Tito Ortiz Inching Closer to Affliction

Written by Tom Ngo
August 13th, 2008

Affliction Entertainment held their “Day of Reckoning” press luncheon yesterday and stated that they are actively in negotiations with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz. It was rumored at last week’s Affliction press conference that they were set to introduce Ortiz as their newest member, however they were unable to finalize a deal to sign the former champ.

Affliction COO Michael Cohen confirmed yesterday that they are currently working on a deal with Ortiz’s lawyers, however both sides seem to be pretty far apart.

In an interview with SI.com last week that was released before Affliction’s press conference, Ortiz all but confirmed that his signing with Affliction was a done deal, and that the deal was going to be a “groundbreaking record contract.”  However, the highly popular and controversial fighter was a no-show at the press conference for “Day of Reckoning” in Las Vegas, where many thought he was to be introduced.

Affliction Entertainment Vice President, Tom Atencio, said that the dollar figures that Ortiz’ camp is asking for is not plausible for the upstart MMA company, and Ortiz’ ability to become more flexible might be the deal breaker.

“We’ve got a contract, and it’s just not feasible,” Atencio said.

Affliction put on their first promotion this past July, and received a great deal of attention for their efforts. Most of it was good, in that they had many big names competing on the card, including current WAMMA champion and consensus #1 ranked heavyweight in the world, Fedor Emelianenko.

However, they did receive much criticism for their debut event as well, as it was reported that the fighters’ salaries for the event reached in the upwards of $3-$4 Million. That is well over what the UFC pays their fighters for one of their events.

A week after Affliction: Banned, Atencio stated that Affliction’s next promotion on October 11th may not yield the same type of paydays for the fighters. Doing so would force the company well into the red financially.

“It gets back to whatever I do in business, it’s always about dollars and sense,” Atencio stated. “With some fighters it’s not, with some fighters it is. There’s just so many variables.”

But, Atencio understands that Ortiz is negotiating from a position of power. Although he hasn’t won a significant fight in over three years, his brand draws fans by the masses, which will lead to higher ticket sales and Pay-Per-View buys. 

“I think that if you go into an organization, whether it’s fighting or promotion, if you feel you’re worth something, and you don’t go after it, you’re never going to know what you’re worth,” Atencio said. “I go through 90 percent of my contracts with fighters. Everybody’s different.”

Affliction does not have a timetable for when they think they might be able to close the deal on Ortiz, however they were hoping to have him fight fellow light heavyweight Renato “Babalu” Sobral on their October 11th card in Las Vegas, Nevada. Emelianenko was initially scheduled to headline the event, but was forced to withdraw due to injury.

If Affliction is able to post Ortiz as the headliner in his place, you can bet their second promotion will do better than the first one, which the company already viewed as a success.

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