by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
It appears that Tito Ortiz – former UFC light heavyweight champion and a staple of the promotion for more than a decade – may finally have found a new fight promotion to call home.
With the recent demise of EliteXC, whom Ortiz had all but finalized a deal with before the promotion came crashing to the ground, and a continued falling out with UFC president Dana White, there really aren’t many options left for Ortiz to compete at the high level he is accustomed to.
MMAWeekly.com sources over the weekend indicated that Ortiz revealed that he has agreed to sign with Affliction Entertainment, though no one at the promotion, nor Ortiz would confirm or deny such an agreement when contacted by MMAWeekly.com.
The promotion is preparing for its sophomore effort, “Day of Reckoning,” on Jan. 24 in Anaheim, Calif. That would likely be too soon for Ortiz to make his return, as he underwent surgery for his back on Oct. 6.
Affliction added more credence to the speculation to an agreement on Monday afternoon when it announced that Ortiz would be a special guest at a “Day of Reckoning” press conference on Wednesday. Even if Ortiz is not fighting on Jan. 24, the announcement that he is signing with the promotion would draw wanted media attention and possibly carry over into a boost in ticket sales.
Of course, Ortiz has been down this road before. He went so far as to appear on the Oct. 4 EliteXC event on CBS, so sure he was of signing with the now-failed promotion, before the company was pulled out from under him.
“I’ve been a free agent now for almost five months,” he told CBS reporter Karen Bryant on the CBS broadcast. “I’m going to exercise my right of course, being a free agent. We’re working really close with Elite and I’d say we’re about maybe a week away from signing the deal.”
But now that there is no EliteXC for him to sign with, his attention returned to Affliction, whom he has been actively negotiating with since leaving the Ultimate Fighting Championship after his May bout with Lyoto Machida.
At the time that negotiations between Ortiz and Affliction reached its zenith in August, Affliction vice president Tom Atencio said, “We’ve got a contract (from Ortiz), and it’s just not feasible.”
If recent speculation is accurate, it would appear that with the rapidly changing MMA landscape, one or both parties have reconsidered and come to some sort of agreement.