I'm a little late with this, but on Monday I received a press release from the press office of Tito Ortiz (yes, he has a press office) and I wanted to share it with you. First, let me set it up a bit. As I mentioned last week, Spike TV aired a show last Thursday -- Bad Blood: Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz --chronicling the events leading up to a supposed March 24 boxing match between White and Ortiz. The match never took place because Ortiz, who had asked for the fight as part of his contract to return to the UFC, backed away in the final days.
Well, Spike TV aired the show anyway, despite the fact that no boxing match took place. Ortiz must have been watching because, according to the press release, he wasn't amused by how he was portrayed on the show.
Here is the press release in its entirety:
Dana White has once again taken the low road and decided to try to damage my reputation and credibility in a public forum. During an appearance on Spike TV on April 12th White accused me of failure to show up for a fight we had originally scheduled for March 24th. He did so at the end of the program and gave me no opportunity to respond or tell the real story, which is simply this: White was fully informed well in advance of March 24 th that I would not fight without a contract, which White refused to sign.
Fighting is my livelihood and jeopardizing my body without a full understanding of conditions, doesn’t make any sense. No professional fighter will go into a risky match without a contract.
I’ve struggled to get respect and dignity for my profession and I do it in the way I lead my life as a fighter and as a human being. Dana’s attitude not only disrespects me, but all fighters. I am taking this stand just not for this one incident, but for all future champions.
I want to reiterate: I am ready to settle my differences with Dana White in any fighting forum we can agree on, but only if there is a signed contract that stipulates where the money is going, whether it is to charity or to the fighters doesn’t matter as much as having a definitive agreement.
Until Dana White is ready to fight me on a professional basis, I strongly urge him to keep his mouth shut.
So, there you have it. Much like Ortiz-Shamrock, this "feud" may drag on beyond its natural lifespan. Let's hope not. As I said last week, this boxing match was never a good idea to begin with. It was a lose-lose proposition for everyone involved.
I will also say, however, that by not showing up for an event that he himself proposed, Ortiz has done damage to his reputation. He had plenty of time to make sure the arrangements for the fight met his standards, but instead he waited until just before the scheduled date to air his grievances.
I've surfed some of the forums online (titoortiz.com, mmaweekly.com, sherdog.com) since this press release came out. Ortiz has always been a lightning rod in the world of MMA -- fans either love him or hate him. These events haven't changed that. However, it appears that fans have generally not approved of the way Ortiz has handled this whole bizarre episode.
Personally, I think UFC should try to put all this very far behind it and move on. The Nevada State Athletic Commission has already strongly suggested they won't sanction this sort of circus-like event ever again. And they shouldn't.
So, let's get back to some good old-fashioned MMA, shall we? Ortiz is rumored to be set to fight in UFC 73 against rising star Rashad Evans, with a possible light heavyweight title shot on the line. Given how the last year or so of fighting went for Ortiz -- a controversial decision win over Forrest Griffin, two wins over outclassed rival Ken Shamrock, and a convincing loss to Chuck Liddell -- I hope the former UFC light heavyweight champ goes back to basics and concentrates on winning MMA matches.
Ortiz is undoubtedly charismatic and has shown that he can make money with his personality. He is also thoughtful and personable, as he proved in our one-on-one interview last December. But, I believe he is now in a position where he sorely needs a victory in the Octagon over a reputable fighter like Evans to maintain his credibility. If Ortiz is worried about getting paid, winning in the Octagon will solve all his problems. A loss at UFC 73, on the other hand, may ensure that the next time he suggests a gimmick like this boxing match, no one will be paying attention.