Tito Ortiz is a huge reason why the sport of mixed martial arts is as popular as it is today. Alongside Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, Ortiz pushed the boundaries of the UFC and having some of the most memorable fights, some outside the cage. When he stood up to try and get a better pay day he faced the full force of the UFC’s marketing department and not in a good way. But while he was being blasted for his stubbornness in contract negotiations, that is what ultimately led him and several others to the pay they deserve.
Now, after fifteen years, Ortiz has retired from the sport and started the next chapter of his life. For many, the question of what to do once you retire is a daunting task to answer. But Ortiz isn’t walking away from the sport, instead he’s giving back to it. He plans to help the current generation of fighters not only become better inside the cage, but also outside.
Ortiz sat down with MMARecap to discuss his future, rehash some of the past and of course talk about the similarities that are being drawn between him and current light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
You are now retired from fighting and you are now partnering in a promotion. Is there a part of it that’s going to be you coaching them as well?
No it’s not as a coach, but there is going to be a lot of opportunity for the guys to come in and train with me. I started my management company also, it’s called Prime Time 360 Sports and Management. This is something I have taken a heart to. I joined up with Roy Englebrecht who has put on good amateur and pro mma and boxing events. I want to be able to help mold and structure these guys for their future. The way that you do that is you get them when they are amateurs and you teach them how to be professionals. Not just inside the cage as a fighter, but as businessmen. This was a great thing and a positive way for me to give back to the fighters. I’ve made mistakes and done things great, but I have learned and now I have the opportunity to teach it.
I’ve run into on the local scene with a lot of fighters that aren’t good at interviews or open their mouth and say things they shouldn’t. Even though I know they can kick my ass, they say the wrong thing. Is that one of those things specifically you will be working with these kids?
100%. There’s so many things that I want to build them. It’s kinda like going to school. I am going to show them the right ways to do things and the bad ways that they are doing them and how to fix it. I want them to treat this as a professional business. Don’t go out there and get DUI and in fights with people on the street. I want them to hold themselves on a higher stature. That’s what really matters and that’s how they will make more money. You have to get people in those seats to want to watch you and fall in love with you. That’s part of the business of their name.
Fans have fallen in love with you, then hated you, then fallen in love again towards you. What is your advice to these up and coming fighters when they are no longer the fan favorite and are suddenly being booed?
That’s a good thing. Either being booed or cheered for. When you have fans who aren’t saying anything, that’s when you need to worry. I think they need to embrace them. The biggest worry is when the fans don’t care at all.
Was there ever a point in your career when that happened and you freaked and wondered what you needed to do?
Yeah of course. After the bad blood stuff happened between me and Chuck Liddell. That’s when it really happened. A bad image was being spread against me from the UFC and they were saying I wasn’t going to fight. That’s when I started to get the boos. The fans believed the propaganda and hated me. Then I did The Ultimate Fighter season three and it switched. Everyone cheered for me. They saw me as a real person and saw past the lies. They saw how I helped out the guys like Michael Bisping, Matt Hamill, Kendall Grove. Then people thought I was a really great guy and a good coach. Then it switched when I did The Ultimate Fighter season eleven when I had to get neck surgery. They said I didn’t want to fight. Sorry, but I fought him twice, why wouldn’t I fight him a third time? I was looking at my neck and I didn’t want to go paralyzed.
Going to the propaganda with the UFC as you said, a lot of people believe everything they see or hear and then there are the people that question everything. When you have a promotion putting their advertising dollars behind a guy, either good or bad, what do you think the best course of action is for the fighter to take as far as their side is being told correctly?
Go out and do interviews. They have to go out and say their side of the story. I can’t count how many times bad stuff was talked about me. Some fans are true fans and others not. There’s your side, their side and the truth. No matter what business you are in, that is what it is. Don’t take the words too seriously from fans. One thing we have now that I didn’t in my career was social media. There was no twitter or facebook. Fighters don’t need to pay attention to that stuff. Take all the negative stuff and ignore it. Take all the positive and reinforce the positive. Don’t believe the negative as it will deteriorate you. Once you believe it, it will spin out of control.
Do you think it is far to compare the situation between what went on early in your career and what is now going on early in Jon Jones’s career?
A little bit, but not much. I stepped up and fought. The only time I didn’t fight was when the fight wasn’t signed. When the fight wasn’t signed, it was a negotiation. Me and Chuck I thought were friends. He showed the true light of that. To me it was a business decision. I wanted to treat it as a business. Guys like Jon Jones should be thanking me right now. He got a Bently because of guys like me. I put all my trust in the UFC. I did everything for them. I believed when they said they would give me a bonus after a fight. But it has to be on paper as you can’t always take a person’s word.
Do you ever plan on releasing a sequel to your autobiography?
Yes I am going to. It will take place after the last one. I’ve gone through so much to this point that so many people want to know that I think it will be good. It should be done in like one or two years. It’s going to be done for sure.
Tito Ortiz would like to thank Punishment.com, Punishmenttrainingcenter.com, Punishmentnutrition.com, and Prime Time 360. Follow him on twitter @titoortiz
Trackback from your site.