by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” Tito Ortiz, and former manager turned Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White have had a roller coaster ride of a relationship. Ortiz was the face of the UFC for years before falling out of favor with the promotion after losing back-to-back bouts to Randy “The Natural” Couture and Chuck “Iceman” Liddell and following several contract disputes with the American Mixed Martial Arts organization.
When his contract with the UFC expired following his split decision victory over Vitor Belfort at UFC 51, Ortiz’ future in the UFC looked bleak. White commented that as long as he was the president of the UFC, Ortiz would never be back.
On the UFC’s website, UFC.com, Ortiz’ statistics were removed. The logos of his clothing line, Punishment Athletics, were blurred out on Spike TV airings of Tito’s fights. The logos were featured on the UFC octagon canvas and on Tito’s trunks. The Ortiz-owned company was forbidden to sponsor fighters competing in the Dana White-run company.
A war of words ensued. White questioned Tito’s desire to fight. Ortiz said to MMAWeekly at the time, “Between me and Dana White, there was some personal stuff. Actually, there wasn’t any personal stuff. It was strictly business. But once he got into my business of Punishment Athletics, trying to stop us from doing that, it hindered my company. And now it’s personal. My back can only be pushed so far into a corner, and this is as far as I can go, so now it’s just taking a step forward. And I will no longer fight for the UFC. That’s what Dana says, and that’s pretty much the way I’m treated. It was a complete disrespect because people have got to understand that I was the world champion before Zuffa even owned the company. I was in the UFC when it was at the lowest it possibly could be. When it got kicked off cable, it got kicked off pretty much everything. And I stuck into it, and you know, I used my image and my charisma to take the company as far as it is until now. It seemed like once they got to the mainstream they dropped me like a bad habit. They pretty much just got rid of me. When I started asking for a little bit more money they said, ‘the hell with you, we made you, and we can break you.’ And that’s what Dana’s trying to do right now I guess. I don’t think it’s anybody in the company besides Dana. And to him, it just seems like he’s a mob guy man. He takes feelings really hard. He’s a guy who’s really personal, and he really holds grudges really bad. You know, my back can only be pushed against a corner so far until I start firing back, and now the time has come.”
Ortiz went so far as to say, “Dana is no longer the Dana that I used to know. Now that he’s got the power, and he’s a superstar because he’s been on The Ultimate Fighter, he’s not a president man. He’s a celebrity now, and I think the power has gone to his head.”
Tito’s time came when he was asked to come back to the UFC and coach “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show pitted against his old rival Ken Shamrock. Ortiz also received a three-fight contract. Written into the contract was a three-round exhibition boxing match against none other than Dana White.
Many thought it was a joke at first, but it was indeed real. When the fight was postponed, it fueled the fire of doubt.
Ortiz told MMAWeekly, “We’re still boxing. He ain’t getting off of that one. We were supposed to make it happen right after the [Ken] Shamrock fight, but the athletic commission in Vegas said we were too far away from weight and we had to find a happy weight, or something like that. I told Dana I would cut down to weight. And then they went back to the athletic commission, and they said it was okay. Then, all of a sudden, the Liddell fight came about. Dana was like, ‘Let’s push it off until after the Liddell fight.'”
White previously stated in an interview that he and Ortiz were being filmed and interviewed by documentary filmmakers as they trained for the exhibition boxing match.
When can you expect to see Ortiz and White to go toe-to-toe? According to Tito, “It’s going to happen next year, for sure. A lot of people out there will be waiting to see me beat up on Dana for once. I can’t wait to do it either. I still love Dana a lot. He has helped me out a whole bunch, but that match is still in dire need.”
Closing out the questioning about his exhibition boxing match with Dana White, Tito said, “It’s funny because now Dana is ducking me. He’s finding excuses.”