For more than three years, MMA legend Tito Ortiz stood atop the mountain as the UFC light-heavyweight champion.
Winning the title from Wanderlei Silva in 2000, Ortiz began a reign that is still unmatched.
He was the UFC's biggest draw at a time when the brand was leaking popularity.
On Friday, the UFC Hall of Famer will be in Perth to commentate on local promoter Grady Stewart’s next event, Bragging Rights 4.
“I remember when I first started we were begging for people to come and cover the local events and now they’re begging us,” Ortiz told thewest.com.au.
“This thing’s just getting bigger and bigger. Grady bringing Bragging Rights to Perth really gives people an opportunity to see just how exciting it is.”
After spending yesterday in Melbourne with WA boxer Danny Green, Ortiz said MMA was growing faster than ever.
“For me, boxing’s like checkers and MMA’s like chess – there are so many ways to win the match,” he said.
“It’s not barbaric; it’s boxing, kickboxing, ju-jitsu, wrestling, cardio and it’s all reached such an amazing level.
“As fans learn more about the sport, they just fall in love with it.”
Promoter and former boxer Stewart, who hails from the same part of California as Ortiz, said he wanted to make Perth Australia’s MMA capital.
“Perth’s my home now and I’m personally taking it upon myself to make Perth the MMA mecca of Australia,” he said.
“I think (Perth) has a lot of potential and a few of the gyms are realising the importance of bringing in high-level coaches.
“I have the reach to the biggest names in the sport and I get them at mates’ rates.
“I’m not trying to compete with the UFC, the idea is to bring local fighters up and get them in the UFC.”
Friday night's card at Kingsway Indoor Stadium will feature Perth’s best young fighters against some serious US talent.
In the main event, homegrown hero Steve “Steamrolla” Kennedy (13-5) will defend his K-Oz middleweight championship against former UFC fighter Jesse “JT Money” Taylor (22-9).
And in the co-main, former Strikeforce fighter Dave “Hollywood” Hulett (32-12) will meet Perth prospect Dave “Machete” Johnson (6-1) for the welterweight championship.For details, visit www.k-ozentertainment.com.au.
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