SUNRISE, FL—High-profile free agent light heavyweight Tito Ortiz will be cageside as a guest of EliteXC for tonight's CBS broadcast of "Heat."
And while the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" recently revealed to MMAjunkie that he will be out of commission for the next six months, a deal may be signed this month to bring the former UFC champion to EliteXC.
"Right now, EliteXC and myself are in great discussions for the future and working with each other," Ortiz said.
Ortiz made his first appearance in conjunction with EliteXC at Friday's weigh-ins. Although no formal announcement of his presence was made, a buzz quickly filled the room when the 33-year-old was spotted.
Ortiz said tonight's appearance may be far less under the radar.
"I'm here as a guest of EliteXC," Ortiz said. "I'm possibly going to be commentating a fight [tonight]. It's going to be exciting. I can't wait."
In addition to the upcoming birth of twins with girlfriend Jenna Jameson, I still don't get this one, as Ortiz is also slated to undergo back surgery on Monday to repair a nagging injury.
"I'm getting surgery...for my lower back," Ortiz said. "I've had a problem for the last five years, so I'm finally going to get the surgery done. I'll be out for about six months, but I'll be back to fight for another six years. I'm really excited."
Ortiz explained the surgery was similar to what UFC middleweight Nate Quarry went through in 2006.
"I have a bulging disc between L4 and L5 and S1, so they've got to go in and fuse it," he said. "(It's) the same thing that Nate Quarry got. So I get it done, and I'll be able to wrestle the way I used to wrestle."
You'd be surprised to see who has been in the running for Tito's credentials.
One surprise competitor in the race for Ortiz's services was the Kentucky-based American Fight League. Ortiz said they have been eliminated from the chase.
"That was just a meeting that came about, and it was no more than that at all," Ortiz said. "They're a start-up company, and they thought that they could throw a few dollars together and persuade someone like me, and expect me just as a fighter. I'm not that guy."
In August, Ortiz announced that he was about to sign a deal with Affliction Entertainment, an upstart organization with deep pockets, with what he called a "ground-breaking record contract."
However, Ortiz said Affliction has also recently been ruled out.
"Affliction kind of dampered away just because they just want to pay for a fighter just to fight," Ortiz said. "I'm not that fighter to make a company as the UFC is now and just get paid just for the fights."
A proven draw in the UFC, Ortiz has been involved in some of the most memorable—and profitable—shows in UFC history. And while the UFC has recently come under fire for forcibly requiring their fighters to sign a binding licensing agreement, Ortiz said he simply wants to earn a piece of the pie his name recognition earns.
"I look at the whole brand itself," Ortiz said. "I'm a business man. I've got to look at myself as not just a commodity, but a business itself—Tito Ortiz brand."
Ortiz went on to explain that EliteXC has a solid understanding of what he hopes to accomplish with a new contract.
"I think it's just a percentage of all the way around what my name is going to be in—merchandising, pay-per-view, gate, everything," Ortiz said. "I want a piece of it just because I'm putting the butts in the seats (and getting) the pay-per-view buys.
"The brand of me the last 11 years, the competition I've been doing, I feel like I got my ass kicked the last 11 years. I've set some historical marks, and now I've set some goals for fighters in the future.
"Myself, I defended my world title five consecutive times. I've done a lot in the last 11 years that I think a company needs a name like myself to succeed. And EliteXC may be that company."
And Ortiz believes that once his revenue-sharing-styled contract is in place, it may change the landscape of MMA negotiations.
"Once I make the step across and show that the fighters should get more, then maybe fighters will follow me and they will want to get a piece of their name," Ortiz said.
Ortiz said it was possible that a contract may be finished before the end of the month—a step that would seem to benefit an athlete who will soon succumb to major surgery.
"With EliteXC and CBS and Showtime backing me on this, it's a possibility that we might get something finished before the month's over," Ortiz said. "And the UFC actually has the option to match [any offer]. If they match it, fighters are going to be even more happy because I'll do it with the UFC. But if I don't do it with the UFC, I'll do it with EliteXC and CBS."
While the UFC retains a brief negotiating period when contracts expire, with all former fighters, the type of deal Ortiz is describing would certainly not be considered under current UFC contract standards. Ortiz said that's just fine with him.
"I'm really not open to [returning to the UFC] at all," Ortiz said. "I just don't want to work with (UFC President) Dana (White), ever. I've washed my hands clean.
"I'm not going to talk nothing about Dana. I wish him a world of success. I wish him a world of luck in his business and what he does. But it's time for me to move on, I think. It's time for me to grow out of being under an umbrella for the rest of my life. And I'm going to make some great things happen, for sure."
While a deal has not yet been finalized between Ortiz and EliteXC, the upside to the 11-year veteran seems apparent.
"I just added a bunch of new stuff to Punishment Athletics clothing," Ortiz said of his clothing line. "We've got a bunch of new kids stuff, and we added a bunch of women's clothing also. Our brand is growing. We're not as big dogs as TapouT is just yet, but maybe me coming to CBS that will happen."
And when prompted as to whether we would see any of Ortiz's Punishment Athletics branding on tonight's CBS broadcast, the famed fighter may have finally tipped his hand.
"Not yet," Ortiz said. "The deal that I'm signing with them, once it gets done—it's in blood—it will be starting from then on."
This could be HUGE if Tito eventually battles Kimbo, hopefully grounding and pounding him off of his spoon-fed pedestal.