in my position charged with putting that person inside of a cage to fight against top tier competition.”
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