Back when Tito Ortiz's career was seemingly ending, it seemed like the longtime light heavyweight champion had made up with UFC President Dana White. He admitted that he regretted the ugly feud the two had from 2003 through 2008 and was sent off into retirement as a Hall of Famer.
Not so much these days, though.
With Tito Ortiz now slated to headline a pay-per-view event for Bellator MMA, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" is torching all the bridges he had rebuilt in 2012.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, he had some very harsh words for his former boss, saying, "I thought slavery was over a long time ago," and followed that up by saying: "One of the biggest things now is bullying. And [Dana White's] one of the biggest bullies, I'd say, in the business. He's a big bully."
Those statements came during a media push alongside Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, whom Ortiz will face at Bellator 108. Jackson has an ongoing feud with the UFC and chimed in with his own criticisms:
He's the type of guy that will force you into a fight after surgery, and if you don't perform really well in the fight, or you lose, he'll talk crap about you in the media. Who wants to fight for a person like that, you know? Who wants to be forced into a fight as soon as you get done with surgery? Like, you're not even comfortable enough to know if you can even fight yet. Or they're going to extend your contract, so you'll be stuck with them longer. It's just bad, bad juju. It's bad for your psyche. You don't want to be around people like that.
In the interest of fairness, Ortiz and Jackson are two of the highest earners in UFC history. Ortiz has made a reported $4,075,000 in his UFC career, while Jackson has tallied $3,490,000.
That said, athletes likening their respective sports to slavery isn't new. Minnesota Vikings halfback Adrian Peterson once called the NFL "modern-day slavery," per Yahoo! Sports. Peterson, at that point, was making over $10 million per season.
It is worth noting that, at this point, Ortiz is not just a fighter. He owns a mildly successful clothing line (Punishment Athletics) and is a manager for other fighters, including former Strikeforce champ Cris "Cyborg" Justino. While Ortiz himself is still a recognizable fighter due to his time in the UFC, his interests are likely not best served by boiling up some bad blood with MMA's biggest stage.