This past July, UFC legend Tito Ortiz retired from fighting after a 15-year UFC run that included a memorable stint as the promotion’s light heavyweight champion and most marketable fighter. Although being used in a completely different context, I imagine that Dana White thought about Tito’s retirement the same way Lil’ Wayne thought about some random female in Bedrock when he said, “I hate to see her go, but I love to watch her leave.” On one hand, the UFC had to be upset that it lost one of its biggest all-time draws as, for better or worse, Ortiz remained a viable plug-in main eventer when the promotion was in a pinch (see UFC 133). At the same time, Dana and Tito have a long history of trash talking, attempted boxing matches, Ortiz holding out for more money, Ortiz generally getting more money, Dana being pissed, and “Dana White is my Bitch” t-shirts.
As a result, there had to been a part of Dana that was relieved never to have to negotiate with Tito about potential big fights. Personally, I was left afraid that we would forever miss the Tito Ortiz shenanigans that caused Dana such headaches (because I do love giggling to myself about shenanigans giving Dana headaches).
But not so fast my friend! Less than half a year after Tito’s retirement, he has already found a way to get back underneath Dana’s skin. And this time, he’s found a way to do it that surely must piss Dana off more than anything Tito has been able to do in years: by negotiating the UFC out of big fights! Cue the MMA Junkie report:
“A fight between newly crowned UFC women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and ex-Strikeforce champ Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos (10-1) would have headlined UFC 157, he said the moment before, but UFC Hall of Famer turned manager Tito Ortiz told Santos not to take the fight. ‘That’s the fight that should be happening,’ White said. ‘Tito Ortiz is her manager, and he advised against it.’”
The same MMA Junkie report indicates that Tito texted a response that Cyborg did not turn down the fight, and that he did not advise her to do so. Instead, Ortiz clarified, he wouldn’t allow her to take the fight at 135 pounds. So basically, he advised her not to take the fight. Though, in fairness to Ortiz and Cyborg, their position all along has been that she would be unable to healthily get to 135 by February and I do think there is a big difference in turning down a fight against Ronda Rousey for no reason in particular and turning down a fight at a certain weight class without sufficient time to get to said weight. Considering this, I tend to side with Tito here, although acknowledging that they are risking a large pay day if Rousey is not able to defeat Liz Carmouche.
Regardless of this particular case, if this is the way negotiations are going to go between Dana White as president of the UFC and Tito Ortiz as an MMA manager, I will be very happy. We should be in for a lot of closed door negotiations that break down, Dana White talking trash about Tito to the media, and Tito responding with his own trash talk. I just hope Tito wears his famous message shirts underneath a suit to fights to really grind Dana’s gears. I can see it now: “I Out-negotiated Dana’s Ass” or something else very Tito-like.