by Christopher Murray
On Wednesday night, September 28, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Tito Ortiz joined hosts Brian Fritz, Dickerman, and Vito DeNucci on Between The Ropes on Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team to discuss his participation with the TNA Wrestling and his in future in MMA, namely with UFC. The interview was taped on Tuesday evening prior to the debut TNA Impact taping at Universal Orlando.
Tito started by discussing his role as guest referee again for TNA Wrestling. For now, it’s a short-term role, but could expand into a bigger role as the company grows.
Ortiz talked about being a fan of pro wrestling dating back to before high school. He joked how he walked into the gym for high school wrestling and wanted to know where the ring was. Among the guys he watched back when he was nine or ten years old were The Junkyard Dog, Ted Dibiase, Hulk Hogan, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. He feels he’s learned some of the showmanship aspects of pro wrestling that’s helped him garner a reaction in the octagon.
When asked about his time away from UFC, Tito responded, “Yeah, I miss it a little bit. But I’ve got to stand my ground. What UFC has done to me since I haven’t been fighting for them is some childish stuff. At the same time, I’ve been with the company before Zuffa took over on it. Now, I’m going to make a new company happen, with fighting of course, maybe fighting in Pride, that’s a possibility. Maybe fighting in K-1. Or maybe seeing Tito Ortiz make his own event in California and in Las Vegas. There’s a couple of companies I can possibly be working with, the Klitschko brothers or Don King. There’s so many different avenues or opportunities for Tito Ortiz to be fighting again.”
Tito said there’s no new deal with UFC and there have not been any negotiations lately.
“The last thing I have from UFC was I wasn’t allowed to do Ivan Salaverry’s corner. I wasn’t allowed to sponsor Ivan Salaverry for his fight. I’ve never heard any word from them since. I think it’s just bad blood between Dana [White] and myself. Dana just doesn’t like me. He’s completely changed. Now all of a sudden, he’s pulling the credentials for all of the MMA sites for the next event. That’s bullsh*t, man. These guys were there from the very beginning no matter what for those guys. They don’t understand that. It seems like UFC is getting bigger than everybody else and they’re forgetting about the little people that got them there.”
When asked if the current stalemate between he and UFC is strictly about money, Tito stated, “I think so. There’s not any other fighters like myself, Tito Ortiz. What I put in the ring and the octagon and the interviews I do, there’s no one like me. I may seem conceited, but it’s just a lot of hard work I put in to make the character, Tito Ortiz, ‘The Huntington Beach Boy.’ I back up my talk when I walk. I make sure I make it exciting when I do fight. People buy the tickets. People buy the pay-per-views. I outsell everybody every time I do fight all the way up to The Ultimate Fighter. The Ultimate Fighter helped out to make them where they are now. They’re making $3.7 million at the gate and they’re having a problem paying me an extra $100,000 for a fight? You show me the problem. I’m not really a great mathematician, but I’m no stupid person. I know they’re making a lot more money on pay-per-view. Pay the fighters what they’re worth. All of these younger guys like [Diego] Sanchez and the guys from The Ultimate Fighter, they’re getting paid $2,500. Training costs $5,000 to $10,000 per training session before a fight. These guys get paid pennies. All these fighters care about is to be on TV and they’re forgetting about what it takes to be a fighter. Now it seems like there’s a bunch of paper champions. I’m not taking anything away from Randy Couture or [Andrei] Arlovski or Chuck Liddell. Those guys were there when it first started of course. Those guys are tough as hell. But some of the lighter weights and some of the younger kids, it just seems like they’re getting thrown to the dogs right off the bat and getting fed fights like fighters never did before in UFC.”
Regarding the possibility of going over to Japan to work for Pride, Tito commented, “There’s no problem at all with them. I got a contract from them. It was a negotiating deal and right now we’re in negotiations. If it does happen, Tito Ortiz will be fighting in Pride. But I want to fight in the United States. Right now, you’ll be seeing me in TNA Wrestling.”
Asked about possibly getting in the ring for TNA Wrestling, Ortiz uttered a two word response, “Stay tuned.”
To listen to the Tito Ortiz interview and the entire September 28 edition of Between The Ropes in streaming audio, visit the show online at http://www.BetweenTheRopes.com. With the MLB playoffs dominating the programming schedule on Sports Radio 740 The Team in the month of October, Between The Ropes will experience several pre-emptions. Visit BetweenTheRopes.com regularly for scheduling information for Between The Ropes radio broadcasts in the month of October. Between The Ropes will return to its normal timeslot on Wednesday night, November 2 at 10:00pm ET on Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team and worldwide on BetweenTheRopes.com.