Tito Ortiz. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
During Saturday’s telecast of EliteXC’s “Heat” on CBS, former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz announced that he would be out of action for up to six months because of required back surgery to repair a lingering injury. In a statement issued to MMA Weekly yesterday, Ortiz also stated that his former employer, the UFC, has refused to pay for the surgery in what Tito has referred to as an injury that “obviously happened in their cage”.
“The kicker to this whole story is that the UFC denied my claim for coverage of my debilitating back injury obviously acquired in the Octagon,” Ortiz said. “This was the last kick in the gut made by the UFC. After all of the battling, and allegiance I pledged to them, they now have stooped so low as to not give me the medical care I so desperately needed.”
Now the UFC has responded with an official statement of their own sent out to MMA Weekly as well. The organization claims that it is actually their insurance company and not themselves that are able to make decisions concerning which fighters’ claims are covered.
“It has come to the attention of Zuffa, LLC that Tito Ortiz alleges the UFC denied an insurance claim following the UFC 84 event,” the statement reads. “In light of Mr. Ortiz’ inaccurate statements, Zuffa is compelled to set the record straight. The UFC does not have the authority to deny or approve any insurance claims asserted by UFC athletes. Rather, Zuffa purchases medical insurance coverage for the benefit of fighters at levels significantly higher than those required by state athletic commissions. The decision regarding whether a filed claim is valid and therefore approved is determined exclusively through the standard review process of the insurance company AIG.”
Several fighters that have fought for the UFC have claimed in the past that the organization has helped them out in repairing injuries, although this may now be the work of their insurance companies instead. At the same token, Ortiz isn’t the only one with an injury that won’t be finding help from the UFC. (Mikey Burnett is currently suing the UFC for failure to compensate him for a neck injury suffered while on ‘TUF 4’) If anything, Ortiz’s response should be interesting.
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