MMANews.com's own Chris Howie recently caught up with former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz to discuss a number of topics. The interview was conducted on Tuesday, July 17, 2007. Part two of the transcript is below.
TITO ORTIZ INTERVIEW – PART TWO
To read part one, click here.
MMANews.com: So you are still having problems with Dana [White]?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, it’s just one of those things you know? Dana just wants to be a superstar. In his mind he thinks he is and it's really fun to see Dana's true colors. He kisses my ass in my face and then behind my back he just talks smack, saying how stupid I am and how dumb of a person I am. Cool, that's fine. It just shows how jealous he really is of me.
MMANews.com: What are your opinions on the problems they seem to be having setting up the Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva fight?
Tito Ortiz: I would imagine it all comes down to negotiations. Wanderlei's people are probably asking for a certain amount of money and Dana is not wanting to give it to him, so that is why the fight is not happening. Then Dana comes back and says that Wanderlei doesn't want the fight which makes me think that the UFC is trying to take advantage of Wanderlei. Dana's way of taking advantage of fighters is mostly not giving them what they want. Dana not giving Wanderlei what he wants is probably the reason behind it.
MMANews.com: Do you feel that fighters are under paid?
Tito Ortiz: Oh I definitely think fighters are under paid. The highest paid guys are only making a 1 million to 1.5 million dollars a fight and I think that is way underpaid.
MMANews.com: That is with PPV sales and such added in correct?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah. We only get a small piece of the PPV sales though. Nothing compared to what it could be. The fighters that are promoted well and that promote themselves well and that have big names are those that make the biggest market money. The guys making like $2000 a fight, thats ridiculous. I really feel bad for those guys. What it comes down to is that the UFC needs to start cutting the fighters into the pie instead of giving them the crumbs.
MMANews.com: With the UFC bringing in former Pride fighters such as [Mirko] CroCop and [Heath] Herring, etc. Do you feel that they should be getting the big pay days or should the guys that have been loyal to the UFC start getting bigger checks considering the Pride guys arn't overly well known in the U.S. market?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, I think the guys that should be getting the most money are the guys that everybody know. Wanderlei and CroCop are well known in Japan but are not really well known in America and maybe they should have to show off their abilities before they really start getting the big money.
MMANews.com: With that being said do you think that may be the reason they are putting the Quinton Jackson and Dan Henderson fight at UFC 75 free on Spike TV?
Tito Ortiz: No, I think that is basically because they have to fulfil their contract with Spike. It's all about ratings with that. UFC brings Spike huge ratings so that's pretty much why. Sponsorship dollars also have a lot to do with it.
MMANews.com: So it is more of a buisness move…
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, it's more buisness than doing it for the fans or for the fighters. The UFC wants to solidify their company through Spike TV. The big thing right now is the sponsorship money. The big sponsors are starting to come out. You seen Burger King sponsor the UFC and that was huge for them to get that.
MMANews.com: How are things going with Punishment Athletics? The last time we talked you had a few different plans coming up, what's everything looking like now?
Tito Ortiz: Punishment is doing really, really well man. We're really starting to get into a lot more stores. A lot of MMA stores have opened up around Southern California and we're getting into those. Of course it's in all the No Fear stores in Arizona, California, and mostly around the Midwest a lot of our products are showing up in them. It's just been building man. It comes down to great designs and trying to build and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
MMANews.com: What fighters are you sponsoring? I would assume at least everyone at Team Punishment, but who else?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, everyone at Team Punishment and then we have Karo Parisyan, Chris Lytle, Jake O'Brien. Of course there are two different entities there, Team Punishment the fighting team and then Punishment Athletics which is the clothing company. We just signed a big contract with Kendall Grove. I'm really, really happy to sponsor fighters and help put money in their pocket.
“UFC needs to start cutting the fighters into the pie instead of giving them the crumbs.”
MMANews.com: Kendall's next fight is coming up in September correct?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, it's coming up around the start of September and he's going to be fighting Patick Cote.
MMANews.com: How do you see that fight going? You have some experience being in there with Cote.
Tito Ortiz: I really think that Kendall will submit him or knock him out. He's just been on a rampage lately and he's been doing really, really well. He's looked good in training and I think he'll be a champion in due time.
MMANews.com: Will you be training with Rampage for his fight with Dan Henderson?
Tito Ortiz: Ummm, I'm not 100 percent sure on that now. If he calls me then yeah I'll help him train, I don't mind doing that but he is the champion now so there is a chance of us fighting each other. If he does call me about training though I'd do it at the drop of a hat.
MMANews.com: How do you feel he matches up with Dan Henderson?
Tito Ortiz: I think it's a great match-up for Rampage but a great match-up for Henderson too because Rampage's weakness is his clinch and his clinch position and that's one of Dan Henderson's best positions. Rampage is a lot bigger guy than Henderson is and he punches a lot harder so I think it will be an exciting fight.
MMANews.com: Back to contract talk a little bit, are there any other promotions out there that have caught your eye?
Tito Ortiz: None that I have really considering signing with but I haven't been negotiating with any either. I thought the EliteXC show was done fairly well. If I'm going to fight for a company I want to make sure their production is A-plus. UFC shows are so nice and so colorful and look so perfect. They've mastered it. If I did go to another company I'd want it to be exactly the same. My instinct is to stay with the UFC, my loyalty lies with them.
MMANews.com: What was your opinion of the EXC/Strikeforce card with [Frank] Shamrock and [Phil] Baroni as the main event?
Tito Ortiz: Shamrock and Baroni saved the night. The production was horrible. I'm not trying to talk smack to anyone but the production was horrible. I seen a lot of camera angles they just didn't get. I've had shows myself and I know it can be hard to get that stuff but the production there just wasn't that great. The fights is what saved the show. It shows that Shamrock and Baroni were good draws. Baroni showed a lot of heart and Shamrock showed that he was still a force to be reckoned with.
MMANews.com: You mentioned earlier that you would rather work with Lorenzo Ferttita as opposed to Dana White getting your deal done. How do things differ with him compared to White?
Tito Ortiz: With Lorenzo man, he's just a straight up guy. He's not the type of person to blow steam up your butt and he talks straight forward. Dana will just talk circles around you. He'll promise you the world but he won't give it to you until you sign for it. It's kinda like the president man, the President of the United States, when it comes time to resign it all just ends up being broken promises. I look forward to dealing with Lorenzo on this. He's an awesome guy and he has always taken care of me so I look forward to negoitations with him.
MMANews.com: Now Dana White always talks about how MMA is going above and beyond boxing and MMA won't do what boxing did to ruin the sport. Do you think that if that is the case than the pay days will rival boxing pay days?
Tito Ortiz: That will happen when more fighters stand up for themselves. It may not happen anytime soon but as soon as some of the other big name fighters realize what I'm talking about and see the big picture then I think it will happen. Until then we'll just be waiting.
MMANews.com: I spoke with a few fighters before your fight with Rashad and one problem they seemed to think you had was that you were, ya know, a rich guy. With Punishment Athletics and your pay days does it ever go to your head and does the money cause you to lose your hunger any?
Tito Ortiz: No, not at all. When it's fight time man it's me fighting for my fans. That's the biggest thing for me. Making them proud to be Tito Ortiz fans. All the money I make isn't going to stop me from training and working hard six days a week, getting in the gym and sparring and wrestling and doing everything I normally do for a fight. People may say, “Tito doesn't have the same edge”, but I've been fighting for ten years man.
MMANews.com: Now with your training, not to knock anyone at Team Punishment when I say this but you would probably have to be considered the best fighter there. Do you ever consider bringing in other fighters to advance and further your game?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, we are going to start looking for new Team Punishment guys sometime this year. We'll have a solid team. I have some stuff in the works for the future.
MMANews.com: Do you consider training with other teams outside of your own?
Tito Ortiz: I'd like to do that but a lot of other teams are cut-throat man. They might talk some smack behind your back but bring you in as a sparring partner and that's it. I really rely a lot on loyalty and I don't want to do something and then turn around and get stabbed in the back so I try to walk lightly around that kind of stuff.
MMANews.com: Assuming that you defeat Rashad in the rematch and you resign with the UFC, how long before you see yourself back in the title hunt?
Tito Ortiz: You know after I beat Rashad who I feel is the number one contender in the UFC or maybe number two, I think it would be one more fight after that so I'm thinking like [Mauricio] Shogun or Wanderlei or even Chuck and then I'll be getting a world title shot.
MMANews.com: How do you feel you rank in the UFC in the light heavyweight division with some of the new fighters they have brought or seem to be bringing in like Shogun and Wanderlei?
Tito Ortiz: I still see myself as number one or number two right there with Liddell man. These new guys still have to fight in the UFC. It's like Rampage, Liddell, than me I think in my eyes. You have to fight in the UFC to be at the level of fighters in the UFC. You watch the last fight between Minotauro [Nogueira] and Heath Herring and he almost was knock out by Herring. That could happen to anybody. It's just whoever has the right fighting style that night is going to win the matches. To me rankings don't really matter the main thing is winning fights.
MMANews.com: Does it excite you that they have been bringing in some of the big guns out of Pride?
Tito Ortiz: For sure I'm excited. It brings in a new challenge. It's all one big company now. It kind of sucks money wise because it's like a monopoly and if you don't fight there you might not fight anywhere else. I guess we'll just have to see what happens in the future.
MMANews.com: What kind of plans do you have coming up for Punishment, such as autographs signings that you may want to let your fans know about?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah actually I have an event coming up this week in Reno, NV, then August 15th I'm going to be in Winnepeg, Manitoba, then September 2nd I'll be in Chicago and September 28th I'm in Washington. At the end of this month I'm going to Iraq for the USO and it'll be really nice to meet the troops and give back.
MMANews.com: So you are looking to have the rematch with Rashad around October or November. How do you see the rematch going since you were in there and had a chance to feel him out and such?
Tito Ortiz: In the rematch I'm going to have to either knock him out or submit him because I don't see the judges giving me the decision. I'm going to have to make sure I finish it. I think I'll dominate just like the first time.
MMANews.com: Do you feel like you were screwed over by the judges or do you feel like you may have lost the third round and it was the point deduction in the second that took it from you?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, I watched the fight yesterday and I can go along and say it was a pretty even fight. I want to see where I actually grabbed the fence though. They showed where I grabbed the fence the first time but they didn't show where I grabbed the fence when they took the point away and if you watch the replay they show where I get taken down then defend and get back to my fight. They said it was similiar to when it happened but they never showed it. I want to see where I grabbed the fence or if I even really grabbed the fence in the fight to even get the point taken away.
MMANews.com: There was the time you grabbed the fence and got the warning then you grabbed the fence and got the point taken away. I'm even pretty sure there were a few other times where you may have grabbed the fence before the warning early in the second and even in the first round.
Tito Ortiz: No I didn't grab the fence in the first at all. I got the warning then the point taken away almost at the exact same time. In the first round I was dominating and I was on top the whole time so there was no reason to grab the fence. I was the one doing the takedowns. When I grabbed the fence McCarthy said, “Let go of the fence”, which was just a reaction on my part and then the second time he tried to take me down and I kind of skimmed my hand on the fence and McCarthy said I grabbed the fence again which there is a rule saying you can place your hand on the fence but you can't grab the fence to help your position. I just kind of skimmed my hand across the fence when I was sliding down the cage. He got a takedown for that anyway right so it was a point for him.
MMANews.com: Did he impress you with his wrestling and takedowns?
Tito Ortiz: Umm no, he didn't impress me at all. He was fast like I expected. I defended a lot of shots and any of the shots he did take me down with he was getting choked then he got swept and mounted. The last takedown my legs just weren't there. My back was giving out and he picked me up and dumped me. He said he felt me give up but he didn't even hit me with any hard punches and he says he won the fight based on one takedown at the end of the third round? Give me a break. You don't win a 15 minute fight in the last ten seconds with a takedown.
MMANews.com: I see what you're saying.
Tito Ortiz: Yeah man, I had a takedown at the first of the third round so…
MMANews.com: Do you feel he came out more agressive in the third?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, but I feel it has a lot to do with my back giving out in the second. With a buldging disc I just wanted to stretch my legs man but I really couldn't because I was in the middle of a fight. What am I suppose to do call time-out so I can stretch my back a little? You have to fight through it.
MMANews.com: Does this go back to the back problems you had in the past?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah, I first had back problems when I fought Randy Couture. It's been reocurring throughout the years.
MMANews.com: Is it something you have considered having surgery on?
Tito Ortiz: Honestly man I'm just really scared to get surgery because there is a chance of getting paralyzed and I don't want to mess around with that. So I'll just let the doctors figure it out so I don't have to take any chances.
MMANews.com: After the fight with Rashad who would you like to fight next?
Tito Ortiz: Anyone in the top five or six. Definitely Shogun, Minotauro's brother is still ranked highly so I'd like to fight him, Ricardo Arona. I'd love to fight any of the guys from Pride.
MMANews.com: Do you think they'll bring in Lil Nog or Arona?
Tito Ortiz: I'm not too sure I guess it'll be who will fight for the cheapest amount of money will come to the UFC.
MMANews.com: Do you feel that with the influx of fighters they will change their PPV formats and such considering it could come down to having a card that is stacked from top to bottom with names?
Tito Ortiz: I think it would be better if they just had two big name fighters on the top and then some lower names on the bottom and try to build them up. UFC is shown every month, a couple times a month so hopefully people don't start getting sick of it. I'm not overly sure on that side of it to be honest.
MMANews.com: Ok, Tito is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Tito Ortiz: Yeah of course. It sucks about the draw but the next time will not be a draw and I'll do what I do best and finish off my opponent. Let the punishment begin and thanks for the support.
MMANews.com: Ok Tito. Well it was nice speaking with you again and if I don't happen to talk to you before your next fight I'll wish you luck now.
Tito Ortiz: Thank you Chris. I appreciate it man.
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