Friday, December 3, 2021

EXCLUSIVE: Tito Ortiz On Stephan Bonnar, Floyd Mayweather/MMA, Dana White, TNA, PEDs

Tito Ortiz recently spoke with MMANews.com correspondent Michael Moody to discuss his upcoming Bellator 131 bout with Stephan Bonnar, why the fight with Bonnar is the most personal match he’s ever had, the “masked man” incident with Justin McCully, his relationship with Dana White, his thoughts on working with TNA Wrestling again, Floyd Mayweather getting in the MMA business, performance-enhancing drugs and much more.

Below is a full transcript of the interview, which you can also watch in full via the YouTube player embedded above.

On his training camp for his November 15th fight against Stephan Bonnar at Bellator 131: Tito vs. Bonnar:

“Yeah, I’m ready to fight. Actually, I was able to have eight weeks for this camp instead of four compared to when I fought [Alexander] Shlemenko. I got some time to prepare for this fight, I just got to work on my cardio. I’ve been able to work. I’ve put in the road work, I’ve put in my rounds and I feel great. It’s just the mental side of it that makes the most important thing about all fighters, especially for me to be focused and for this fight to be motivated like no other. It just seems like [Stephan] Bonnar keeps adding fuel to the fire with everything that comes out of his mouth, and I can’t wait to shut him up on November 15th.”

On his history with Stephan Bonnar:

“I’ve known Stephan Bonnar, gosh, since back when he did The Ultimate Fighter. I didn’t really know him, I knew of him. I met him just in conversation, like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ No more than that. And I didn’t talk to him at all until right before I signed the Bellator deal and he just started talking smack, saying that I needed money and that it looks like I’m signing a deal just to come back and make money — that my wife took all my money. He started saying some personal stuff about me and I’ve come to realize that this guy needs to be shut up, and I’m glad that Dana [White] let him go and that Bellator did sign him. Scott Coker did an amazing job by making this happen and now he’s getting fed to the wolves. He doesn’t understand what he’s getting into and what he started, because this is a personal deal that I’m here to shut him up. This is a personal fight for me like no other. This is probably more personal than any other fight that I’ve ever had. It goes past anything between me and Ken Shamrock, Chuck Liddell, anything like that. This is really serious. When someone talks about a person’s family [or] talks about their fans, and my whole legacy — everything that I’ve been through in my whole career — I take it very personal and like I said, I’m gonna shut him up.”

On his current relationship with Ken Shamrock:

“There’s no animosity towards me and Ken [Shamrock]. Me and Ken are actually friends now. It went from acquaintance to being friends now. We talked on a few occasions, you know, he’s an awesome guy. He pushed me to the next level when we competed against each other. He just made me that much better of a fighter to train harder. There was a time there where, in my first fight against him, I had a little bit of fear, you know? He was the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” and I wasn’t sure how good I really was. But then my first fight did show how good I really was and then my confidence just built more and more and more. Knowing that a young kid who started this game as an amateur, competing in the UFC for free at my first UFC — UFC 13 — and becoming a world champion within a year and a half. I saw that I could compete against these guys who had been doing it [for] ten, twelve years. But after I competed against Ken, we built up a relationship throughout time. It’s just a respect value I think, and he respects me a lot.”

On the “masked man” incident with Stephan Bonnar and Justin McCully:

“You know when I saw Bonnar bring out the gimp, it was just a way to try and get under my skin. You’re gonna bring an old sparring partner out and say that he used to be my coach — he was never my coach. He was a sparring partner. I hired him as a sparring partner [and] I thought he was a brother, a good friend. And the way I treated him, I expected him to be like a brother, but you know, it showed his true colors. He was a turncoat and loyalty, I guess they come a dime a dozen for him, and I got negative people like that out of my life for a reason. It just shows what type of person he truly is and I’m glad I got the gimp out of my life.”

On if he plans to ever work again with TNA Wrestling:

“Well, you know professional wrestling is what got me into wrestling when I started high school. I walked into the wrestling room in high school and thought, ‘where’s the ring at?’ but there was no ring. I didn’t really associate collegiate wrestling to professional wrestling. When I did pro wrestling with TNA, I liked it. I dug it, you know? I got a chance to meet Hulk Hogan. I hung out and talked to him for a couple of hours and it seemed like he’s a normal person just like me. We just go through a lot of different things, but we have a lot of similar things that correlate. Wrestling was really, really fun. I digged it. Dixie Carter was an amazing person to work with. Everybody on their staff were amazing people to work with. The wrestlers are great guys. There’s a theatrical side to it that I loved of course, but there’s a competitive side to me that loves to fight. If there’s an opportunity for me to do it again, of course I’d do it again. It’s fun and fans got to understand that there’s a difference. There’s a pro fighter and there’s a pro wrestler — we’re two separate worlds and I don’t like to join them together too much, that’s why I haven’t really got in and wrestled. I came in as a referee and then I came in and messed around with [Quinton] “Rampage” [Jackson] and it’s all choreographed of course, but my professional side right now is fighting. It’s my true goal. I want to win a world title here in Bellator.”

On who else he’d like to fight inside the Bellator cage:

“Well, right now it’s just Bonnar. That’s all I do is eat, sleep and train Bonnar. That’s all I wanna do. I want to shut him up and I want to do it in decisive fashion. I’m out for blood, that’s all I care about right now is to shut Stephan Bonnar up and try to hurt him as serious as I possibly can. This ain’t a sport fight to me, this is a fight that’s personal and I’m going out to try and hurt him.”

On who he is working with to prepare for his fight with Stephan Bonnar:

“My camp is doing amazing. I’m out at Punishment Training Center and I go over to Reign [Training Center] with Mark Munoz and work with the guys there. They got a huge room in there — Bryan Schaub, [Patrick] Cummings, of course Mark Munoz, Michael Bisping. A lot of great guys. I’m in there a couple times a week and then I do my other training at Punishment Training Center. A lot of wrestling, a lot of sparring. I just put my body through the grindstone and try to sharpen it up and get ready for November 15th.”

On his goals in Bellator:

“I have three more fights with Bellator and my goal is to become a world champion and then retire as the world champion. That’s my goal. I look to retire by the age of 40 years old and be done and then continue to work in mixed-martial-arts with Bellator on the promotion side of it. I’ve been doing this for so long. I’m coming up on my 18th year competing, so I think the promotion side I can do very well with.”

On if it’s true Dana White let Stephan Bonnar out of his UFC deal to fight him in Bellator:

“I believe there is truth to Dana White letting Bonnar go to fight me. Finally Dana did something to give back to me and I’d like to say, ‘Thank you, Dana. I appreciate it because now I get to beat Stephan Bonnar’s head in and I can’t wait.'”

Interview continued on page two, click below …

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