mma / Columns

411mania Exclusive Interview: Locking up with Tito Ortiz

June 28, 2007 | Posted by Don Abato

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately an early draft of our exclusive interview with Tito Ortiz was posted on the site. Below is the finished, corrected version.

411mania: Would you say, like how other professional athletes have their superstitions, training in Big Bear is your “routine” like how other pro athletes have theirs?

Tito Ortiz: For sure, but I mean, a larger base than any professional athlete. Professional boxer, professional kickboxers, professional Judo,guys who get ready for the Olympics, wrestlers who get ready for the Olympics, guys pretty much put everything into one. I do wrestling, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and boxing plus cardio and weight training everyday. So it’s a six to eight hour day, six days a week.

411mania: Are you doing anything different in your training since Rashad is such a strong wrestler too? What have you been doing different or are you even doing anything different?

Ortiz: I do exactly the same thing I’ve always been doing. But for every one of my training camps I do something different for the fight. For this one I’ve been bringing a little more wrestlers and I’ve been doing a little bit more wrestling you know… just because Rashad is a really good wrestler. I think that’s really what it comes down to for the fight; becomes a wrestling match.

“When I do beat Rashad I’m looking to possibly get the winner of Liddell and Wanderlei Silva. I think that’s the next match for me.”

411mania: Any big name people wrestling wise that you’ve been bringing in to workout with?

Ortiz: Tyson Thivierse(4-time All-American at Montana State-Northern) from Carson City, NV, a two-time National Champion in Division II. Aaron Simpson from Arizona State who’s a National Champion and an All-American himself. And Rafael Davis, an All-American himself from Cal-State Bakersfield. Just really putting the training in.

411mania: Is there an extra fire lit for Rashad? Are you getting up for him more than you did Ken?

Ortiz: For this fight it’s all the same. I take every fight as seriously as I do any other. I’m not going to take it any lighter if the person isn’t as good as another. I always take everyone the same. I don’t wanna get caught off-guard. Gonna take this fight very seriously because Rashad is an undefeated fighter and I know he’s gonna come in with nothing to lose. But I’m going to give him his first loss.

411mania: I know you really don’t wanna talk about it much, but you mentioned it might become a wrestling match, what’s your approach…. what tactics will you be looking to employ come fight time against Rashad?

Ortiz: You know, just impose my will on him. Biggest thing I need to come with. And to entertain the fans, make sure I give them their dollars’ worth. I don’t want to make it a boring match, I wanna make sure it’s very interesting to watch. Like every one of my fights, people get their dollars worth when they buy the pay-per-view.

411mania: Are you expecting to spend some time on your back since he’s such an accomplished wrestler?

Ortiz: I’m not expecting it. I imagine it will happen once or twice. Maybe. I train for it…nothing new to me. It’s gonna be a task for him to get me on my back. And I think vice-versa, that’s why it’s going to be such an interesting fight.

411mania: Is emotion even playing into this? Are there really bad feelings between you and him? Is this just another fight to you, or is there actually the drama?

Ortiz: It’s mixture of both. Every one of my fights there is always a lot of emotion. I’m a very emotional fighter. It’s the way I fight. With Rashad, when we first had words with each other I just lost complete respect towards him. He thought he’d disrespected me and I started taking it personal. So for this fight it’s one of those things I try to look at. When I step into the Octagon I’m a try to hurt him. And to do that I gotta have some type of anger towards the person…and I do. That’s what’s going to make the fight so interesting.

411mania: What was it that he did to set you off? What did he say?

Ortiz: We were at UFC (69) and I confronted him. I said good luck in your fight. Watch what you say about me. He said , “I’m not gonna watch what I say about you. I’ll say whatever I want.” He just kept flapping his mouth. From that point on let’s get this sh!@ back over, we’ll keep it at that then.

411mania: If you beat Rashad where do you think that puts you in the 205 title mix?

Ortiz: When I do beat Rashad I’m looking to possibly get the winner of Liddell and Wanderlei Silva. I think that’s the next match for me. Or whoever the fans want me to fight. I think that’s the next step for me to do. I’m willing to fight anybody they put me against. That’s how I’ve always wanted to fight.

“Like every one of my fights, people get their dollars worth when they buy the pay-per-view.”

411mania: Who do you think is gonna win that match up between Chuck and Wanderlei?

Ortiz: Probably Wanderlei but most likely Chuck. I mean it’s just one of those things…it’s such a great fight. It’s one of those ones you don’t know who’s gonna win.

411mania: What’s your reaction to the Rampage/Chuck fight last month?

Ortiz: It was very exciting. Rampage showed me that he’s a great champion. He showed me that he punches really hard and he showed me he has Chuck Liddell’s card. That’s what it really came down to. I was excited for Rampage. Quinton’s of course a very good friend of mine. I’ve been training with him for the last 10 years. To see him be the Light Heavyweight champion: I was very proud of him. He deserves the world.

411mania: Did you call that one? Is that the way you saw it happening, that fast?

Ortiz: Naw, I did not. I didn’t call that at all. That was a surprise to me. But that just the way the game comes down. You never know who’s going to win at a certain time. Blink your eyes and it could be over with in seconds.

411mania: You’re facing the same type of situation as before. You’ve got a friend who’s also a training partner. Potentially your paths might cross where you have to face each other for the belt. If that situation comes up do you guys have any sort of agreement or would you put things aside and duke it out for the title?

Ortiz: Me and Rampage said we’ll never fight each other, ever, you know? But if the money that we’re getting paid for the fight comes to numbers we’ve always wanted, we’re not gonna say no. I mean I don’t wanna take food out of his family’s mouth and I know he doesn’t wanna take money out of my family’s mouth. The only problem I’ve ever had with this is Chuck Liddell. We’re only getting paid a hundred thousand dollars per person for a fight. That was no money for what I thought we should be fighting for. When Rampage gets the bout it could be a multi-million dollar fight so we could look at it as, “Hey we’re gonna make a lot of money and entertain the fans.”

411mania: Say the fight does happen and you get that huge payday. You don’t foresee the same thing that happened with Chuck where the friendship fell apart? Because like you said, there a different reasoning to putting this fight together. It’s for the payday.

Ortiz: It’s the respect value that me and Rampage have with each other. In our friendship there’s loyalty and there’s respect for each other. Liddell never had that. He sold out to the company. Which is the way Liddell is.

411mania: You called him Dana’s puppet.

Ortiz: Everything about it is true. You hear him talk and the things he was saying, it’s not the stuff that Liddell ever says. It’s completely what Dana was saying. That’s the way it always has been. The times that I’ve worked with Dana. He’s always tried to tell me to say things I’ve never said because it didn’t sound good and it wasn’t things that I wanted to say. I know that Chuck has always said “Yes Dana” and he’s always listened to what Dana says and is pretty much Dana’s puppet. That’s the way I’ve seen it, that’s the way I say it. I’m gonna speak the truth, I’m not gonna hold anything back, and that’s just the way I am.

411mania: In looking at it, Dana recently told the Houston Chronicle he doesn’t need you to grow UFC. But as long as you’re a top fighter you’ll stay in the UFC.

Ortiz: What speaks the truth is my fans. If it wasn’t for my fans I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I think they really got my back no matter what company I fight for. They’re still wanting to watch me fight no matter what. I’ve always had my loyalty to the UFC. I’ve never fought in any other company in the last 10 years of my competition. I’ve been with the UFC by Zuffa and before Dana White was ever running it. I’ve been World Champion before they even ran the company. I was their poster when they didn’t have the pay-per-view. When they weren’t allowed in Las Vegas. They weren’t allowed a lot of places. They put my name in front because I spoke well of the company. I spoke very well of the sport. I spoke very well of the fighters themselves. I wasn’t an ignorant fighter saying, “I’m going in there and I’m gonna knock someone out.” I was very articulate, I was very descriptive of what Ultimate Fighting was really about. it wasn’t the bar brawling and the cock fighting that people believed it was. Which this is a true sport and I spoke well of it. I think UFC should give me a little respect for that, just because of all the hard work I did them by doing that. Liddell wasn’t the one that carried the name of the UFC. Yeah, he did knock people out, but the whole factor of it was kind of describe what UFC was. Tell ’em a story, tell ’em what UFC is about and where it is now. When I was dominant I shocked people all the time. Last year, I won 3 of my 4 fights, and I had two knockouts and one decision but I’m still dominant and I’m still in the title contention. I’m someone to reckon with. I’m not someone who gets beat by people. Look at my last nine years of competition. I’ve only lost to two people. I lost to heavyweight world champion Randy Couture, and I lost twice to Chuck Liddell. Those are the only two people I’ve ever lost to. I am still a name to be reckoned with.

411mania: You mentioned it, Chuck said the same thing when I talked to him during the “300” junket. He foresees he’s pretty much gonna end his MMA career with UFC. You pretty much feeling the same thing?

Ortiz: Not now. I still see another three years of competition. Whether it’s in the UFC or if its another organization, but in my heart is to be loyal and stay in the UFC. All I want to see is the big pie being shared with the fighters. I’m sick of eating off the crumbs. I wanna piece of the pie, not just eating all the crumbs like they’ve been doing for the last four years that they’ve been collecting lots of revenue.

411mania: There’s the NFL Players Union. All the big sports have a players union. I’ve heard Josh Koscheck talk about it. You’re one of the few people that enjoy big paydays from the company. Most of fighters don’t get that payouts that you do. Is there an interest on your part in getting a fighter’s union established in the UFC or just in MMA?

Ortiz: I would love that. I would be a front runner for it. I would support it 100 percent. I believe in that you know. I just kinda look at the numbers that boxing does. We outsell boxing and we’re getting just a little piece, not even a piece just a little half of a percent of what the company is making compared to what boxing is doing. De La Hoya…he makes $48 million dollars and Floyd Mayweather made $25 million of a revenue of $130 million that boxing made on that fight…Mayweather vs. De La Hoya. I just see they’re getting a bigger piece of the pie. How come us fighters that are putting our lives on the line and risking life-threatening injuries? I have son and when I’m 40-50 years old I wanna be able to throw the baseball with him, throw the football with him and not have back injuries and not have knee injuries and make sure that my family is taken care of for the rest of my life. Big paydays like that are the ones that are gonna take care of it. I gotta look out for my future. UFC is gonna be here forever. Tito Ortiz is not gonna be here forever as fighter, but maybe as a business man.

411mania: If you were to be nominated like a union rep or president to get things started is that something you would undertake, a responsibility like that?

Ortiz: For sure. I would love to take responsibility in doing that. It’d be awesome to do but hopefully we won’t have to start a union. Maybe the UFC will star realizing maybe they should start giving back to the fighters. If it weren’t for the fighters the UFC wouldn’t be here today.

411mania: If something like that were to start your name gets brought up a lot, but who could you see being a good person for that role?

Ortiz: You know, I kinda look for guys who have great charisma, guys who talk well. People like Frank Shamrock, Brandon Vera. Guys who have good names who are willing to push forward. That just something I’ve seen as a business man and as a fighter.

411mania: I know as a business man you have Team Punishment Athletics.

Ortiz: You know I started Punishment Athletics back in 1999. I started out with $500 dollars printing some shirts out on white T-shirts, all of the sudden it’s a multi-million dollar company cuz I really put my heart into it. We have hundreds of different designs, clothes for the whole family. Just training gear and now we’re starting to go along to the Couture gear. More of club gear or going out and dressing nice. Just a mixture of everything really really satisfies me as a clothes maker you know?

411mania: With the street and club stuff, how much of a hand do you put into designing those things?

Ortiz: My hand in probably 98 percent of it. My ex-wife makes sure everything gets ran well and produced the right way and if I’m gonna wear this stuff I’m gonna have a hand in knowing what the good stuff is to wear and what looks cool and what really comes out.

411mania: What’s it like? You’re a fighter…now you’re doing your best, I guess, Calvin Klein impersonation…putting on a fashion designer’s hat?

Ortiz: No… I’m really intelligent. I went to college. I got my “A” degree, almost got my Bachelor’s degree, finishing college is something I really want to do. I’m an intelligent guy who knows how to make money the right way. I’m a good investor, make sure I’m not gonna be like Mike Tyson where you have $400 million dollars and now you have zero. I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen. Of course I have an awesome girlfriend Jenna who’s a very smart business woman who helped me out a whole bunch. I found the love of my life who is really a very supportive woman, who’s very smart, very articulate, very beautiful woman. I support her 100% and helped me with my business ventures.

Punishment Athletics and Tito Ortiz

411mania: In the adult entertainment industry she’s pretty much king and queen; when it comes to commercial ventures her name is thee brand name. Expand more on how she’s helped you…

Ortiz: It’s just for the whole business, the whole icon of Tito Ortiz that’s she’s been helping out for the last year now. She’s been showing the right direction for business models. For her to do what she did with Club Jenna and taking up the whole adult industry and selling it to Playboy and makin the revenue that she did out of it, just see the business stuff that does on the outside of it by getting into mainstream movies and stuff, and she’s been in a lot of things to grow her icon name: Jenna Jameson helped me do the same and I’m kinda following the same model.

“I found the love of my life who is really a very supportive woman, who’s very smart, very articulate, very beautiful woman.”

411mania: How many more fights do you have on your contract after Rashad?

Ortiz: I have one more fight with the UFC and I’m a free agent. Have to see what the UFC is gonna offer me. What they wanna give to me, and how important am I to their company. They’ve showed me plenty of times before that I’m not really that important to the company if they’re gonna make money with or without me. Dana has said that through his own mouth and that’s fine. I’m gonna take of myself no matter what. It’s just one of those things where I’d love to finish my career with the UFC only time will tell. My loyalty stays with the UFC but in long run we’ll see what really happens. How much loyalty they think I really have for them?

411mania: What’s it like being a part of this card? They call it “Stacked”. This card is drawing so much buzz! I say it has potential to be one of the best cards ever….

Ortiz: Very excited! Can’t wait to fight myself. I’ve been in a Main Event over World Championship fights before. That just shows what kind of pull I got when it comes to main event fights. I think fans really respect me and I’ve got many fans that support me no matter what. I gotta thank every one of those fans for their support. This “Stacked “on 7-7-07…my lucky numbers which is awesome…I’m very happy to be fighting on this card and I’m expecting a very exciting night and people get their pay-per-view dollars worth.

411mania: Thanks for your time and good luck in your upcoming bout at UFC 73 against Rashad Evans!

Questions or comments? Email [email protected]

Punishment Athletics and Tito Ortiz


article topics

Don Abato
comments powered by Disqus