Man, if this guy doesn't seem to be the most arrogant person in the world. He's not at the top of the food chain anymore. I don't care if I ever see him fight again.
Sorry Tito, but your attitude, or the public version of who you are just rubs me the wrong way. I don't think your fights are exciting. I'm not a fan of Rashad Evans; I was pulling for you in that fight. However, it came out a draw because you lost a point for grabbing the fence. Even if you hadn't lost that fight, you didn't finish him. Tito Ortiz should have obliterated Rashad Evans.
Anyway, I wish you the best. I hope the fights you've signed up for make me change my mind about you...and please, please, please, put away Rashad Evans.
Tito Thinking In the Long-term
By Holli Yargo Hearne
He’s known for agitating t-shirts such as “Guy Metzger Is My Bitch” which set off the three-fight war between him and Ken Shamrock. Tito Ortiz is not just a celebrity athlete; he is a mixed martial arts icon and, frankly, a UFC money maker. Ortiz is largely responsible for packing the houses of many 2006 and 2007 UFC events and is a household name to even the most casual MMA fan.
Now, with the last fight of his current UFC contract looming in the near future, the Huntington Beach Bad Boy is looking to the future, including a rematch with Rashad Evans, the smaller light heavyweight who fought the former champion to a draw at UFC 73. Ortiz has made no secret that he feels Evans stands between him and another shot at the LHW belt. He’s also made no secret of his feelings about Dana White, president and figurehead of the UFC; the two are not exactly exchanging greeting cards for holidays.
I recently had the chance to talk with Tito Ortiz about Evans, White, the t-shirts, and the future.
Holli Hearne: Tito, this is Holli Hearne. First of all, I don’t know how controversial this is for you, but I wanted to start with the boxing match between you and Dana (White) and…
Tito: That’s, uh, that was pretty much the Dana White show that was on Spike TV. When it came about, when I did my contract, me and Dana actually we did a match of boxing. We sparred each other all the time so…And then all the sudden there was the possibility of it being on Spike TV and it being on MMA.tv where it would be pay per view or so forth. You know, I’m a smart business man and when I first talked to him he said, “Yeah, we’ll do everything 50/50” because at first it was just going on DVD. And then all of a sudden there was a chance of putting it on Spike and me and Dana getting paid and so forth.
I just wanted 50% of the revenue or whatever thing they said was going to be brought in from the show where we were going to be boxing each other. And he said, “No, no, no, we can’t do that. We’re not going to be able to give you what you want.” I was like, you know what, I don’t want to do it then. So, the part on the show on Spike of me no-showing, that was just him not wanting me to get over on anything. He was just going to treat me as a fighter and no more than that. And you know that’s one of the reasons why I pulled out because there was no contract, there was no bout agreement, there was no contract saying where the money was going and I’m a smart guy, I’m not going to sit there and trust them because I didn’t want to be taken advantage of.
That makes sense. What do you think the impact would have been on UFC and Zuffa if that fight would have actually happened?
If that would have actually happened, I would take Dana serious and knocked him unconscious. But it’s fine. It’s fine the way it happened and you know I’m going on with my career…
OK so moving on to Rashad Evans, the draw. Were you satisfied with the draw after losing a point?
You know I wasn’t satisfied with a draw. I still thought I won. You know, the first round I dominated completely. The second round I dominated completely but I had a point taken away. The third round we both got a take down so that’s still a draw round so I think I won the first round and should have won the split decision.
Even with the point taken away, I still thought I won. But you know, Rashad just got lucky. He got saved by a point being taken away and a draw became a loss to him.
What are you doing to prepare for the rematch?
Pretty much just the same thing. I’ll keep doing the same stuff and I’ll just train a little harder. You know right now I’ve had some back injuries since after the fight. I have another couple of weeks of physical therapy and after that’s done I’ll start training for the fight itself and get ready for it and do the same stuff I did for the last fight.
Was he what you expected when you fought him or was he a better fighter than you expected or…
He was the fighter I expected, the same fighter that I watched on TV. He was a little bit better with how fast he was than what I expected. His strength was a lot less than what I expected. He was not strong. But he’s just a smaller guy. To me, he’s really a 185 pounder fighting at 205. He went from heavyweight to 205 now I think he should go down to 185. But after I beat him it will just solidify my first win.
To my understanding, this rematch is going to be the last fight on your contract. What do you anticipate happening after that contract is over?
I’ve actually taken a step, since me and Dana really don’t have a good working relationship, I’ve gone a step over him. I’m going straight to Lorenzo Fertitta, the owner of UFC and I’ll speak with him. He’s a very smart businessman and he looks out for my best interest and I’m excited too.
I’ll be re-signing with the UFC and they gave me what I want. I know a lot of other companies that are asking about me and I can’t count how many phone calls I’ve said “I can’t talk to you guys anymore,” because it’s against my contract. I’ve got guys literally who have called me and they’ve said, “Is this Tito?” And I’ve said, “Yes.” And they’ll say, “This is so and so.” And I’ll have to stop them right there and tell them, “Oh, let me stop you there. I can’t talk to you no more.”
It’s just one of those things. I think if you look at the history of Ultimate Fighting Championship, and you look at a person or a fighter who’s made more money for the company than any other fighter in the world, my name’s going to be right on top of all those names, way past Liddell, way past Couture because I’ve had a huge draw and a huge fan base that still support me 100%, win, lose, or draw.
You pretty much hold a record for ticket sales as far as pay per view shows…
Yeah, for sure. I mean, even for ticket sales for the fights at the gate. We’ve sold out almost everyone one of the houses that I’ve ever fought in. It just shows how powerful my fans are, how much support they give me and how much I love them.
How much of the kind of mean t-shirts are marketing for you?
Well, you know, it’s all marketing. It’s all smart, intelligent marketing that’s been through my whole career. The t-shirts get into the guys heads a little bit and make my fans want to support me more. It’s just one of those things that I see as a marketing tool that I’ve used really well and I will continue to use it. It’s just being a smart PR person. I learned a lot from other guys and I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing.
I think they’re funny.
Ah, well, thank you much. You know, some of them mean a lot to me. You know, I lot of them I get are for the troops and so forth. But I just find a happy medium between all of them.
Moving on to maybe some general questions. What do you feel about the popularity of MMA right now? Where do you see it going?
I think it’s just starting to be recognized as one of the largest sports in the world. It’s grown so fast, faster than NASCAR. It’s really one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Fans are really educated and getting more educated on the sport. We’re selling out tickets at arenas and it shows that this sport is finally almost where it needs to be. In another year or two and we’ll be right where we need to be. You know when Tito Ortiz is a household name, you know this sport has really gone far.
For you personally, what are your ultimate MMA goals?
Of course, my number one goal is to win my world championship back. I want to be competing for another 3 or 4 more years and I want to make sure I make the best of it for next 3 or 4 years. That’s my first goal is to become world champion once again.
What do you feel like was your greatest moment in MMA and why?
You know my greatest moment, I would have to say, is when I beat Wanderlei Silva for the light heavyweight belt. I look back on that and there was a lot of hard work that happened really, really quick. I was a champion within a year and a half and it’s just one of those things that I worked really, really worked hard to get where I am. I had the world championship belt around my waist and I realized that with hard work and dedication and if I never stop believing in my dreams that you can achieve anything.
What would you say was your worst moment?
My worst moment must have been when I fought Randy Couture. When I lost to him, I lost my title to him. I’d say that was my worst moment. You know that really hurts my heart. If people understood how hard I train and how serious I take my job. I’m working 8 hours a day, six days a week and I’m really putting my butt on the line so when I come out with a loss, I feel like I failed all of my fans. It really hurts you. But I pick up my stuff and continue on with my life and continue competing and never let anything hold me back.
Would you say that Couture was your toughest opponent?
I wouldn’t say my toughest. I think Liddell. It’s a mismatch between me and him just because we trained with each other. We know how each other fight.
Finally, tell me about Punishment Athletics.
They’re my clothes company that I built back in ’91. It’s been doing really, really well cornering the market, thanks to my fans, of course. My next step is to go out of the box of just mixed martial arts and kind of going on to making jeans and making fitted shirts and button-up shirts, stuff people would wear out to a night club or a nice dinner and so forth. I think that’s what I want to do.
Excellent. Well, Tito, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
No problem at all, man, I thank you very much. I appreciate it.