Markazi: Ortiz-White feud finally comes to end
"Dana said I can't be here," said Ortiz, as UFC Public Relations director Jennifer Wenk spoke to him and pushed the microphone away, instructing the media not to ask him questions.
"Stay up there Tito," said Jameson standing off to the side of the stage. "You deserve it."
As Ortiz spoke to Wenk, he smiled and shook his head as he turned toward the media and said, "I've never been kicked out of a press conference before. After 11 years of giving my blood, sweat and tears to make this company what it is I think I deserve to stay."
Ortiz would sit on the dais for nearly 30 minutes alone as extra security was brought in and Jameson continued to expound on the ridiculousness of the situation. "This is cementing what Tito has been saying for a long time," she said. "Its freedom of speech, freedom of the press, let him speak."
Finally White entered the room along with the other fighters, and looked at Ortiz surprised before addressing the media and the situation after I asked him why he didn't want Ortiz at the press conference. "No, Tito's welcome to come to the press conference," said White. "Just as long as he's not holding his own press conference, I think that's the issue."
During the course of the 45-minute press conference, there were several tense moments between White and Ortiz as reporters asked them questions about each other, prompting White to quench the controversy and incessant questions as best he could.
"I'm sure there are going to be a lot of Tito-Dana questions out there so let me get this out there: the stuff between Tito and me is real, this is no bull----, we're not trying to put on a show," said White. "It's very real and it's going to take Tito and me sitting down in a room and talking and we haven't done that in a long time. Tito and I need to sit down and talk like a couple of adults, which we're not. We need some serious [expletive] counseling. We need to talk to each other and I admit it's hard for both of us."
The only redeeming quality that this WWE-like storyline was the remote possibility that the two would actually step into a ring, an octagon or any other similarly shaped battle surface and settle there differences a la Vince McMahon and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Ortiz's last contract with UFC, which he signed in '06, actually had a clause that the two would square off in a boxing match, but the fight never came to fruition for reasons that the two, not surprisingly, disagree on.
"Dana White as a person is an awesome guy," says Ortiz, of the man that was his manager until White took over the UFC in '01. "Dana White the businessman is an [expletive]. 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."
Ortiz believes White tried to break him two years ago when he backed off a promise to give him a 50-50 cut off their boxing match, as he promised, and proceeded to portray Ortiz as a scared fighter who failed to show up to a nationally televised weigh-in Ortiz never planned to attend.
"Tito Ortiz is full of [expletive]," 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."
While any fight between the 33-year-old Ortiz and the 38-year-old White would be the furthest thing aesthetically from the fights during Saturday's UFC 84, aptly called "Ill Will," it would have at least given this ongoing feud a proper ending in a sport known for resolving feuds in an Octagon, rather than endless conference calls littered with four-letter words.
"Tito Ortiz is a self-centered [expletive]," said White. "Tito really isn't that good. He's not. Tito's 33 now and there's a lot of good fighters out there. He's a lot of hype. He will never hold the light heavyweight championship again."
The options for Ortiz, who will now shift his focus to an upcoming book tour for his recently released autobiography, seem vast despite going winless in his last three matches and not winning a fight since defeating Ken Shamrock in '06, the last year he also headlined a card. The most likely destination would be EliteXC, which has deals with CBS and Showtime, and could offer Ortiz the kind of exposure that he wants and possibly a big name opponent in Kimbo Slice.
"There's so much stuff out there," said Ortiz. "I personally have prevailed through the worst circumstances in life. I came from nothing and became the world champion. I'm the person who tasted dirt and made gold out of it. I've always fought against those who try to keep me down and have always prevailed. I'm not worried. I'll be here for a long time."