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At UFC 44, after a near year-long layoff from the sport, Ortiz fought the new Interim Light Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture, who had defeated Chuck Liddell for the interim title at UFC 43 in September 2003. The loss ended Ortiz's near three and a half year title reign, which was the longest Light Heavyweight Championship reign until Jon Jones won his sixth victory while maintaining the Light Heavyweight Championship on September 21, 2013.Following his loss to Couture, Ortiz faced Chuck Liddell at UFC 47, losing by TKO in the second round.After six months off, Ortiz returned and took a unanimous decision victory over newcomer Patrick Côté at UFC 50 and a split decision over Vitor Belfort at UFC 51.In February 2005, Ortiz took time away from the UFC and was offered deals with several promotions, including PRIDE Fighting Championships and the Don King-backed World Fighting Alliance.Ortiz defeated Silva for the vacant Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 25 via unanimous decision.He went on to defend the Light Heavyweight Championship a record five times in the following three years, defeating Yuki Kondo, Evan Tanner, Elvis Sinosic, Vladimir Matyushenko and Lion's Den head Ken Shamrock.Ortiz had a difficult childhood as both of his parents were addicted to heroin, while Ortiz was involved with street gangs, was placed in juvenile halls, and used drugs such as cocaine and PCP.His parents divorced when he was 13 years old, and his mother took the young Ortiz with her back to Huntington Beach.
Despite dominating Mezger at first, Ortiz lost the fight at in the first round by a guillotine choke submission.
Still in college, Ortiz competed as an amateur for no prize money or contracts.