by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
With only one fight left on his current contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz is stepping back into the Octagon, quite possibly for the last time, to face rising 205-pound contender Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 in Las Vegas.
While Ortiz has been very vocal about his displeasure with the match-up and his overall dealings with the UFC, president Dana White says that his focus needs to be on his opponent for the May 24 bout.
“It’s a tough fight for Tito. Tito really hasn’t had a significant fight or a significant win in the last couple years,” said White in an interview with MMAWeekly.com. “This is his first real big fight in a long time. Tito’s out there saying, ‘this fight isn’t with me and Lyoto, it’s with me and Dana.’ No idiot, it’s with Lyoto Machida. You’re not fighting me. You better be training, you better be doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”
Ortiz has publicly stated that he has no intentions of returning to the UFC after fulfilling his contract with the Machida fight.
“He said he’ll never come back to the UFC as long as I’m running it,” White stated. “Tito’s always going to say stupid (expletive). Every time that guy opens his mouth, dumb (expletive) rolls out, he can’t help himself.
“And he’s a liar. I don’t know if you guys heard his Howard Stern interview where he says all he makes is $250,000. Tito Ortiz has made millions of dollars. Remember, when he was in that thing crying, ‘I crashed my car into a tree, my life was over.’ We brought him back into the UFC, we made him a coach of The Ultimate Fighter, and since then Tito Ortiz has made millions and millions of dollars.”
Despite Ortiz’s declarations that he will not return as long as White is running things – the UFC president isn’t going anywhere – but still feels the book isn’t closed on future dealings with the disgruntled fighter.
“I’m not planning on quitting because Tito doesn’t want to fight if I’m here,” said White. “Even with all the issues I’ve had with that moron, he’s still in the UFC, so we’ll see what happens.”
No word from Ortiz if he plans on even negotiating with the UFC once the fight with Machida is over, but his early indications are that he will shop the free agent market.