UFC Hall of Famer and former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz is a fan of current light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones, but took offense to recent comments Jones made about him in an interview.
“The situation happened with UFC 151. He was supposed to fight Dan Henderson. He gets hurt a week before the fight. (The UFC) said you’re going to fight Chael (Sonnen). He said, no way, and he got a bunch of flack for it. All the fighters said he wasn’t a true fighter and no one has ever done this before. It’s crazy. I thought it was crazy and I stood up for the kid,” said Ortiz.
“I like Jon Jones. I think he’s a great champion. I think he’s a great guy. I’ve hung out with him in Vegas, and I really took a liking to the kid. All of a sudden, I heard an interview from him saying people need to stop comparing me to Tito Ortiz because I don’t talk about money. That was like a stab in my back. I was like, I stood up for you. When no one else did, I stood up for you and you turn around and say something like that,” Ortiz stated.
While Ortiz was originally supportive of Jones’ decision to decline a short-notice fight with Sonnen, his opinion has changed slightly.
“Dana said it best himself. He’s never had this happen from a fighter before where he pulled out of a fight. I never did in my career. I fought guys no matter what. It was about what I was worth, not talking about money because I didn’t have a manager. I was the guy taking the flack for it,” said the former champion.
The angered Ortiz believes instead of criticizing him, Jones should be praising him for laying the foundation for fighters to apply leverage at the negotiating table with the UFC brass.
“You’ve got to understand. When you’re traveling around in your Bentley – I don’t know if he still has it anymore since he wrecked it into a tree – but when you’re traveling around in your Bentley, you’ve got to understand. I’m a person who put their life on the line and my career and my image and my name on the line to battle for you to have the type of contract you have and the money you’re making,” said the UFC Hall of Famer. “If it weren’t for the things I’ve battle for, and took the bad image for it, you’d be traveling around in a Toyota right now.
“I took a lot of flack for negotiating and battling for what I believed in,” continued Ortiz. “It wasn’t a factor of talking about money. It was a factor of what I thought I was worth. I was trying to raise the bar for all fighters, and I think I’ve done that. For him to say the things he’s saying, don’t disrespect me like that.”
At the end of the day, Ortiz is still a fan of Jon Jones, but didn’t take kindly to the comments Jones has made.
“I was just disappointed, very, very disappointed with Jon. Maybe the stardom is getting to his head. Like I said, I took a liking to Jon Jones, but I was just really disappointed with that interview. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
For more, listen to MMAWeekly.com’s exclusive extended audio interview with Tito Ortiz.