Tito Ortiz is going to fight Lyoto Machida, as previously rumored, but it seems he’s none too happy about it. According to The Fight Network, Ortiz begrudgingly agreed to the fight primarily so he can finish his contract with the UFC.
“I was expecting a bigger fight. I think the fans were expecting a bigger fight,” said Ortiz. “I got pressed into it, and all of a sudden, it’s all over the Internet that Tito Ortiz won’t fight Machida. I’m just looking to get my final fight over with the UFC.”
Hard feelings between Ortiz and the UFC (read: Dana White) are nothing new. Call it a clash of strong personalities, but the rivalry has gotten intensely personal in recent years. If it started as a marketing strategy, it’s certainly gone beyond that now. Ortiz expressed his discontent with the UFC and the way they treat/pay fighters in what’s becoming a very familiar tune from the organization’s top talent.
“They don’t want the fighters to get as big as a ‘Tyson’ or a ‘De La Hoya’ or one of those types because all of a sudden, they’ll be expecting to see a lot more payment,” said Ortiz. “The UFC makes about 99 percent of the money, and the rest goes to the fighters. That one percent ain’t nothing compared to what they make on merchandising, on pay-per-view, and everything else they make around the world.”
I can’t help but wonder whether the UFC won’t be as glad to be rid of Ortiz as he will to be gone. Despite his prowess when it comes to marketing himself, Ortiz can be, shall we say, difficult. As a businessman he’s more savvy than most fighters, which might be another reason the UFC won’t weep when his contract is up. A guy who knows what he’s worth and won’t settle for anything less is no friend to management.
Still, it makes you wonder what other fighters think about what’s happening here. Whatever you think about him now, Ortiz carried the UFC through their dark days. He was the one fighter who non-fans knew of. Now that the UFC’s ability to profit off him is outweighed by the headaches he causes, they can’t wait to get shed of him.
That’s a little sad. Ortiz could easily fill the elder statesman/mentor role if only he and the UFC were willing to make that happen.