Interview Exclusive: Tito Ortiz, Part II

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

In part 2 of this interview exclusive, former UFC light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz, discusses, self promotion, Cris Cyborg and former opponents.

In case you missed part one of this interview, you can find it here:

This post shall serve as the conclusion of the interview.

Stephie Daniels: You are sort of the godfather of self promotion and fight hype. Chael Sonnen is now setting a good pace with it, and has landed some plum deals with the UFC as a result. How important to an athlete's career do you feel it is to self promote?

Tito Ortiz: I think it's very important. I feel like I kind of walked Chael Sonnen through the things he's done to this point. I pulled him aside and I kind of told him how to do it. He's marketed himself the best I think he could possibly do. He's going to be doing The Ultimate Fighter now, and getting a shot at Jon Jones, after coming off a loss. If it wasn't for his big mouth, he wouldn't be in the situation he's in right now.

I think a lot of fighters need to understand that. Not only do you have to fight great, but you've got to talk smack. Chael may not have fought the best fight his last time out, but he talked his way into a great situation, and as a fighter, you've got to be able to do those things. I wish other fighters would follow in the footsteps of guys like myself and Chael. It puts a smile on my face to see how successful he is today.

Stephie Daniels: Phil Baroni is a good example of a guy that hypes a fight well, and still gets his name out there.

Tito Ortiz: When Baroni came from the New York, he was a Team Punishment member, and I told him, 'It doesn't matter who wins, but when the fight's over, if they still talk about you, then you did your job.' I learned that from Tank Abbott and I think Phil does a good job with it, too.

Stephie Daniels: In your professional opinion, how do you think the fight with Chael and Jones will go?

Tito Ortiz: There's a chance Chael could win. It's a small one, but it's there. Chael's a good cat, and I like him a lot, and I think he's a great fighter, but Jones is just on another level right now. I don't think there's anybody better than Jon. He [Jones] and I have had our words back and forth over the last couple of years, but I respect what he's done, and hope he continues to be successful.

Stephie Daniels: Would you ever consider a role in helping grow the sport alongside The UFC, in a business development aspect, sort of the way Chuck Liddell has been doing?

Tito Ortiz: I absolutely would. Thing is, since I've been retired, I haven't gotten any phone calls from anyone there, not been invited to attend any events, nothing. My door is open to them, though, and I think it would be great to work with them in some capacity.

Stephie Daniels: You've just opened up a management company and signed Cris Cyborg. Who else should we be on the lookout for that you're currently representing?

Tito Ortiz: Yes, Primetime 360 is my new management company, and my partner, George Prajin. We wanted to give fighters the opportunity to become brands, themselves. We want to show these athletes the right steps to take for their careers. We've been open for six months now, and Cris Cyborg is currently our biggest name. We also have Brazilian fighter, Ricardo Abreu, who's 4-0 right now and also one of my jiu jitsu coaches and trainers at Punishment Training Center. We also have Robe Emerson, who's a former UFC 155er, down to 145 now and on a 4-0 win streak. I don't want to sign just anybody. I want good talent, people that want to work hard and want to think outside the box.

Stephie Daniels: If and when Cyborg makes the cut down to 135, are their any fighters out there you would like to see her matched up against in her first fight out?

Tito Ortiz: I haven't really sat down and looked at the girls at 135. I know there's Miesha Tate, who is really good, but I think I have to sit down and make the right decision for Cris to get a good warm-up fight. She's been out for almost a year and a half now, and I want to make sure she's booked the right way. Throughout my career, I just took fights no matter what. I just stepped up and fought whoever, and I made mistakes in doing that. Maybe I should have picked my opponents a little better. I was never one to pick and choose, though. They would see 'This is your opponent', and I was like, 'OK, let's go.'

As a manager, I need to steer their careers in the right way. I know Cris Cyborg will fight anybody, any time, anywhere, but I need to make sure I make the right choices for her future. The biggest challenge for her right now, is to get her down to 135. Her walking around weight is about 160, so we need to see if she can make that cut safely.The UFC is definitely where the best challenge is, with Ronda Rousey, but I want to see Cris go about this the right way. The ball is in their court, but if we can't come to a meeting of the minds on it, we'll definitely take her talents somewhere else. If the UFC can agree to our conditions, we might get to see a fight with her and Ronda before 2013 is over.

Stephie Daniels: Considering the amount of hand breaks in the sport, what are your thoughts on the current gloves used for MMA? Do you feel they're adequate, or should they be changed in some way?

Tito Ortiz: I think the gloves are fine. I think it all comes down to the people that are wrapping the hands. Are they wrapping them loose or are they wrapping them tight? When I wrap my hands, I wrap them super tight, so there's no opportunity for any bone fractures to happen. I really do think the gloves are perfect, and that the guilt lies with the guys that are wrapping the hands.

Stephie Daniels: Who wrapped your hands?

Tito Ortiz: For the last five years, I've wrapped my own hands, and prior to that, Colin Oyama wrapped them. He did it Muay Thai style, and I stuck to it, and never really had any problems with my hands.

Stephie Daniels: For a long time, you out-wrestled every fighter you faced, and even Matyushenko had no answer for you. What were your thoughts when Randy Couture came along?

Tito Ortiz: I thought he was the older man, and with me being the young guy, I would be at the greater advantage because of my youth. In wrestling, it's not about youth, it's about the mat time you've had, and Couture had been wrestling longer than I'd been alive. I overlooked him. He was a great champion who beat me. I didn't respect him at the time, and that was my fault. I made a lot of mistakes and got out-wrestled. Randy is a great dude. I like him a lot. I've liked him since day one, and he's always been one of my favorites. I've always looked up to him.

Stephie Daniels: How does it feel to know that you inspired so many people to not only watch MMA, but to train and compete, as well?

Tito Ortiz: I've always wanted to show what hard work and dedication can achieve. I think I've shown that throughout my career. I never really wanted to be a role model, because I made so many bad decisions in my life. I've made good ones, but not in the beginning. I like the idea of being an inspiration, though, to get people to watch and participate. I've tried to help as many as I can along the way, and I'll continue to do that. I had three possible outcomes. Dead, in prison or where I am right now. I'm so thankful to be where I am right now, and to have been able to start changing those bad decisions and making the right ones. I might have inspired some, but my fans have inspired me, and I continue to try to do positive things because of it.

Stephie Daniels: Compare stepping into the cage for the very first time and the very last time.

Tito Ortiz: The very first time was all about fear and uncertainty. My foremost thought was really about protecting myself in there. The very last time was all about confidence, and just letting it all hang out in there. Swinging for the fences and trying to dominate were really the biggest things in my mind then. I just wanted to put on the best show I possibly could. I think both those fights, I did that, and when I look back, I feel that I competed well over my career.

You can follow Tito via his Twitter account, @TitoOrtiz

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