Tito Ortiz To Return From Injury to Fight Ryan Bader at UFC 132

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Following the first professional setback of his career, Ryan Bader (12-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has gotten his wish on a return opponent.

The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 8″ now stands between Tito Ortiz (15-8-1 MMA, 14-8-1 UFC) and a possible pink slip.

UFC 132, which is expected to take place July 2 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, hosts the light-heavyweight fight, and it’s likely to get main-card treatment.

MMAWeekly.com today first reported the matchup. UFC president Dana White has since confirmed the bout with ESPN.

Bader this past month told the sports news giant that Ortiz was at the top of his list following a loss to newly minted light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 126.

Ortiz, meanwhile, was gunning for a third fight with Forrest Griffin after the two sparred on Twitter. The two split wins at UFC 59 and UFC 106.

But that fight was a fantasy replacement for the one Ortiz was supposed to fulfill. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” was due to meet Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 24 before he suffered a bad cut in training that forced him to withdraw.

White said the March 26 fight was Ortiz’s last stand after a losing streak that extended nearly five years and four fights, with a lone draw to Rashad Evans at UFC 73 being his only ray of light. He most recently lost a unanimous decision to Matt Hamill this past October at UFC 121.

The UFC president said Ortiz’s must-win stakes may extend to the July 2 fight with Bader.

“The last [fight] was a must-win for Tito,” White told ESPN. “Tito lost his last fight and told me, he pleaded to me and Lorenzo (Fertitta), about how nobody has beaten him up, that he can still do this, to give him another chance, and this and that and everything else.

“We’ll see what happens.”

Prior to his setback against Jones, Bader earned the biggest win of his career when he outpointed Nogueira this past September at UFC 119. That followed a knockout win over Keith Jardine at UFC 110.