The feud between UFC president Dana White and former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz has run on for over a decade, and despite brief respites here and there, looks like it still has a little steam behind it. Once upon a time, the two were even going to have a public boxing match to squash the growing hostility and get back on more congenial footing. The bout was called off at the last minute with both sides saying the other dodged the opportunity to square up.
That “never fought” narrative changed this past week when White was a guest on Conan O’Brien’s late night talk show. El Presidente told Conan that he and Ortiz had indeed scrapped, albeit not in a professional arena. (Transcription courtesy of FOX Sports)
“We were gonna fight one time in a boxing match but I actually never told this story publicly before but we were on a private plane on our way to Japan and it was my partners, the Fertitta brothers, myself, Tito Ortiz and our matchmaker at the time, Joe Silva. Tito and I were messing around and he put me in what’s called a neck crank,” White explained when speaking to Conan O’Brien. “I was tapping and he didn’t stop. You can seriously hurt somebody in a neck crank, especially as big and strong as Tito is.
“So I just started blasting him in the ribs, started punching him in the ribs and when he let go [I] just jumped up and it was just a full blown fist fight in the plane.”
The always loquacious UFC boss described how both Fertitta brothers had to intervene to get the two separated.
“We were literally taking off and the plane was [wobbling] and the Fertitta brothers had to jump in and break up the fight,” White said. “So then I sat on the front of the plane, he sat in the back of the plane the rest of the flight.”
We’re unclear when this mysterious flight to Japan would have happened, but it sounds like White had plenty of action. Not even his mid-air run-in with Mike Tyson was as volatile as this.
It should also be noted that this is not the first time Dana has mentioned getting physical with Tito. During a 2014 Q&A session, he talked about how he used to “beat the living shit out of Tito,” so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that he would discuss further instances of flying fists. What is surprising is that he sat on this incident for so long.