The real UFC battle
Once friends, Ortiz and White now despise each other
Posted: Saturday July 7, 2007 3:42PM; Updated: Saturday July 7, 2007 3:55PM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The billboards outside of the Arco Arena are advertising the much-hyped fight between Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans on Saturday night but the most intriguing rivalry in the sport today might be between Ortiz and Dana White, the president of the UFC.
Ortiz and White used to be good friends, with White serving as Ortiz's manager until he took over the UFC in 2001. That was when their relationship started to deteriorate to the point that Ortiz left the UFC in 2003 and White vowed that he'd never again work for the company after a contract dispute caused Ortiz to refuse to fight Chuck Liddell, another former friend whom White used to manage.
"Dana White as a person is an awesome guy," says Ortiz. "Dana White the businessman is [a jerk]. He told me, 'The only reason the fans love you is because of me.' I remember when I was about to negotiate my contract, Dana White says, 'I made you and I'll break you.' Okay, thanks for the threat. That's awesome."
When Ortiz returned to the UFC after a 10-month hiatus four years ago, he signed a contract that included a boxing match between himself and White. It was a fight Ortiz wanted and said he looked forward to but one that never materialized after he said White reneged on a promise to give him 50 percent of the revenue that would be generated from the fight.
"Tito Ortiz is full of [it]," says White. "Tito knows when we used to spar and I used to punch his head in. He wanted to beat me at my own game but he knew we were going to go three rounds and Tito wasn't going to look good coming out of this thing one way or the other."
White believes the real reason Ortiz backed out of the fight was because he was listening to the advice of his girlfriend and legendary porn star Jenna Jameson. "He wasn't dating Jenna at the time when he agreed to it and I guess Jenna was telling him, 'I don't think this is a good idea,'" says White. "Apparently he's so ... whooped, he listens to everything Jenna tells him to do so he decided not to show up. So there are two of them now who think they're geniuses. It's double idiot power now."
The bad blood goes beyond the failed boxing match as Ortiz has continually called into question White's business tactics when it comes to the fighters' alaries, which pale in comparison to that of boxers despite the growing popularity of the UFC.
"The UFC made something like $231 million last year. You look at the revenue they're giving out to the fighters, and I guarantee you, the total of all the UFC fighters together would not total close to $10 million," says Ortiz. "They're making that much money and not giving back to the fighters? I'm the only one that's speaking out on this. No one else is speaking out because the UFC has a monopoly. Guys like Liddell are so damn stupid. They're content with making what they're making. It's fine to them.
"I know for a fact, one time that Chuck got a million-dollar bonus, in cash, in a suitcase from the UFC. They're happy giving him one million instead of the five or six or 10 million that they should be giving him. Liddell's so stupid that he's satisfied by that. He comes from a lower-class family that he's made a lot for now. I came from a very low-class family, as low as you can get, but I've seen the big money. That's what I'm going to make. People will say you're a sellout, but I ain't no sellout! I'm a businessman. I'm a smart businessman that's going to take care of myself."