Tito Ortiz has somehow lodged himself firmly at the center of the Ronda Rousey vs Cyborg Santos discussion, constantly stating that Cyborg is unlikely to be able to safely cut to 135 pounds. That inability to cut weight is one of the topics that came up yesterday when Ortiz was on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.
Here's what Tito had to say to Ariel:
"Working with Cyborg is challenging. The girl wants to fight, of course, but it's just a question with her getting down to 145 [pounds]. She really feels it's impossible. She walks around 160, 165, and to make 145 for all the years she's done it, she's like, ‘Tito, it really takes the last energy just for me to make 145. Now they want me to cut down to 135? It's going to be really, really, almost impossible.' I battle back and forth with her, telling her how the UFC is going to take care of her, this and that. We're still just ... we're at the end of the rope, I think. I'm not sure if she wants to do it. Me and my partner, George Prajin, we just sit there and we just try to talk to her over and over again.
"Will she make 135? As a person who has cut weight for 22 years: no, I don't think it's going to happen. It's hard for women to cut that much weight. For a woman to be three-percent body fat, it's not healthy. She talks about that she wants to have kids some day. Things like that can damage her [in that regard], and a lot of people don't understand that..."
Tito went on to say that he doesn't feel that Ronda "hasn't proven anything yet."
Later in the discussion, Tito was asked if there was any chance of coming out of retirement and he dropped some interesting information about an insurance claim that was denied by the UFC:
"I'm not coming back, man. Neck surgery, I just got through five weeks ago. I'm still recovering from it. It's difficult, it's hard. The pain hurts still. Not like it was before, of course, so now I'm just kind of waiting for UFC insurance to take care of it. First they said yes, then they denied it, and so, I don't know. I'm kind of just waiting, just sitting in limbo on a bill that was supposed to be taken care of. I thought UFC insurance took care of us fighters, if we fought and got injured during the fight, and almost comes to find out, [it's] not. I'm second guessing, wow, is this really happening right now. Hopefully it's a dream.
"I'm not 100-percent sure [how much the bill is for]. I think it's something like $90,000. They denied the claim, so I'm just waiting. I don't know, Dana said he'll take care of it, so Dana is a man of his word. Hopefully it'll just take a little time for them to make it happen."
This isn't the first time we've heard these stories. Jason Miller discussed a similar situation last year where he claimed the UFC wouldn't pay for his knee surgery. A situation which led to some questionable behavior on the UFC's part as Dana White made an e-mail from their medical claims manager public covering what treatment and actions Miller had undergone to that point, a move which fell into a sort of grey area in terms of HIPAA compliance.
This led into a discussion with Tito over the idea of a fighter union and if he would be interested in being involved with the establishment of one:
"I really don't think so, just because the UFC doesn't want it to happen. Dana doesn't want it to happen. And if I do it, then it becomes, ‘Here we go, Tito is trying to destroy the UFC again.'
"Yes [the fighters need it], so you wouldn't have to worry about denying a claim on their insurance. That's maybe just the tip of some of the things. There's a lot of things that fighters go through right now that they're afraid to say something. But it is what it is.
"It's never going to happen. When we were all at the highest part of our careers, we could have done it. I was the only person saying something, B.J. Penn was the only person saying something, and everybody else just kept hush-hush."