by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
LOS ANGELES – At a press luncheon on Tuesday, Affliction vice president Tom Atencio told MMAWeekly.com that negotiations are now underway with former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. Affliction COO Michael Cohen confirmed that Ortiz is free to negotiate with the upstart company, and was working on a deal with Ortiz’s lawyers.
In an interview with SI.com last week, Ortiz confirmed he was working on a “groundbreaking record contract” with a company assumed to be Affliction. However, the outspoken fighter was a no-show at the press conference for “Day of Reckoning” in Las Vegas. Ortiz still appears to be persona non grata in UFC president Dana White’s book, but on more than one occasion, that has not come between Ortiz and a UFC contract.
As of yet, few details on the negotiation exist, but Atencio initially said the dollar signs associated with the record-breaking contract are the major sticking point.
“We’ve got a contract, and it’s just not feasible,” Atencio said.
Both Atencio and Cohen have fielded interest from a large number of free agents looking to sign with the new promotion. Affliction received a great deal of attention, much of it negative, for the 3-4 million dollars it paid to fighters in its first show, “Banned,” on July 19. Afterwards, Atencio told MMAWeekly.com one of his future concerns was to make sure fighters didn’t look at Affliction as a “cash cow.” And while there’s no doubt Ortiz can sell tickets for Affliction, it would come at a steep premium.
“It gets back to whatever I do in business, it’s always about dollars and sense,” Atencio continued. “With some fighters it’s not, with some fighters it is. There’s just so many variables.”
Still, Atencio stopped short of criticizing the outspoken fighter for his demands. There are simply more variables for Ortiz, who also said he wanted to get involved in the promotion side of his next home.
“I think that if you go into an organization, whether it’s fighting or promotion, if you feel you’re worth something, and you don’t go after it, you’re never going to know what you’re worth. I go through 90 percent of my contracts with fighters. Everybody’s different.”
Atencio gave no timetable for the potential signing, but Cohen said he did not expect a deal to be reached in time for Affliction’s “Day Of Reckoning” at the Thomas and Mack Center on Oct. 11 in Las Vegas.