by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Hell fell just short of officially frozen over on Friday.
“The t-shirt guys,” Affliction, shuttered their promotional doors on Friday, cutting a deal to once again become an official sponsor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and UFC president Dana White all but said that Tito Ortiz has rejoined the ranks of the UFC fighter roster.
White first teased of Ortiz’s return in a post on his official Twitter account on Friday afternoon, promoting his spot on ESPN 1100 radio as part of a charity radio-thon, and adding as an afterthought, “Oh yea and welcome back Tito (followed by a smiley face).”
He then took to the ESPN 1100 airwaves, falling short of confirming that Tito Ortiz is officially back in the UFC fold.
“Tito and I have been talking and we have been trying to see if we could figure things out,” said White. “I’ve said many times that Tito and I have some issues and we both need to grow up.”
But asked by fellow radio guest Yahoo! Sports writer Kevin Iole if that meant that Ortiz was already back in the fold and would be on one of the upcoming Fall fight cards, the UFC president answered, “It’s a possibility,” with a sly tone to his voice.
He then mentioned Ortiz’s back surgery and said it would be good to see if Ortiz could return to form with his recent claims of good health.
The fence mending between White and Ortiz started about a week ago. “I wanted to be a man and squash things between me and him… he did the same to me. Dana showed the type of person he is by apologizing to me and vice versa,” Ortiz relayed on a recent edition of Tapout Radio.
He then said he was still in negotiations with Strikeforce, but also noted that Affliction or even a return to the UFC were not “out of the picture.”
White confirmed Ortiz’ comments the next day, posting on his official Twitter account, “Yes, Tito and I made up.” Although, at that time, he fell short of saying that his arms were open to an Ortiz return to the Octagon. “Doesn’t mean he’s back. It means we aren’t smashing each other anymore and we don’t hate each other.”
Well… now, not only are they not smashing each other, it sounds as if they are about to begin working together again.
It has been 14 months to the day that Ortiz last stepped foot in the Octagon – or any other promotion – losing a unanimous decision to now UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 84.
Since that time, he has undergone a successful back surgery that he says has put him back at 100-percent percent healthy.
“It’s gonna be great to compete again and be 100-percent,” he said following a Strikeforce event in April.
White’s presence on ESPN 1100 was part of a fundraiser for The Caring Place, an organization that provides programs and support services for people touched by cancer.