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Dana's Biggest Mistake of 2007

I've defended Dana White a lot of late from what I thought were unfair criticisms. However, the one business decision he made in 2007 that hurt the UFC the most was the one he did purely out of spite:  The demotion of Tito Ortiz.  He may not be popular among the hardcores online, but about a year ago Tito was the biggest draw in the UFC.

When Tito Ortiz returned to the UFC and fought Forrest Griffin, the show broke the UFC PPV record set two months earlier by Liddell/Couture 3.  Months later, when he fought Ken Shamrock in July, following TUF 3, the fight once again broke the UFC PPV record.  Two months later he fought Ken Shamrock on free TV, and set a TV ratings record in the main event that still stands today.  Finally, 2 months later, he set yet another all time UFC PPV record with his title fight against Chuck Liddell.  Instead of continuing to promote their top draw, the UFC basically ignored him for 7 months, and then stuck him in the middle of a card with a fight with Rashad Evans, which was only made so Tito would lose.

At Arco that night, it was pretty obvious who the star of the show was.  Tito Ortiz was a giant among men.  Even in a draw, people knew who won.  Now, as we go into 2008, nobody really knows what the hell is going on with him, or when we'll see him again. It's heavily rumored now that Nogueira/Sylvia has been signed for February, because they couldn't work things out with Couture.  If this is true, they've lost a huge drawing card, but they have a guy waiting in the wings who can make up for any losses.  Quinton Jackson v. Tito Ortiz at the end of 2008 has the potential to be the biggest MMA fight ever.  It's just a matter of whether Dana will put animosity aside and do what is right for business.  If he can't, UFC may find itself stalling out this year.

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