In the ‘real world’ time heals all wounds. In the fight game, money has the same curative effect. This was vividly illustrated with the recent announcement that Tito Ortiz has patched things up with Dana White and will return to the UFC. Tito left the promotion over a year ago after a highly publicized split with the UFC president.
Ortiz has had several run ins with the UFC over their notoriously tight pay structure, and first left the promotion in 2005. He was back later that year for a run as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter against longtime rival Ken Shamrock. After losing to current light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in his last UFC appearance, Ortiz left the company and bounced around doing personal appearances and commentary for a variety of promotions. He had surgery on his back in the process, and now claims that hes back to 100%.
Whether or not Ortiz is near his top form as a competitor is of secondary importance to the UFC since his true value has never been questioned”people will pay to see him fight. Ortiz is a fighter that offers no middle ground of public opinion, as people either love him or hate him. That dynamic is box office and PPV gold, a fact not lost on the savvy UFC brass. Dana White evoked the same theme in his comments on Ortiz at a Friday press conference in Las Vegas:
“Tito and I have a history that everyone knows. He’s still a guy that everyone wants to see fight. He said his back has healed perfectly and he’s ready to take a shot at the title. He’s one of those guys that people love and people love to hate. We’ve put all our differences aside, have squashed everything and will move forward, and Tito will retire in the UFC.”
To which Ortiz offered this response:
“Time really cures everything. Dana was a man of his word. Dana apologized to me. We’re like boyfriend and girlfriend.”
Ortiz said that Dana White and UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta came to his home in Huntington Beach, California and made him the proverbial offer he couldnt refuse:
“I’m happy, I’m satisfied, You’ll never hear anything about money again.
While both Ortiz and White said that he’d be back in the octagon ‘ASAP, neither man gave much in the way of specifics. Sources suggest that he could debut on the UFCs New Years card against Mark Coleman. Coleman is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Stephan Bonnar at UFC 100 in mid July.
To best understand Titos appeal and why the UFC was so anxious to re-sign him, well paraphrase HBO boxing commentator Larry Merchant. Merchant once noted in reference to George Foreman during his ‘comeback’ that there are many fighters, but very few stars. Like George Foreman, Tito Ortiz is a star. Some love him, some hate him but people pay to watch him fight.
Ross Everett is a freelance sports writer and highly respected authority on sports betting odds comparison. He writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sportsbooks and sportsbook directory sites. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with three Jack Russell Terriers and a kangaroo. He is currently working on an autobiography of former energy secretary Donald Hodell.