Ortiz welcomes career finale against Sonnen

Tito Ortiz has one fight left on his contract with Bellator MMA, and he admits there's no guarantee his storied career will continue beyond that.

If this last contracted fight does prove to be his finale, Chael Sonnen isn't a bad opponent to go out on.

After taking most of 2016 off to recover from neck surgery, Ortiz, 41, is back in the gym and plotting his next move. Up until this week, discussions had centered on a potential matchup with heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko -- but Ortiz says those talks had reached something of an impasse as of late.

Enter Sonnen (28-14-1), who recently announced a multi-year deal with Bellator and immediately called out Ortiz for his debut.

"I had zero heads-up Chael was signing with Bellator," Ortiz told ESPN.com. "I was thinking Fedor or [Quinton] 'Rampage' [Jackson]. I think this is a bigger fight than those. Chael interests me more than Fedor because he has a bigger following. He knows how to talk, and there's history between us."

Bellator president Scott Coker is currently out of the country, but Ortiz expects to discuss the fight when he returns. Sonnen, who is coming off a two-year drug suspension, wishes to fight Ortiz before year's end.

"I'd like a full camp for this," Ortiz said. "I like to fulfill my contracts and I have one more fight with Bellator. I think that's why I've waited so long for the right opponent, the possibility this could be my last fight."

As far as the potential fight against Emelianenko, Ortiz said there had been discussions even though Bellator has not officially signed the Russian talent.

One of the holdups was weight. Ortiz fights at light heavyweight and says he walks around at a maximum of 220 to 225 pounds. According to Ortiz, Emelianenko (36-4), who retired in 2012 but returned to competition in 2015, balked at the idea of a catchweight.

"He doesn't want to make the sacrifice to get down to my weight," Ortiz said. "I would have to give him everything he wanted to make him happy, which really didn't make much sense. I've sat back for a month and tried to get the guy to meet me at a catchweight and it still wouldn't happen.

"I think Chael makes the most sense. He can sell the fight and I see it as redemption. It's a perfect style matchup for me."

The redemption Ortiz speaks of is in regards to a collegiate wrestling match. Ortiz wrestled at California State University-Bakersfield while Sonnen was a standout All-American at Oregon University.

They met once on the mats, and on Ortiz's birthday of Jan. 23. Sonnen ended up pinning Ortiz, who remembers the match ending very quickly.

"I remember that loss because it was on my birthday and I embarrassed myself," Ortiz said. "I ran stairs for 30 minutes after. My coach came up and said, 'You better come with us now or we'll leave you here.'

"That might have been just a college wrestling match, but it's competition to me. Payback's a b---- and I'm excited. Chael can thank me for all the smack talk he has done in his career. If it wasn't for me, he wouldn't have known how to do any of that. I guess I'm flattered by it, but I'm working hard to smash this guy."

According to Ortiz, Bellator has broached the topic of extending his contract, but he opted to finish his obligation and then reassess.

Still fighting out of Huntington Beach, California, after all these years, Ortiz says any decision to fight beyond this last part of his deal will not be based on financial needs.

"I would love to fight the next 20 years, but my life is settled financially," Ortiz said. "I'm great. I want to make sure I'm around for my boys. Continuing to fight means more training camps. People only think of the fights, but the fights are free. We get paid for the training camps.

"A 12-week camp is grueling and brutal on the body. I'm not a young man to keep doing that fight to fight. I'm taking it one at a time. I'll get through this one, get my hand raised and think about what's going to happen after that."