Tito Ortiz: Highest Paid Fighter Ever
Tito Ortiz is set to become the highest paid MMA fighter in history when a "ground-breaking" deal between the free-agent fighter and Affliction is announced as early as Wednesday during a press conference for Affliction's next card, which will be held Oct. 11 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
"I guarantee you that my contract will be like no other," said Ortiz, stopping short of giving away the specifics of a deal that could include responsibilities outside of the ring. "It will be a ground-breaking record contract for sure, without a doubt. There's so much money to be made right now in mixed martial arts and it's all about the fighters trying to make that money. It's going to be a long-term deal where I put my heart and soul into the company and help build them. That's something I'm interested in doing. They're going to bring me on, not just as a fighter but also doing some of the back work also."
Ortiz, who became a free agent on Monday after an 11-year career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, met with Donald Trump on Tuesday to finalize the deal and is expected to be at Wednesday's press conference where his first opponent will be Renato "Babalu" Sobral.
"Babalu has been in my crosshairs," Ortiz said. "He's already been talking smack, saying if he sees me he's going to kick my ass, but right on if he keeps thinking that. He'll get his face caved in sooner or later. I know Frank Shamrock is another person who's been opening up his mouth. He beat me the last time we fought and I think that would be a great revenge fight where I kick his ass and finally shut him up. As time goes we'll see who Affliction signs besides me. I don't know. I might even go up to heavyweight if the bigger pay days are there."
Ortiz attended Affliction's first card, on July 19 in Anaheim, and has been in contact with Trump since his last fight in the UFC about the possibility of joining Affliction after the two forged a friendship during Ortiz's stint on The Celebrity Apprentice.
"Mr. Trump works fast and gets busy in a lot of the things he does and he's going to give me the best deal possible," said Ortiz. "I know they want to make some money and I know they got over 100,000 pay-per-view buys on their first show and with me it's guaranteed to be over 500,000 pay-per-view buys just by the number of fans that are going to follow me no matter where I go so they're going to get there money's worth just in pay-per-view no matter what."
Trump addressed the possibility of Ortiz joining Affliction last month in a conference call with reporters.
"I think Tito is terrific," said Trump. "He not only was a nice guy and very different from the way he is in the ring, he was really talented, really smart, and yes, I think he likes me a lot. And I like him a lot. That doesn't mean he signed a contract [with Affliction], but I think Tito would love to deal with us."
Ortiz's deal was structured in a way that would make it impossible for the UFC to match, as they contractually have that right to do so. However, UFC President Dana White, with whom Ortiz has had an ongoing feud for the past five years, said that there would be no bidding war and that he wouldn't even match an offer if Ortiz was paid "$30 a fight."
"They have the right to match the offer, so I'll be getting a deal that no other fighter has ever gotten. It's going to be some ground-breaking news for sure," he said. "I'm going to a company that's going to take care of me, a company that's going to respect me, a company that's going to put me in the forefront and make me the ambassador that I've always been. I think Mr. Trump respects me at that value to get it. My heart's not with the UFC anymore because of how bad they treated me. They don't respect me and they don't see me as a businessman. All they think is that I'm a punk fighter that's going to fold, and I've already proven that I'm not going to fold to anything by not resigning with them."
Trump made his first play for Ortiz after his last fight in the UFC, a unanimous decision loss to Lyoto Machida on May 24 -- Ortiz's second loss in three fights to extend his winless mark to nearly two years. His last win in the Octagon was on Oct. 10, 2006, a TKO victory over Ken Shamrock.
"We talked a little bit about [Trump getting involved in MMA] when I was on the show," Ortiz said. "I know he did a couple things with WWE and a few boxing events and after the show he said, 'One day, I may be interested in getting into your business and I want to sign you' and that's pretty much where it was until he signed with Affliction and once he signed with Affliction I got a personal call from him saying he was going to come to my last fight in the UFC and support me and after my fight was over he walked up to me and said, 'Tito you may have lost tonight, but you won in my eyes no matter what. I just signed with Affliction and we want to sign you next.' He sees the power that I have and he's going to respect me for it."
With big names such as Ortiz, Randy Couture, Fedor Emelianenko and Tim Sylvia giving credibility to Affliction combined with the financial backing and business savvy of Trump, Ortiz believes it's only a matter of time before Affliction makes the UFC, and White in particular, regret not giving the fighters a bigger cut of the profits when they had the chance to.
"Mr. Trump sees it as a business and no more than that," said Ortiz. "He understands that and there's nothing personal to it at all and that's what the UFC has problem with. The UFC takes the work they do very, very personal and in any business once you let your personal feelings get involved with it everything goes to [crap]. Mr. Trump is a strict businessman who respects the fighters. This is going to be one of the biggest losses [the UFC] has ever had to date and one of the worst mistakes they've ever made."
-Arash Marzaki, "Inside MMA"
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