by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Tito Ortiz has been under scrutiny his entire career. From his hold out to fighting Chuck Liddell to his boxing match with Dana White that never happened, he is always a controversial figure in the sport of mixed martial arts. Being controversial is what got the ‘Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ to be one of the biggest stars in UFC history.
After losing to Chuck Liddell for the second time, at UFC 66 in December, Ortiz was trying to figure out what he needs to do to turn the tide. Another title shot for Tito seemed unlikely until May 26th when Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson knocked out Liddell. With Jackson being the new titleholder, Ortiz can breathe a little easier and could quite possibly become a top contender with a few notable victories.
He’ll have to get past the undefeated ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans at UFC 73: Stacked on July 7th to begin his road back. This is not an easy fight for anyone. Tito was on MMAWeekly Radio to discuss his upcoming bout, among other things. “I’ll be 100% ready. I run every day. I lift every day. I wrestle every day. I box every day. I spar every day. I’m not looking for a boring fight. I’m looking to entertain,” said Ortiz. “I got to get back to the basics. Wrestling’s what got me here today. I got some great wrestlers up here with me.”
With Rashad’s last few victories coming by way of knockout, Tito hopes that Rashad is looking to stand with him. “I hope he does want to do boxing. I see a lot of holes in his boxing game. Hopefully Rashad’s in great shape, cause that would make an interesting fight.”
Regardless of the threats that Rashad brings to a fight, Tito remains confident that he will prevail. “Rashad’s fast. He has good hands and he’s a good wrestler. After I beat him, I’m going to show everyone I’m still here,” replied Ortiz.
Ortiz has just purchased Oscar De La Hoya’s property in California to help facilitate his training. “Everything’s going really, really smooth. I bought Oscar De La Hoya’s land. Everything is in my own land now. I have two houses and a gym.”
With everything that has transpired between Tito Ortiz and UFC President Dana White, many people wonder if Tito’s stock with the company has taken a hit. Tito vs. Rashad will not be the main event at UFC 73. “I think I’m going to be the co-main event. I think that they are trying to down market me. That’s fine with me because I have great fans,” Ortiz retorted. “I’m an intelligent fighter, and I think that they try to act like I’m not. I’m looking out for the fighters. It seems like I’m always holding the bad stick though.”
Dana White and Tito Ortiz rekindled their feud after the boxing match fell through. Ortiz and White’s relationship has been taken back down to a business level once again. “I think he really thinks I’m an entrepreneur and he doesn’t want that in his company. It’s strictly business. I look at the big picture. He’s always trying to get under my skin.”
As far as fighter’s salaries are concerned, Ortiz believes that it will take a unification of the fighters to demand more money in order to raise pay levels. “I think it’s going to have to be a lockout. The fighters will have to hold out for more money. They’re monopolizing everything.”
After Liddell lost to Jackson at UFC 71, many people were wondering why Ortiz reportedly bet $3,000 on Liddell, considering that he and ‘Rampage’ are good friends. “I’m a gambler, I took a chance,” Ortiz said. “I should have bet on ‘Rampage’. It was a bet. It was nothing personal.”
A bigger question on many fans’ minds is ‘would Tito actually fight Jackson?’ “I really got to look at it,” Tito responded. “Me and ‘Rampage’ would have to talk about it. I wouldn’t want to take food out of his family’s mouth.”
Ortiz does believe that ‘Rampage’ has all the tools to be a great champion. “There isn’t any exposure like Unites States exposure. I think ‘Rampage’ is going to be a great champion. He’s colorful and charismatic. He deserves everything.”
Ortiz thinks that Liddell doesn’t have the tools that ‘Rampage’ has personality-wise to be a good spokesperson for the UFC. There were interviews of Tito calling Chuck Liddell “Dana White’s puppet.” Ortiz said that he doesn’t believe Liddell is marketable at all. “I saw him on Letterman the other day and I couldn’t believe how much he was stuttering. I was like ‘are you nervous or something?'”
With Tito having a new fire under him, many people wonder if Team Punishment will ever get back to its roots and building a great fighting team. “I think that’s going to be a possibility for sure. I’m going to start doing that. I was thinking about doing a reality show. Find the best in each class and make them a part of Team Punishment.”
Along with Team Punishment is Ortiz’s clothing line, Punishment Athletics. Tito is going to try to push the company and has big plans for the future. “You’ll see it everywhere. Not just the UFC, everywhere. I’m trying to make it a big company and grow it. The one thing that is good is that I own it 100% myself. Everything can be bought on www.punishmentathletics.com.”
The future of the Huntington Beach Bad Boy seems like a roller coaster ride that the fans don’t want to miss. The question will be: ‘Will Tito stay in the UFC after his contract is up?’ “I really don’t know. It seems like the UFC isn’t promoting me anymore. They aren’t pushing me anymore. I really got to sit back and think what is the best opportunity for me. I have four years left of competing.”
As far as potential opponents go, Ortiz has a specific one in mind. “I would love to fight Shogun. That would be awesome. I want to fight the best. I don’t want to take any easy fights.”
Tito Ortiz’s life has been incredibly interesting to say the least. From his early days in the UFC to where he is presently, he manages to stay in the spotlight one way or the other. He even has plans to tell everyone all about it. “I just finished a contract to release my autobiography. It will be out in March of next year.” That book is sure to be a hot seller among all mixed martial arts fans.
But in the mean time, Ortiz will be looking to write another chapter for that book when he fights Rashad Evans on July 7, hopefully working his way back into contention.