While doing the media rounds ahead of his fight against Alberto El Patrón this weekend for Combate Americas’ inaugural PPV, former UFC champ Tito Ortiz continues to unveil new nuggets of life in the fight game and his lengthy career. But a recent piece of news was somewhat unexpected.
In an interview with James Lynch at The Score, Ortiz addressed the situation with former Strikeforce and UFC champion Cris Cyborg, and their unfortunate falling out. Tito revealed that isn’t involved with Cyborg’s management any more. He went even further to definitively state the cause of the rift was largely due to her significant other, Ray Elbe.
While not the most erudite man in MMA, Ortiz was very diplomatic in his phrasing about his account of what happened, citing that he didn’t want Justino to make some of the same errors that plagued his relationship with UFC management - drawing on his own experiences as lessons (transcription courtesy of Steven Rae at TheBodyLockMMA):
“I haven’t worked with Cris Cyborg since before the Amanda fight,” Ortiz said. “Her boyfriend, I guess you can say manager also, made some bad decisions for her and I kind of had to step away.”
“I made a lot of mistakes with the UFC, and I tried to keep her from doing (sic) the same mistakes,” Ortiz said.
“She’s a big girl, and she can make her decisions, but she was making the wrong decisions. Or I could say her boyfriend was making the wrong decisions for her. But that was just my opinion and I wish all the luck to her.
“I tried to give as much as I possibly could to her, but she just was willing to listen to someone else who hasn’t been in the same shoes that I have been in.”
“I guess everyone learns from mistakes, and hopefully, she’ll learn from the mistakes that she’s made and make a positive reinforcement for the future for her.”
From Tito’s statements, it seems like the split may not have been acrimonious - at least as far as him and Cris are concerned. Given his phrasing, he genuinely appears to hope for the best in Justino’s future - but it’s clear that he had enough of butting heads with Elbe.
As most of you will remember, Cyborg was knocked out in a spectacular upset by current dual champ Amanda Nunes last December, and went on to win a unanimous decision against Felicia Spencer his past July. She was then unceremoniously released from the UFC after some regrettable misadventures in social media, but found a new home under old boss Scott Coker over at Bellator.
Cyborg is now slated to immediately fight for the featherweight title against Canada’s Julia Budd at Bellator LA on January 25th. No word on whether or not Ortiz will be present to cheer on his former protégé.