Ortiz Undecided on New Home

By Loretta Hunt Dec 19, 2008
Should he stay or should he go?

Tito Ortiz says he will answer that question by June, when his non-compete renegotiation period with Zuffa LLC., the owners for the UFC, expires.

Until then, the former light heavyweight champion announced his participation as a color commentator for Jan. 24’s Affliction “Day of Reckoning” broadcast, a job that won’t require him to strap on his gloves and climb back into the ring.

Ortiz, 33, can afford a little rest. He underwent spinal fusion surgery on his back in October and anticipates a 6-8 month recovery period before he can begin the next phase of his career with either the UFC or a new organization. Ortiz says he’s had back problems since his contest with Randy Couture in 2003.

“As far as my fight career, it’s kind of on hold till I get 100 percent,” Ortiz told Sherdog.com. “Will it be with the UFC? Will it be with Affliction? Only time will tell. Right now it’s all about commentating. I’ve always wanted to do it [commentate], but the UFC always put the chopping block on it.”

Ortiz’s tumultuous relationship with the UFC, particularly with its president and the fighter’s former manager Dana White, has been the fodder for countless articles.

In 2007, Spike TV broadcasted a 90-minute special documenting the strained relationship called “Bad Blood,” which focused on Ortiz’s request to meet White in a boxing match as part of his re-signing with the organization. The episode ended with White jilted at the scales, though Ortiz says he’d told his employer ahead of time that he wouldn’t appear until the financials of the taped event had been finalized.

So embroiled had the pair become, that White chided and ridiculed Ortiz in public every chance he got. Ortiz even went as far to announce he’d never return to the Octagon prior to his final contracted bout against Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 last May.

Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com

Ortiz knows as well as anyone
that business is business.
But money is money, and the polarizing Ortiz (15-6-1) is the very best at bringing it in for the promotion. His December 2006 tilt against Chuck Liddell remains the highest grossing pay-per-view in the sport’s history with a reported $1,000,080 buys.

Ortiz -- who made his debut at UFC 13 in 1997 -- said recent talks have been less than promising though.

“I got the first negotiation of what they offered me, and I was still looking at the same [figure] that I had left from,” said Ortiz. “Dana had his personal agenda against me of not promoting me and it’s fine. I’m going to continue to excel. You can only hold a good man down for so long.”

Outside the Octagon, Ortiz has some time to play the field. Though he says he was days away from signing an “awesome contract that a lot of fighters would have been thankful [for]” with Pro Elite before the promotion abruptly closed it doors in late October, he sees a few glimmers on the horizon.

CBS has plans to move forward with another yet-to-be-named promotion on broadcast television in 2009, while Affliction had plans for at least three more shows during the year following its Jan. 24 event.

In an exclusive video interview with Sherdog.com’s Loretta Hunt and Chris Foster, Ortiz discusses just where he’s at with the UFC, Affliction, and other rival promotions looking to hire one of the sport’s most talked-about figures.
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