Tito Ortiz Sees the Writing on the Wall

titoTito Ortiz, my man.

I have been an Ortiz fan all my life and say what you will about the Huntington Beach Bad Boy, he’s no dummy.

Ortiz is one of the most intelligent fighters in the world when it comes to business sense and it’s one of the main reasons him and Dana White butt heads so often. The two are actually a lot alike.

So it’s no surprise to me with Affliction closing its doors that rumors are flying around about Ortiz returning to the UFC. It’s a smart business move for both parties and White and Ortiz are nothing if not good businessmen.

Let’s look at from Ortiz’s side first. Not only did Affliction fold but Strikeforce couldn’t strike a deal to merge the two promotions before White and the UFC swooped in and partnered up with Affliction’s clothing company.

So Ortiz sees this and he’s been talking about signing with Strikeforce, right? But in all seriousness, how much longer before the UFC topples that promotion too? Six months? A year? Strikeforce is living on borrowed time and Ortiz knows it.

Face it Tito, it’s Dana White’s world when it comes to mixed martial arts and the rest of us are just living in it.

Now let’s look at it from White’s point of view. One might argue that White hates Tito but he would never pass up a huge moneymaking opportunity because of a little name calling in the media.

This isn’t some useless fighter that White can’t get anything out of we are talking about here. Ortiz still has a tremendous amount of value to the UFC and White knows it.

Think about it, even though Ortiz is no longer in his prime, how many fighters can still bring in the pay-per-view dollars that he can? Obviously GSP and Brock Lesnar are two, but after that who is going to blow away Ortiz in pay-per-view sales? It is a very short list.

Ortiz still equals big money for the UFC. White is a hot-head who always says what he feels at the time. However, he also doesn’t let those things get in the way of hurting the bottom line should the circumstances change in the future. This is one of those times.

Do White and Ortiz like each other personally? Probably not. But the bottom line is both men will make a lot more money together than they will apart, and at the end of the day that’s the one thing White and Ortiz have in common: making money.

The writing is on the wall in MMA. It is about to become a one-league sport. As the UFC continues to grow in power and net worth, all of its competitors are falling by the wayside.

Now a rumored deal between the UFC and ESPN basically puts the nail in the coffin of all other MMA promotions. That is the last thing the UFC needs to eliminate all other competition and basically make mixed martial arts a one-sport league, similar to the NFL, NBA and MLB.

And we all know Tito loves the big stage. Excuse me if I can’t see Ortiz competing in Bellator’s next tournament that will be aired in Vietnamese on some obscure channel two days after the live event. Not going to happen.

So will Ortiz return to the UFC? I believe he will. It makes sense on all levels for both Ortiz and the UFC to reunite and make all the money they can together.

You can hate Ortiz and you can hate White but they don’t make too many poor business decisions and this comes down to being a smart business decision for Tito Ortiz. The UFC or Strikeforce? That’s like choosing between Megan Fox and …well, someone who isn’t Megan Fox.

So like Dana White already said in his Twitter teaser, “Welcome back Tito.”

49 COMMENTS
  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    That last line was the best.

    Tom, great read. I agree with all of it. I simply can’t see Ortiz agreeing to fight for SF if they are going to go under anytime in the near future. That’s even more bad blood between him and the UFC, and in the long run, like you said, they will be the only promotion left standing. Let alone the one with the biggest TV deal being ESPN.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    I like the article but I do not see strikeforce folding anytime soon. Coker has been around a long time and now has some good draws, hopefully they stay a strong second here in America with the Japanese staying up there. If we have 2 top promotions and 2 good ones behind it great fights all the time will keep coming. And yes it does seem the ufc is the olny place for Tito.

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  • cere says:

    I would agree that StrikeForce won’t be going away anytime soon. Coker is a smart business man and a careful business man. He earns Dana’s respect by not steping on his toes too much. Sure, he has put himself in Dana’s crosshairs by buying the EliteXC assets, but not enough to make StrikeForce a major target for the UFC to destroy.

    In fact, one could argue that keeping StrikeForce around provides tangible benefits to the UFC. With the UFC trimming the roster a quickly as they have been, they need a reliable, competitive environment for outside fighters to work their way into or back into the UFC, to gain experience in against real, top level fighters. StrikeForce provides this better than any of the smaller regional promotions and more consistently than the Japanese promotions.

    Keeping StrikeForce around provides the UFC with basically a high-caliber farm league…one that has shown they are willing to concede dominance to the UFC and not piss in their pool. Of course, all bets are off if/when StrikeForce becomes a major success with their CBS partnership with primetime events or tries their foot in PPV with any real success. These are areas the UFC will not tolerate and will make them enemy number one with Dana.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    Strike force can also be the place to see some of if not the best women fighters around. Unless the WEC allows women in it might stay that way for quite a while.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    I agree that it would be better to have them around. Cere is exactly right when he says it could be a farm league. A farm league doesn’t necessarily have to be owned by another company. I just think that with the only real organization that gets mainstream media attention being Strikeforce, Dana will once again put them in his cross hairs. I don’t want it to happen, b/c I think 2 or 3 organizations is good for the sport, but if history has taught us anything, I’m afraid it will.

    On the flipside, the ONLY positive thing that could come out of there only being one organization would be either more cards, or twice the amount of fights on cards. Personnaly I hope there are a few orgs left though

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  • Broncos1998 says:

    This writer has been pushing this “UFC total domination is inevitable” theory for awhile now. As such, this article really isn’t about Ortiz, per se, but rather using him as an example to push his theory (clearly a non sequitur). If Ortiz signs with the UFC it will be because it offers him a bigger payday over the next year or two (which is probably all that Ortiz has left as a big draw). Strikeforce has never had a PPV event so Ortiz cannot rely on a % of PPV like he can in the UFC. Like other commenters have noted, Strikeforce is not going anywhere. MMA fans and, like cere said, the UFC, benefit from having a 2nd legitimate US promoter of MMA. I went to the Strikeforce event in St. Louis and it was well done. Not as good as the UFC but worth the price of admission. Coker is smart and my guess is that if you asked the fighters they want a rival promotion to keep the UFC honest and to give them an alternative.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    The fighters love having more than 1 big promoter out there. That just means more money for them and more evenly matched fights. Strikeforce has been around so long though I dont see them leaving. Hopefully they will even put on more shows.

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  • dpk says:

    Coker isn’t going to let Strikeforce go out of business. He doesn’t over spend on fighters who he can’t promote, or can’t fight. I think they will be around for along time. UFC is obviously the NFL of MMA, the clear number 1, and it is great for the sport. Strikeforce, Dream, Sengoku, and Bellator are the Arena/Canadian football leagues that just need to find their footing, and serve as high level feeder organizations. If managed correctly, all of them can be profitable and put on great fights. They also offer fighters enough options that it has to keep UFC honest when it comes to pay, and negotiating contracts without seriously threatening them. The one in immediate danger is Bellator, if the UFC to ESPN happens, that could be the end of Bellator’s TV deal, and sink them right out of business.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    What would happen to the ufc on Spike. Do they have shows running on bioth networks. We always hear of the ufc negotiating with other stations this is something I hope Dana addresses on July 31st.

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  • metalmulisha says:

    Where are people getting these UFC to ESPN rumors from?

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    This is from ESPN 1100 Radiothon-

    “We’re working on some big things,” White said without going into specifics. “It’s going to be a lot of crazy things. … There will be a laundry list of things addressed.”

    On the show, White also confirmed that ESPN executive John Skipper, widely regarded as the “No. 2 guy” at the sports-media powerhouse, was in attendance at UFC 100.

    Sources have told (another MMA website) that discussions have taken place regarding the possibility of ESPN airing live UFC shows at some point, though nothing appears definitive and official confirmation has been impossible to get. On the radio spot, White simply referred to the increased coverage ESPN can bring to its existing events, which air on pay-per-view and Spike TV.

    “He got it,” White said of Skipper’s UFC 100 trip. “He saw the people. He saw the energy. All the things you get from the UFC live event, he felt, and that’s why we’re starting to get more coverage on ESPN.”

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    i cant remember if I read it here or on a different website, if so I cant find anything about it now.

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  • shotokai_ says:

    Largely because exec vice pres of ESPN, John Skipper (I think), attended UFC 100 as a guest. And recently Dana told a radio station how he has been working his ass off over the last few months to get some sort of network deal completed. Could be much ado about nothing, but hopefully not. I’m of the opinion ESPN would be the best place for the UFC to wind up.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    Until its announced i dont belive the ufc will be on network tv. And dana says fedor’s management is hard to work with.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    Well, get ready. It IS coming…. one way or the other. I’ll guarantee it

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    You really think dana finally got a deal done with a network? I would love to see them on HBO as much as the next guy or ESPN. But we have heard this for so long now its just becoming like white noise.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    I din’t say he had it done. I said it’s coming. One way or the other. He didn’t have John Skipper there for nothing.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    John Skipper?

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  • edub says:

    UFC=NFL. I cant wait.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    You obviously didn’t read my 3rd post up from this one

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    I read it I just forgot the name.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    Weird. It was just a scroll wheel away….

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  • metalmulisha says:

    This guy is delusional comparing what the UFC is doing with MMA to what MLB, NBA, and the NFL have done in their leagues. A couple points:

    First of all those leagues each have individual teams in competition with each other as far as players go where they can sign and that drives the market value up for the players.

    If the UFC is the only MMA promotion for a free agent fighter to go they set the market for what the guy is worth without any second thought they’ll be outbid.So if they lowball some fighter that guy has no alternative to get a better deal.

    How this little fact escaped the writer’s mind when he was making the comparison is ridiculous.

    Second we all know each member in those sports leagues have a players union.

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  • Dr.Stoppage says:

    Nice work Tom.
    Time to snag the Tito interview and get HIS thoughts about the whole situation.
    Reading your article remined me of why I HATE him and LOVE him at the same time.
    I still wanna see him fight anywhere,I just can’t figure out if I want him to win or lose.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    Holy shi!t

    That’s a damned good point, metalmulisha!!

    How the hell did it not cross my mind…. You know how bad things could get if they ever got stuff like a fighters union? Could you imagine a UFC Strike?

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    that would be a legendary Dana White rant in the making if the fighters were to strike. It would make the rant on Kalib starns look like a slap on the wrist.

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  • edub says:

    I believe the UFC will pay their fighters a lot more in a year or two down the road, and Im also certain that there will have to be some type of fighters Union in the future.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    Do they have a union in boxing?

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  • edub says:

    I dont know if that was sarcasm or not but I dunno. I think MMA should move far away from boxing though. The fighters are happy with multiple promoters throwing money around, but we barely get to see the best fighters in each division fight each other, and when it does happen they are usually over the hill.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    No sarcasm I was curious. I looked it up be havent found much. I would think a fighters union would be so hard to form that its not worth it to union officals yet, wait until there is more money then we will see some union reps for sure.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    There’s also a ga-zillion different belts and weight classes…. I just don’t understand it

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  • edub says:

    Yea good point fan. Im sure if there was a will thered be a way though. I would say have a mixture of old fighters/trainers and lawyers try and draft one up though.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    Kimo has been trying to get something like this going for a long time now. If you had guys like that, who fought for almost nothing back in the day, helping out the new generation of fighters that would be great. One problem though is that nobody but the fighters really know what they are getting paid. The state athletic commissions olny report disclosed payroll, they dont include any fighter bonuses, sponser money, etc. It still seems like a well kept secret on what these guys acually make.

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  • cocoonofhorror says:

    intelligent? sorry, no.

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  • mu_shin says:

    Back to Tito Ortiz for a moment- Agree that Tito is a savvy self promoter, a decorated former champion, and among the most well known MMA fighters on the planet. He has tremendous name recognition, and will definitely contribute to PPV sales if and when he makes a deal with the UFC.
    ,
    For myself, I’m most curious about where Tito is in his rehabilitation/recovery, and at what intensity level he has been able to return to training. I read lots of posts calling for Tito to step in against Fedor when Josh Barnett bombed out of their fight, totally disregarding the fact that Ortiz has been inactive since back surgery last October, and is still at some level recuperating. I saw a video interview a while back where Tito said he was returning to weight training and expected to resume full contact stand up and wrestling training at some indeterminate time in the near future. Would like to hear from him some specifics as to where he is physically, and when he feels he could return to the ring and expect to compete successfully.

    All the talk is great, but as a fan I’m most interested in seeing Tito in the cage, returning to form and smashing opponents with his signature ground and pound. Really hope he can do it, and justify all this conjecture with some solid performances.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    I am with you mu_shin I would love to see Tito back to form, the old gnp beast he was. I know he and dana have made up but I would still like to see tito crush a few good fighters and prove all the crap dana talked wrong.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    mu_shin, great post. I remember him talkking about that in that interview, but hell, that was a while back, wasn’t it? I’m with you; I hate being left in the dark. I would hope by now he has stepped it up and is training full time again. He always was/is one of my favorite fighters.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    We will find out on friday,hopefully. I hope dana dosent just announce that Tito is back and say he will fight a opponent to be named later.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    I think we’re going to find out a lot more than what we think come Friday.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    I hope friday we get the biggest announcement yet from dana white. First off he should come out wearing the new affliction/ufc shirt. Then in the middle of the press conference he could have Fedor walk out. Seriously what could top that.

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  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    I’d believe the first part. I think Fedor will never fight in the UFC though. He’s locked to M-1 for life.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    I dont think it will happen but the way it has been going it would not completly surprise me.

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  • cere says:

    In his radio interview on Friday Dana said he was going out of the country and would have lots to discuss at the press conference on Friday. I was hoping that this might mean he was heading to Russia to talk with M-1…but When M-1 put out their press release that they were waiting in California for anyone that wanted to talk to them, this became less likely. I still hope Dana went to talk to them in Cali.

    Fedor might be tied to M-1 as a promotion because he is tied to them as his management, but I would hope he would see the conflict in this set up. Just talk to Don King’s victims, err I mean clients. Maybe M-1 and or Fedor would recognize the value of a few million from the UFC to set aside their demands for co-promotion.

    My hope for Friday is Dana discusses Affliction (old news by then) and announces Tito and Vitor are in the UFC and will fight Dan and Franklin at 103. and then pulls a Steve Jobs “oh, one more thing” as he closes and brings out Fedor.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    The ufc is more than Dana They could send in Lorenzo for some negoitations with Fedor and company.

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  • cere says:

    Absolutely. Lorenzo is probably a better pick anyway, as he appears to be less of a hothead when negotiating with people that Dana hasn’t been as successful with (Fitch, CroCop). Even if it is Dana, him saying he was going out of the country doesn’t mean he is. Just as likely it was just a way to be unreachable for a time. Whether it is Dana or Lorenzo or some back office peon sent to negotiate, I don’t care. Just get it done.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    Well said cere.

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  • anferny says:

    I would like to see Tito back – but I am not sure he can match the current level of skill.
    Just before he left and prior to his last fight one of the main comments from Dana was about Tito not having scored any decisive victories for a long time. He had the Ken Shamrock fights, but I am not sure how much one can value those and thats about it..
    In the mean time twho things have or might have change.
    1st the fighting has been going on the in the ufc and we have seen a lot of impressive performances from constantly improving fithers.. so I think the level of cometition has improved
    2nd Tito has had time for his surgery and to recover. So he might be back to being 100% healthy, but is that enough? While he was getting better in terms of health his potential opponents had time for getting better inside the cage.

    So Id be glad to see him back, but I am expecting him to come back and loose like 2-3 fights in a row.
    Not sure if Dana will want to keep him after that. Of course unless he puts on some axe-murderer type of performances ;)

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  • anferny says:

    btw – sorry for the typos, besides obviously not being a native speaker, I am new to this forum and haven’t realised that there is no “edit” function..
    thanks for understanding

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  • BillyWarhol says:

    ORTIZ vs LIDDELL!!

    LET’S GET IT ON!!!!!!!!!!!

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