Ortiz-White feud comes to an end
LAS VEGAS -- The final chapter in the Tito Ortiz-Dana White feud was completed at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night. Yet as I close the book on one of the most interesting feuds in MMA history, I can't help but feel cheated.
Like a Stephen King book devoid of horror or a J.K. Rowling novel lacking fantasy, this tale always lacked its essential ingredient -- an actual confrontation -- and finished with no resolution and no payoff for fans that have followed the on-going battle between White, the UFC president, and Ortiz, one of the company's biggest stars, for the past five years.
Ortiz's unanimous decision loss to Lyoto Machida was the final fight of his UFC contract, and by all indications it will be his last fight for the company that launched him into superstardom 11 years ago. White has said that he "has no interest whatsoever in being in the Tito Ortiz business," and Ortiz has said that "the door is shut 100 percent" on signing another contract.
In many ways, despite its third-tier billing on a stellar UFC 84 card that featured Wanderlei Silva pummeling Keith Jardine in the first round and B.J. Penn discarding of Sean Sherk in the third round to prove that he's the undisputed UFC lightweight champion, it was the most important fight of Ortiz's career. It was the match that would prove, despite an unimpressive run of performances since 2006 that he was worth the respect that White has failed to give him. That he was worth the big-money contract he always coveted. And prove that he was worthy of such a deal, even if it wasn't with UFC.
His three-round dance with Machida, did nothing to prove White or Ortiz's other critics wrong. If anything, his unanimous 30-27 decision loss pushed him closer to the "washed up" moniker White has given him and guaranteed that he will not be given a deal he deems worthy, whether it be from the UFC or another promotion.
Ortiz, who wore a shirt emblazoned with "Dana Is My Bitch" during Friday's weigh-in, entered the ring to Public Enemy's Fight The Power before slipping into a shirt which said, "I Did It My Way!" on the back. Outside of a late comeback by Ortiz, it was the most excitement he would give to the sell out crowd which chanted his name for the majority of the fight. Ortiz looked lost, slow, frustrated and, really for the first time in his career, old, against Machida, who nearly ended the fight in the first round by dropping Ortiz on his back and unloading on his head before the bell rang, and again in the third when he dropped him with a knee to the liver.
"He actually knocked the wind out of me," said Ortiz, who shrugged his shoulders a blew a kiss to his teary eyed girlfriend, Jenna Jameson, after the fight. "Machida showed that he's a stud. He's very elusive and it was tough to chase him down. He's a great fighter."
It was the result White had been hoping for as he flashed a wide grin and raised his eyebrows at reporters as he walked around the Octagon after the fight.
White says he doesn't need Ortiz. Ortiz says he doesn't need White. And quite frankly, fans don't need to hear the two egomaniacs calling each other the same tired names over and over again.
The most intriguing and entertaining aspect of the feud may have been Ortiz's last appearance in front of a UFC banner. As soon as the pay-per-view ended, Ortiz walked into the press conference room, wearing a black hat, dark sunglasses and took a seat at the podium before being told by the UFC PR staff that he needed to leave since the press conference hadn't started yet.