Tito Ortiz

White Attempting to Fix Things With Couture?

Dana White. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

While it’s pretty easy to assume that the current relationship between UFC President Dana White and his reigning heavyweight champion, Randy Couture, might be a little rocky considering White’s company filed a defamation suit against Couture earlier this year, things might be starting to get a little better between the two.

White was a guest this morning on CBS and XM Satellite Radio’s “Opie and Anthony Show” (audio here) where he talked about a variety of topics, including his current situation with Couture. As he’s done all throughout the past eight months since Couture formally resigned from the promotion, White had nothing but good things to say about the UFC Hall-of-Famer.

“I have nothing but respect for Randy Couture,” White said on the program. “This guy is a real fighter and he’s always fought the best fighters in the world. So whatever his reasoning his for wanting to sit out for the remainder of this thing, I want Randy Couture back in the UFC. I want him to be a part of this thing for the rest of his life and I’m trying to work that out with Randy right now so we’ll see what happens.”

Whether or not White and Couture are really trying to work something out remains to be seen, but this is the first time in quite a while that White has even mentioned anything related to an attempt to patch things up with Couture.

White also discussed his attempts to sign former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko, widely considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. While one of Couture’s main reasons for leaving the UFC was White’s inability to sign Emelianenko, he noted that his attempts were not made in vain.

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Polar Opposition

Photo courtesy of TitoOrtiz.com.

When Tito Ortiz and Lyoto Machida step into the Octagon Saturday night in Las Vegas, the audience around the world will see two completely different fighters standing across from each other.

They come from opposite ends of the spectrum, from opposite sides of the world. Their styles aren’t the same. One likes to talk trash, one likes to keep quiet. They had different upbringings. Ortiz and Machida are complete opposites.

“I’m Brazilian but my way of thinking is Japanese,” Machida said when talking about his early martial arts training with his father. “I started karate when I was four years old with my father. My father always tells me that I have Samurai blood. That I must be fight and keep strong. He’s always teaching me that in life, I have to do things by myself. I try to be somebody but it’s very difficult. Everyday when I wake up, I think that I have to live a Samurai-style kind of life but it’s difficult. You have to be honest. You have to be real.”

Ortiz wasn’t as fortunate growing up.

“I remember being a young kid growing up on the street. I was using drugs, all my friends were using drugs, and I never had any self-worth,” Ortiz said. “My parents were drug addicts and I realized that I could be in their shoes one day. I saw guys like Hulk Hogan and Muhammad Ali and I told myself that I wanted to be like those guys. I wanted to have that flamboyancy, I wanted to have that star power.”

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Countdown to UFC 84 Airs Tonight

“Countdown to UFC 84”, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s usual event preview show, will premiere tonight at 11 PM ET on Spike TV.

The episode will highlight two of the more-anticipated bouts that will take place at this weekend’s UFC 84: Ill Will in Las Vegas. The event will be headlined by a bad blood-filled UFC lightweight title bout that pits current champion B.J. Penn up against former champion Sean Sherk.

Keith Jardine will also attempt to climb deeper into the light heavyweight title picture as he takes on fellow exciting striker and former PRIDE light heavyweight champion Wanderlei Silva. While it won’t be featured on tonight’s program, former longtime UFC champion Tito Ortiz will go up against an undefeated Lyoto Machida in a fight that will likely be Ortiz’s last with the promotion.

Those who miss tonight’s show at 11 PM ET can catch a replay at the following times: May 23rd (11 PM ET, 12 AM ET); May 24th (6 PM ET). Both replays will air on Spike TV.

Penn, Sherk Continue War of Words

B.J. Penn. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The war of words between UFC lightweight kings B.J. Penn and Sean Sherk raged on yesterday, a little over a week until their highly anticipated showdown that will decide the organization’s true lightweight champion in Las Vegas.

Even before the bout was officially signed, Penn has been adamant about blasting Sherk with every chance he gets concerning Sherk’s failed steroids test last year under the watch of the California State Athletic Commission, a ruling that the Minnesota native still feels is wrong to this day.

“It’s hard for me, being a guy that’s never used performance enhancing drugs,” Penn said on yesterday’s pre-fight conference call for UFC 84: Ill Will. “You wake up every day after training tired and in pain and it kind of gets to you when you learn that someone is taking those kind of things. I’m a purist and I love this sport more than anythning. When someone goes ahead and perverts a sport as pure as this, I can’t take it.”

Even though the two both agreed that the conclusion of the fight would most likely result in the end of the bad blood and hard-feelings, Penn continued to push Sherk’s button as the call went on, even going as far as asking the former champion himself about his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, prompting Sherk to strike back.

“I know what I did and I know what I didn’t do,” Sherk said. “I went above and beyond what I had to do in order to try and prove that I was innocent. Anyone that has followed the case and what I’ve had gone through will know that I didn’t do what they said I did.”

“I have fans who stand by me and who believe that I didn’t take steroids,” continued Sherk. “Then there are those who will think a certain way because of the way I look. I’ve looked the same for the past 10 years. Shit, I’ve apparently been doing steroids and I’ve been able to drop down to 155 lbs. Amazing, isn’t it?”

Moderating the banter was UFC President Dana White. While White was hesitant to give a definite opinion on the situation involving Sherk, he also stated that he can’t complain about the amount of animosity between the two.

“I’ve known Sean Sherk for a long time. I respect him as an athlete and as a man,” White said. “B.J. has his opinions of Sean and he’s going to let you know what they are. This happens sometimes. One of the cool things about this sport is the sportsmanship and everything else. But you know sometimes guys just rub each other the wrong way and it happens. Everything I just said about the two best fighters in the world facing each other in their prime, it doesn’t suck when they hate each other either.”

Additional conference call notes from yesterday are after the jump.

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Shaw Interested in Bringing Ortiz to EliteXC

Photo courtesy of TitoOrtiz.com.

With his days as a featured fighter with the Ultimate Fighting Championship coming to an end, Tito Ortiz, the one-time face of the organization, has mentioned that he’d like to take his services elsewhere following his upcoming fight against Lyoto Machida on May 24th.

One of the organizations in which Ortiz has expressed interest in Elite Xtreme Combat, headed by former boxing promoter Gary Shaw. Brash and out-spoken, Shaw is no stranger to giving his opinion when asked by the media and didn’t shy away earlier today when the potential of Ortiz shifting his career to EliteXC was brought up.

“In all my years in the fight game, I can see, touch, feel a superstar,” Shaw said this afternoon on a conference call promoting EliteXC’s network television debut on CBS later this month. “Everytime I see Tito Ortiz, he reeks of stardom. I think when his days in the UFC are over, that I can reincarnate him. Could you imagine Tito and Kimbo Slice in the cage together? I hope when his contract with the UFC is up that he will not be sitting across the table with me, but sitting with me at that table.”

“Please tell Tito that our door is wide open for him,” Shaw continued. “When his deal with the UFC is up, I’d love to talk with him and figure things out.”

Ortiz’s falling out with the UFC stems from his rocky relationship with the promotion’s figurehead, Dana White. The two have been at each other’s throats for years but things took a major turn for the worst after a proposed exhibition boxing match between the two fell apart and White opted to begin his verbal bashing of Ortiz in the media.

Ortiz has since stated multiple times that his fight against Machida will be his last with the UFC. (His current contract with the promotion ends this summer) Reasons for his departure circulate solely around White and his negative treatment of Ortiz as well as other contracted fighters on the organization’s roster.

Shaw mentioned that Ortiz wouldn’t have to worry about any kind of lack of respect from himself or others in the organization if he decided to sign with EliteXC.

“All of our fighters can attest to this, but we here at EliteXC put the fighters first,” Shaw said. “Our fighters are of the utmost importance to us. They come before the organization. The spotlight should be put on them. We treat everyone with respect and like they are a champion, regardless of who they are. Tito wouldn’t have to worry about that sort of thing if he decided to take his services to our camp.”

Additional conference call notes from today are after the jump.

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Report: Ortiz Tried to Hire Belfort as Training Partner

Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

In an attempt to gain an advantage going into his May showdown against undefeated Lyoto Machida, former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz reportedly tried to hire fellow former champion and rival Vitor Belfort to help him prepare for Machida.

The news comes from an article on Brazilian magazine website Tatame.

According to Belfort, Ortiz offered him a good amount of money to go over to the United States and help him train. However it was an offer that Belfort turned down.

“Tito wanted to hire with me with a lot of money but I said no,” Belfort said in the report. “I said that money can’t buy everything. I respect Lyoto a lot, we trained together and he is Brazilian. I thanked Tito and said that maybe another time, but not now.”

With Machida being a past training partner of Belfort, it seems logical for him to shoot down Ortiz’s offer. However Vitor’s reasoning might go a little further than that. After all, one of his main reasons in meeting with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva back in December was to try and set up a potential rematch with Ortiz.

End of an Era?

Photo courtesy of TitoOrtiz.com

It depends which way you look at the situation, but when it comes to Tito Ortiz and his career-long relationship with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it’s becoming more and more evident that the end is nearing.

May 24th could end up marking the first time since Ortiz stopped Jerry Bohlander with strikes at UFC 18 in January 1999 that “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” will not be fighting in a main event or co-main event at a UFC show, ending a consecutive streak of seventeen events.

Like I said, it depends on which way you look at things. The way the UFC is currently marketing the event, Ortiz’s fight is being advertised as being on the main card, but is currently a rung on the ladder below Wanderlei Silva clashing with Keith Jardine, the first time that has happened in nine years. The UFC’s official website even has the fight listed below Goran Reljic’s debut against Wilson Gouveia.

While Ortiz’s upcoming fight with Machida has been shown as being featured on the UFC 84 promo that will air on television in the coming weeks, the UFC also did the same thing with Jon Fitch. His fight against Team Quest product Chris Wilson ended up starting off the PPV broadcast of UFC 82: Pride of a Champion earlier this month.

Granted the UFC also likely wanted to give Fitch some exposure with a title shot nearing as well.

Even though Ortiz will become a free agent after the fight, the UFC is neglecting to give him the Andrei Arlovski treatment by refusing to relegate him to the undercard. Yes, Arlovski’s last two wins prior to his stoppage of Jake O’Brien were rather lackluster, but Ortiz’s draw against Rashad Evans wasn’t very eventful and he hasn’t defeated a quality opponent since Forrest Griffin in April 2006.

Still, five years after he last held the UFC light heavyweight title, Ortiz remains one of the company’s biggest draws, bigger than Arlovski. The UFC certainly realizes it, thus why they are putting Ortiz’s popularity to use for their own benefit.

They also have the possibility of Ortiz losing, sending him packing on a bad note and giving Machida a huge win in front of the world, a potential win-win situation for Dana White and company.

It’s still early however and it will be interesting to see if Ortiz becomes a larger factor into the UFC’s marketing of “Ill Will”. Regardless, it’s becoming visibly apparent that the UFC is beginning to prepare for life without Tito Ortiz.

So You Want to Fight?

We get a lot of emails from people looking for a fight.  We’re not promoters, but get so many requests we think about getting into the biz.  For now, we’ll just stick to reporting on the sport…

So we thought we’d post about casting for a show hosted by Tito Ortiz called Settle the Score: UFC Style.

The concept seems pretty simple: if you’re pissed at someone, fight it out.  Each person booked on the show gets a grand.

I’m thinking The People’s Court meets Jerry Springer with no security.

UFC Announces Three Fights for “Ill Will”

The Ultimate Fighting Championship today announced three main card fights for UFC 84: Ill Will, which will take place on May 24th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The event will be headlined by a bad blood-filled UFC lightweight title bout that pits current champion B.J. Penn up against former champion Sean Sherk.

Penn claimed the vacant title with a bloody submission win over top contender Joe Stevenson last month at UFC 80: Rapid Fire. Penn has been vehement in his comments towards Sherk, who after successfully defending his belt against Hermes Franca last July, tested positive for steroids under the watch of the California State Athletic Commission and was stripped of his title.

The two exchanged barbs following Penn’s title win in January.

“Hey Sean Sherk, you’re dead,” Penn shouted during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.

Sherk, who was cage-side doing color commentary on the bout along with Rogan and UFC play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg, stormed into the Octagon and picked up a microphone right after Penn made his comment.

“That belt belongs to me,” said Sherk. “You’ve got one more fight before you can be called lightweight champ.”

Former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz will go up against an undefeated Lyoto Machida in a fight that will likely be Ortiz’s last with the UFC. The bout will be the final one on Ortiz’s current contract with the promotion.

According to Ortiz, he was expecting a rematch against former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Rashad Evans, whom Ortiz battled to a draw with at UFC 73: Stacked last summer in his last fight. Machida has yet to lose inside the confines of the UFC. He was last seen submitting Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in December.

A showdown between former PRIDE light heavyweight champion Wanderlei Silva and former “Ultimate Fighter” contestant turned upstart contender Keith Jardine will also take place at the event. A bout between the two was rumored for well over a month.

The reasoning behind the bout is pretty much elementary at this point. After the UFC booked Rashad Evans and Ryoto Machida for scheduled bouts at the same event, it became likely that Silva and Jardine would be paired up. Both Silva and Jardine are coming off of fights against former champion Chuck Liddell. Jardine won a unanimous decision over Liddell last September but Silva ended up going the distance with Liddell in December and losing.

The bout will be Silva’s second inside the confines of the UFC since returning to the promotion after a seven-year stint in PRIDE. A win over Silva will move Jardine that much closer to a well-deserved title shot.

What’s Happened Lately?

As I’m sure regular visitors to this site have noticed, we haven’t had many updates since Saturday afternoon. A combination of David moving, others not being around, and myself coming down with the flu attributed to that. However fear not as we’re back in business. So here’s us playing catch-up once again, hopefully for the last time in a long time.

UFC 81 Generates Approximately 650,000 Buys

UFC 81: Breaking Point, which featured Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeating former two-time champion Tim Sylvia to win the interim UFC heavyweight belt and fellow former heavyweight title holder Frank Mir submitting one-time professional wrestler and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar, generated close to 650,000 PPV buys according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer.

In my interview at Jarry Park leading up to UFC 81, I mentioned that the UFC would likely be pleased with the amount of buys the event would generate, mostly because of the mainstream popularity of Lesnar from his various ventures in professional sports. It turns out UFC 81 will now rank as the third-highest-grossing event in UFC history.

Future Fights Galore!

A good amount of upcoming fights have been revealed over the past few days. Lightweights Jeremy Stephens and Terry Etim will meet at UFC 84 in May according to MMA Junkie, who confirmed that both fighters have agreed to sign bout agreements. Five Ounces of Pain has learned that Doug Evans has been released from the UFC and has signed on with EliteXC, who will pit him against Wilson Reis in his debut in April.

Gracie Fighter has announced that Nate Diaz has been added to UFC Fight Night 13 on April 2nd, making that an unheard of eleven total fights on that card. MMA Junkie says that he’s expected to face Kurt Pellegrino. Major props are in order to our friends at Fightlinker, who have reportedly successfully petitioned to have Spike TV increase the broadcast time of the event from two hours to three.

Nick Diaz will return to action against Muhsin Corbbrey according to Five Ounces of Pain. Don’t believe what “Babalu” says, Tito Ortiz-Ryoto Machida is still on according to Ed Soares, who serves as Machida’s manager. Chris Fries of TAGG Radio’s Lights Out Show confirmed that the fight was still a go with Soares earlier today.

More Randomness

Wanderlei Silva says that he would consider a drop down to middleweight in order to rematch Dan Henderson. Denis Kang tells The Fight Network that he will participate in DREAM’s middleweight grand prix in April. Gracie Mag has details about the first toxicology report released concerning Ryan Gracie’s death. Paul Buentello tells MMA Weekly that he wants Kimbo Slice.

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