He and Ortiz were in the cage at Bellator 123 to announce the fight. Bonnar went off on Ortiz, tossing several disparaging remarks in the former UFC light heavyweight champion’s direction. The announcement devolved into an in-cage scuffle that left most onlookers shaking their heads.
According to Tito Ortiz, it was all according to plan. Not that he intended for Bonnar to step in the cage and blast him on a personal level, dragging Ortiz’s family and fans into his trash talk. Ortiz says he did, however, plan to sucker Bonnar into fighting him under the Bellator banner, not in the UFC, as he believes was the original plan.
“Well, it really came down to a plan, an idea that I thought would work, worked perfectly,” Ortiz said on a recent edition of Knockout Radio when asked how the fight came together.
“When I first signed with Bellator, I guess Dana (White) and Bonnar kind of had an idea that if they called me out, I would come back to the UFC and fight. And this was a year ago that this happened. And I wasn’t going to let that happen.
“I wanted to fight in Bellator, so I signed with Bellator and I thought in my mind, ‘How can I get Bonnar to Bellator to finally shut him up and smash him after the things he said?’” he continued.
“And sneakily on my side, I got (fighter manager) Dave Thomas to sign him. Dave Thomas signed him and we had to think of something to make him believe that Dave Thomas doesn’t like me, that Paul Herrera didn’t like me. Paul Herrera was going to coach him. And Stephan Bonnar bit the line, hook and sinker. He thought in his own mind that all of his guys were against me and I fooled him.”
Ortiz’s relationship with Herrera goes back a long, long way. Herrera was Ortiz’s high school wrestling coach, and he’s trained with Herrera off and on for years. Ortiz indicates that sending Herrera in to work with Bonnar was his plan all along, that it really had nothing to do with him not wanting to work with Herrera, and that it had everything to do with having an insider in Bonnar’s camp.
“And now it’s a week out from the fight. I know how his training camp went. I know the ins and outs. So he just got baited,” Ortiz said. “That’s how bad I want to cave his face in.
“I’m the king of trash talk, but at the end of the day, the person who laughs last, laughs loudest and hardest. And that’s me.”
Knockout Radio host Randy Harris asked Ortiz outright, “So this was all a setup up by you and not him?”
“Come on, how long have I been in this business? Can’t mess with me!” Ortiz declared. “This guy, when he talked trash, with him and Dana talking trash, I was like, ‘How do I get in the cage and fight him and not in the UFC?’ And I just sat back and let the strings be pulled.
“I know everything from the wrestling side of it. I know what he can and can’t do through Paul Herrera, who his training partner is. I know how much he’s been working on his takedown defense, what type of striking he’s been doing.”
Why would Ortiz do such a thing? Because Bonnar got under his skin, plain and simple.
“I don’t like this guy. He’s been talking about my family. He’s been talking about my fans,” Ortiz said. “And for him to talk about them the way he has, I had to come up for a way to get him back and this is the way to do it, and on Nov. 15 I’ll shove my elbow through his face and it’s going to be exciting.”