The sport of mixed martial arts is full of intriguing matchups that never came to fruition, from the cursed Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson bout and a dream clash between Khabib and former champ-champ Georges St-Pierre to… Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz?
For those new to MMA, that probably seems like a joke. Nope, the UFC President was seriously going to box “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” at one point in time.
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, UFC Hall of Famer Bisping counted down five of the craziest UFC stories. Unsurprisingly, White’s near-venture between the ropes took the number two spot.
Describing what led to the bizarre booking, “The Count” recalled White’s deteriorating relationship with Ortiz, who he’d managed prior to purchasing the UFC alongside the Fertitta brothers.
“Dana was supposed to box the former light heavyweight champion of the world, Tito Ortiz. Now, this all started because Dana White used to manage Chick Liddell and Tito Ortiz,” recalled Bisping. “When you’re the owner of the UFC, you can’t then be a manager as well… His relationship with Tito Ortiz went south.
“At one contract negotiation, Tito actually wanted a specific clause put in. That clause was that Dana White had to box him,” added Bisping. “When Dana used to manage him, they used to spar, and by all accounts, Dana used to get the better of him.”
Having been more than open to the idea, White accepted and began his preparations. According to Bisping, the UFC President’s training showed just how serious he was taking it…
Bisping: White Was Sparring Guys A Decade Younger
At the time of the contract, Ortiz was a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion who had defended the belt five times during a three-year reign. With that in mind, and with the Californian far from past his prime, White knew that he had to be serious about the match if it was to end well for him.
So, serious is how he took it.
According to Bisping, White got himself in great shape through workouts wherever he could fit them in, and the presence of a personal trainer and dietician.
“Dana, being a lover of the sweet science, loved this idea, and wanted to do it. The problem was, he was 37 years old, and he was living the life of a UFC president,” said Bisping. “So, he needed some time to get into shape. And that is what he was doing. By the way, I signed with the UFC about this time and let me tell you, Dana was taking this very, very seriously.
“He would work out whenever he could, in hotel rooms, in the offices; as I say, anywhere he could. Sparring the guys that were a decade younger than him, he had a personal trainer everywhere he went,” continued Bisping. “Plus, he also had a dietician who had the authority to take his food off him… He managed to get himself in fantastic shape.”
Bisping went on to describe how when talk of the bout hit mainstream media, the Nevada Athletic Commission found out and correctly stepped in to insist the fight be regulated, including a weigh-in and medicals. White was even required to seek a legitimate boxing license.
While two of the three parties were present when it came time to scrap, the presence of one “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” was missing.
“Come fight time, Dana showed up, went to the weigh-ins. The Nevada Athletic Commission was there. But Tito Ortiz did not show up,” said Bisping. “He said afterwards, ‘Look, listen, in that contract, I wanted to have a sparring session. I did not want to have a fight, a professional bout.'”
In recent years, crossover boxing bouts have become a bit of a sensation in the sport. As well as YouTube star Jake Paul leading the charge with bouts against former MMA champions Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren, Ortiz has even tried his hand at pugilism, sharing the ring with UFC legend Anderson Silva in 2021.
Perhaps after seeing “The Spider” brutally knock Ortiz out last year, White may be tempted to revive talk of a boxing bout against the former light heavyweight titleholder. Or, with Ortiz open to one final UFC outing, perhaps White will be down to don the MMA gloves and be the man to send the veteran into retirement.
How do you think the Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz boxing match would have gone in 2007?