by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
It’s been nearly five months since Tito Ortiz last set foot in the UFC’s Octagon. It’s been nearly two months since he told Sports Illustrated that he was on the verge of a “ground-breaking” contract signing with Affliction Entertainment.
On Saturday night’s EliteXC telecast on CBS, the former UFC light heavyweight champion said that he is now “maybe a week away from signing the deal” with EliteXC.
“I’ve been a free agent now for almost five months,” he told CBS reporter Karen Bryant. “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.”
Ortiz cited Affliction fighter Andre Arlovski as an example of why he would want to sign with EliteXC. “Andrei Arlovski is starting to compete in this now, so the names are starting to come over.”
By most accounts, Arlovski’s bout against Roy Nelson on Saturday night – which the former UFC heavyweight champion won by knockout – was likely nothing more than a marketing maneuver by Affliction Entertainment. Affliction loaned out the fighters to EliteXC and holds both Arlovski and Nelson under contract.
If Oritz does follow through and sign with EliteXC, the promotion is already positioning for a possible showdown against a past nemesis in Frank Shamrock. One of the more decorated champions in UFC history, Shamrock defeated Ortiz in a classic bout in September of 1999.
Bringing up Shamrock, Bryant quipped to Ortiz, “Frank said you would be something good to do with your fists.”
To which Ortiz retorted, “Yes, that would be good. The last time me and Frank got it on, I was a young kid, 22 years old. I’ve got 11 years experience now, so I think it’d be a different story in the rematch.”
But that may be putting the cart before the horse as EliteXC’s parent company, ProElite, Inc., in it’s short history has been hemorrhaging money to the tune of more that $55 million.
Forever in a perpetual make-or-break mode, the promotion suffered duel setbacks on Saturday night when Ken Shamrock was forced out of the main event bout with Kimbo Slice less than 24 hours before show time. Then, the company’s primary promotional tool was derailed when Kimbo lost to last minute replacement Seth Petruzelli.
It’s to soon to declare the future for EliteXC, but the financial effects of Saturday’s event will likely go a long way towards determining if the promotion will be able to seal the deal with Ortiz… or if there even will be a promotion left to seal the deal.
ProElite CEO Chuck Champion remains hopeful though, as he told MMAWeekly.com’s Tom Hamlin recently that in 2009, “A re-shaped, re-formed EliteXC will emerge, and I believe its prospects are good.”