You never know what to expect when it comes to UFC president Dana White, and today’s highly publicized conference call was no different. The outspoken promoter said that he was going to “break” some “major UFC news” and he didn’t disappoint as he welcomed back their most controversial fighter.
It had been heavily rumored over the last week, if not blatantly stated by both parties, that former UFC light heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz would be ending his year-long free agency period to rejoin the UFC. This caused the rumor mill to blow even harder, leaving everyone guessing as to what topics would be up for discussion on today’s media call.
“For me, personally, it’s about the competition,” Ortiz said. “Financially and everything, I’m OK. Competition was the biggest factor. If I fight for Strikeforce, who am I going to fight? The best fighters are in the UFC. I’m happy. You’ll never hear anything about money out of my mouth ever again.”
Ortiz has complied a 14-6-1 professional record over his 12-year mixed martial arts career, all of which were spent with the UFC. Although his Octagon accomplishments were many, they paled in comparison to the controversy that he constantly generated outside of it.
“Tito Ortiz is still a guy fans want to see fight,” White said. “He’s ready to compete at 205 pounds. A lot of people love him, and a lot of people love to hate him. He’s back. Tito and I set all our differences aside. Tito Ortiz will retire in the UFC.”
In all other professions, you would be fired instantly for badmouthing your boss. But not in the UFC. Here, in the land of blood and bruises, the company front-man more than welcomes a good verbal sparring, especially when the hatred is mural.
“He’s one of the most dishonest human beings I’ve ever met. I put up with him when he was a good fighter. He’s not anymore. He’s done. I’m no longer in the Tito Ortiz business,” White emphatically stated the very instant Ortiz’ UFC contract expired.
In what was though to be his last-ever Octagon battle, Ortiz dropped a convincing unanimous decision to Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 in May of 2008. Since then, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has been one of the most sought after free agents while recovering from an October back surgery.
Although the 34-year-old remains one of the sports most imposing figures, it should be noted that he has gone 0-2-1 over his last three contests. And it could be argued that he hasn’t won a “big” fight since he took a split decision from Forrest Griffin at UFC 59 in April of 2006.
Ortiz hinted on his MySpace page late Thursday night, the eve of White’s major conference call, that he was planning to head back home again.
“A new beginning starts tomorrow,” Ortiz blogged. “I have stood my ground as a fighter and business man. Now my fans will get to see the best of me. New back, new mind, and new motivation.
“The future of my career will be made tomorrow,” Ortiz continued. “I hope you will be as happy as I am. Let the Punishment Begin!!!!!”
In addition to that, last Friday before White was set to appear on ESPN 1100, he Tweeted, “I am going on espn 1100 in vegas at 6pm. I will be talking anything mma. Call in number is 702 364 1100! Oh yea and welcome back tito 🙂 ”
Can you believe that? Dana ended his Welcome Back Tito Tweet with a SMILEY FACE!
While a guest on the popular radio show, White stated that he an Ortiz had indeed buried the hatchet, however didn’t confirm his return to the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion.
“Tito and I have been talking and we have been trying to see if we could figure things out,” said White. “I’ve said many times that Tito and I have some issues and we both need to grow up.”
White hinted that Ortiz might face MMA vet Mark Coleman in his return, however a former foe has already offered to roll out the welcome back wagon.
“Sign me up to kick titos ass again,” Former UFC light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell Tweeted on Tuesday.