Report: Affliction Signs Tito Ortiz

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Sports Illustrated gets the scoop:

"I guarantee you that my contract will be like no other," said Ortiz, stopping short of giving away the specifics of a deal that could include responsibilities outside of the ring. "It will be a ground-breaking record contract for sure, without a doubt. There's so much money to be made right now in mixed martial arts and it's all about the fighters trying to make that money. It's going to be a long-term deal where I put my heart and soul into the company and help build them. That's something I'm interested in doing. They're going to bring me on, not just as a fighter but also doing some of the back work also."

Ortiz, who became a free agent on Monday after an 11-year career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, met with Donald Trump on Tuesday to finalize the deal and is expected to be at Wednesday's press conference where his first opponent will be Renato "Babalu" Sobral.

"Babalu has been in my crosshairs," Ortiz said. "He's already been talking smack, saying if he sees me he's going to kick my ass, but right on if he keeps thinking that. He'll get his face caved in sooner or later. I know Frank Shamrock is another person who's been opening up his mouth. He beat me the last time we fought and I think that would be a great revenge fight where I kick his ass and finally shut him up. As time goes we'll see who Affliction signs besides me. I don't know. I might even go up to heavyweight if the bigger pay days are there."

...

"Mr. Trump works fast and gets busy in a lot of the things he does and he's going to give me the best deal possible," said Ortiz. "I know they want to make some money and I know they got over 100,000 pay-per-view buys on their first show and with me it's guaranteed to be over 500,000 pay-per-view buys just by the number of fans that are going to follow me no matter where I go so they're going to get there money's worth just in pay-per-view no matter what."

While I think Ortiz is exaggerating his effect, this is an interesting moment in MMA. We now officially have billion dollar companies and entrepreneurs bidding on the sport's most well-known fighters.

It's yet to be seen what sort of contract Ortiz can pull, but the lingering question here is what impact this will have on Affliction's second show. Without exaggeration, Ortiz can ask for enough to break the bank in terms of the second Affliction show being profitable or breaking even.

The fact is Donald Trump needs to use whatever contacts he allegedly has and find Affliction some sort of television deal. It takes two fighters to sell an event and I'm not sure Babalu is enough of a foil for Ortiz. A television deal could assuage this problem and give Affliction's MMA efforts some brand identity and loyalty.

Let the games begin.

UPDATE: There's another issue, namely, who Ortiz is going to fight. While there are probably decent tests for Ortiz in terms of capable or interesting challengers, it's hard to think of who Ortiz can fight down the road who has some "name" behind him to help sell the fight. Just look at our most recent light heavyweight meta-rankings. Affliction is going to have to do some acquiring just to find people to get in the ring with Ortiz. Or, more interestingly, Ortiz is going to have to consider a weight class change.

The plot thickens.

UPDATE II: SI has changed the title of the article from "Tito Ortiz signs with Affliction" to "Tito Ortiz nears deal with Affliction". I can't imagine him signing with any rival brand given his lavish praise of Trump, but for the record it appears matters are not 100% finalized.

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