All good things must come to an end, and at UFC 84, it will be the beginning of the end for Tito Ortiz and his run with the UFC. Ortiz is in the last fight of his current contract, and there is no extension on the horizon, nor does he want there to be. He has left the UFC once before in a contract dispute, but this time it is different. He was younger then, and one of the most feared fighters in the world. At 33, Tito’s MMA career is seemingly on the decline, having posted a Draw and a Loss in his last two outings.
Ortiz wasn’t necessarily one of the UFC’s founding forefathers, but he certainly was one of the most influential fighters the organization has had. His role in the UFC’s development in the late 90’s has helped evolve the sport, more specifically the UFC, to get to where it is today. And almost a decade’s long effort will come to a crashing end May 24th in Las Vegas, Nevada when he will be facing undefeated Lyoto Machida (12-0).
“This is the last fight in my contract with the UFC,” stated a proud Ortiz. “Then, I’m going to go and sign up with somebody else just because the way Dana White (UFC President) treats me as a fighter is very disrespectable.”
UFC 83 is entitled “Ill Will” primarily because bitter lightweight rivals BJ Penn and Sean Sherk will be slugging it out for the title, however, 83’s title may better capture Ortiz’s grudge with White.
“It’s not about money anymore it’s about respect,” said an emotional Ortiz. “I’m going to go with someone else who will pay me more money and treat me with more respect than Dana White has ever treated me. I’m very excited to move on, to grow and go somewhere else and help them build a company like I did with the UFC.”
All of Ortiz’s 21 professional fights have been for the UFC, and in a sense he helped build it from the ground up. So the question is, why would White be forcing out such a staple of the organization? Ortiz isn’t the first fighter to have beef with White (please see Randy Couture), and he certainly will not be the last.
The answer is simple. White is a businessman. He has swallowed his pride many times before when he thought it was best for the organization, which included bringing back fighters that he didn’t agree with, such as current UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn, as well as Ortiz himself. But he feels that Ortiz is not the fighter he once was, that he doesn’t have the hunger or the skill to become dominant again.
“People think I’m soft [now], they’re big-time mistaken,” expressed Ortiz. “I hope Machida thinks I’m soft because I’m far from that. I know Machida is great at stand-up, and he’s great on the ground, but my stand-up is much better than his and I’m gonna take it for everything it’s worth.”
Ortiz started out his UFC career with a bang, and he intends to end it the same way. It is likely that we will be seeing vintage Otriz as he looks to send a message to future employers.
“I’m not looking for a fast submission,” proclaims Ortiz. “I’m looking to punish the guy, hurt him as bad as possible so the fans get entertained by my fight, that’s the way I’ve always been. I’m gonna put a force on Machida that he’s never felt before. He’s never felt a Tito Ortiz when it comes to fight time – and he’s gonna feel that force.”
“I want to make sure the pay-per-view buyers are all excited by my fight and people who are paying up to $700 to come and see me fight are getting their money’s worth.”
Get it while you can UFC fans, because it will be gone tomorrow.