This past weekend saw Jon Jones win another fight in wildly impressive fashion, setting scores of records and wowing fans. Amid the celebration going on across the FOX network in the wake of the live event, a very important name was omitted from the LHW history books, Tito Ortiz. Whether intentional or mere oversight, it did not sit well with the fans, and as of this writing, has not been rectified.
The friction between the UFC and Ortiz is almost a palpable entity, and appears to be growing constantly, as evidenced by organization president, Dana White's recent Twitter interaction with a fan where he declared he would "easily" beat Tito in a boxing match. The recent digs from White at Cris "Cyborg" Justino have also added to the hostile atmosphere.
In a recent interview with Bloody Elbow, Tito gave his thoughts on a variety of topics including the UFC's revisionist history, thoughts on Jon Jones, Dana White, and plans for the future. Here's what the former champion had to say:
How do you feel about the UFC's recent oversight/omission of your name from the record books regarding the LHW division's history?
I feel really bad for my fans and my kids. They will want to look at the history of what their father has done, and the fans will want to see what their favorite fighter has done. I have no control over it, of course, and I didn't know it was that serious, but I guess I've got to read between the lines and that's the way they feel.
I'm baffled by it. I can't believe they would do this after I gave my life and soul to them for 15 years. I thought they'd have at least a little respect for me. I'm not their fighter anymore, so they just swept me under the rug. I won't sit here and complain about it though, because I did what I wanted to do on my own terms. I never lived on my knees with them. I went out on my feet and I'm still here, doing what I love.
What's your take on Jon Jones?
I'm a huge fan of this guy. He's a great champion, and I believe he is one of the greatest ever. When I watch him fight, I feel like I'm watching an artist paint a canvas. If you compared the colors in the palette to his weapons, and he's got plenty of them, he creates a masterpiece every time. I really like watching him fight. I have never seen somebody put their palms on someone's head and mark where they're going to put their elbow.
The fight he put on Saturday night was just amazing. I'm so glad I bought the PPV, even though it might be the last time I ever buy one. He does things that no one has ever seen before. No one from my time or any other time has ever dominated like that, and I think he'll go down as one of the best ever.
Dana White recently tweeted that he would still "easily" beat you in a straight up boxing match. What's your take on that?
@FataL_Tito fuck that shit!!! I'm straight up about that, Tito would kill me in a grappling/MMA fight. I will Box Tito and win EASILY.— Dana White (@danawhite) April 28, 2014
Maybe the steroids are getting to his head, I don't know. Maybe from the first time we sparred, back in 2001, when I first started boxing, he thought we had good matches. Now, 13 years later, he thinks he could actually beat me, but hey, he's confident and you can't knock a guy for that. To me, he's just trying to build his name tougher and bigger than it really is.
Ken Shamrock recently said in an interview that he felt Dana White was trying to become a bigger name than the fighters. Do you agree with that theory?
I think what it is all comes down to them not wanting any of their fighters to outshine the UFC name or Dana himself. This all started back when they were setting me and Dana up for that boxing match. They painted him as this bad man that boxed all the time and rode around in his private jet. They made him out like he was one of the baddest guys on the planet, and I think what Ken is saying is right on the money.
Do you feel that Dana made you a scapegoat to keep Cris Cyborg out of the UFC?
That's exactly what happened. He said I was holding her back, so I sat down with her immediately to let her know I was going to step down so that she could pursue her dreams. So I did exactly what he wanted, and then the argument becomes, ‘Oh their camp says she can't get to 135.' Now it's, ‘She's all roided up."
The way he's attacked her...I just don't understand how he can get away with it. Look in the mirror, man. I remember when you were 185 pounds. Now he's 245, the pot calling the kettle black. Cris is a great fighter and Ronda's running away and talking shit because she has her boyfriend, Dana protecting her.
You wrestled at Cal Bakersfield with 2 time NCAA Champion heavyweight Steven Neal, who won a freestyle world championship immediately after college and then, after having never played football, had a long career with the New England Patriots where he won a couple superbowls. Stephen is widely regarded as perhaps the most athletic big man wrestler in American history (beat Lesnar in the finals as a senior). In your opinion, how would he have done in MMA?
[Laughs] I tried to get Stephen into MMA all the time. I tried so hard, but he always said that his parents wouldn't let him do it. Back in the day, we rolled some jiu-jitsu too, and I could never catch him with any submissions. I know he was the bigger guy, but not by much. I was about 225 at the time, and he was probably 245. I would catch him in a triangle and he would get out of it. You put an armbar on him, he would escape.
He was a natural athlete, and that's why he was able to walk on with the Patriots and become a part of that championship team. I think he would have been one of the best ever, had he come to MMA. I'm very proud to say that I was one of his wrestling partners.
Being at Bellator now, are there any fighters that catch your eye as possibly being the next big thing?
There's this kid I've been training with for the last 4 or 5 days, Brennan Ward, and he's really, really good. He's strong, has a great wrestling base, great boxing and solid jiu-jitsu. He's tough and has surprised me with how good his technique is. He's fighting at 185, but I think he could make 170, for sure. I think he has a great future ahead of him.
Is Shlemenko more than just an opportunity to get back in the cage, and do you have a plan beyond this fight?
My whole career, I always fought the guys with great records. Shlemenko just fills that void for the promoters. They're once again putting me in with one of the best. He's 50-7 and hugely talented. He's the champ. Not many people seem to think so, but I believe I can beat him. He doesn't realize it yet, but I'm a very bad match-up for him. I'll be ready and I'm excited to get back in there again.
I'm actually having fun in training, which hasn't been the case in a long time. I'm wrestling again, and my body feels great. My neck and my back feel healthy. I'm running 3 miles a day and my knee isn't giving me any problems.
I remember when Couture came back at 39 and went on a tear. I plan on walking in those same footsteps. I'm going on my 17th year of competition and I'm feeling strong. I believe I'm unbreakable, and I want to give my fans a couple more years. I guarantee I have 4 fights left in me. We'll see what happens after that.