It sounds like Tito Ortiz might have been gunning for a piece of that Conor McGregor crossover limelight. The former UFC champion turned city councilman last stepped into the cage against disgraced WWE star Alberto El Patron back in December of 2019. That bout was his first for Combate and second since announcing an exceptionally short-lived retirement in 2017.
And while talks of future fights for Ortiz have largely been quiet (owing in part to his newly formed political career), it turns out he almost took a swing at a whole new aspect of combat sports. The former collegiate wrestler, professional wrestler, and longtime MMA fighter was apparently tapped to take his first step into the boxing ring this fall on the undercard of Mike Tyson’s upcoming bout against Roy Jones Jr.
That’s according to the man who was supposed to be Ortiz’s opponent for a planned exhibition fight, former WBC super-middleweight champion and WBA light heavyweight champion Badou Jack. Jack revealed the news in a recent interview with Just Scrap Radio. Unfortunately it sounds like talks broke down pretty early in the negotiation process (transcript via BJPenn.com).
“At first, they were talking about me doing an exhibition boxing match against Tito Ortiz. I was like yeah sure and Ortiz wanted too much money and he didn’t want to fight me so it was scratched,” Jack revealed. “Or, at least that is what I heard. It makes no sense to cut weight for an exhibition, so we then decided to find a cruiserweight and dedicated it to the charity and they found this guy.”
“That was mostly just talks,” Jack continued. “He is a little older and is retired so I’m not sure what happened. I don’t follow MMA and then they said it would be a real fight. I can’t fight an MMA fighter in a boxing match. Unless it is big money. Unless it a huge name and a big money fight then it makes sense. Why would I fight an MMA guy? That is no fair.”
It’s not the first time Ortiz has reportedly bailed on boxing. ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ was infamously once set to throw hands with Dana White after the two men got into an altercation during a flight to Japan. It even got to the point in 2007 where White was supposedly actively training for the bout, before he says that Ortiz backed out.
With the Ortiz fight officially off the table, Jack (22-3-3) is now set to take on 13-0 unbeaten cruiserweight boxer Blake McKernan. The 33-year-old McKernan will be dropping from 200 lbs down to 188 to meet Jack in the light heavyweight division. Jack last fought WBA light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal to a split decision loss on December 28th of last year.
“My team has been telling me that he’s been talking crazy, so I wonder who’s been overlooking who,” Jack said of McKernan during a presser hosted by Ariel Helwani. “And that ‘I haven’t been in the ring with someone like that?’ I, just, c’mon man. I fought 8 world champions back to back, this guy’s a club level fighter.”
In a recent interview with the Sacramento Bee, McKernan made his confidence going into the fight plain and clear.
“It’s not that I can win, I know I’m gonna win,” McKernan said. “I don’t want to say that sounding arrogant, but certain people either fold under pressure, or toe the line and rise to the occasion.”
This kind of trash talk may be all well and good, but as any longtime fight fan can tell you, it’s got nothing on what a prime Tito Ortiz could have brought to the table.
Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. is set to go down as an 8-round exhibition match on November 28th at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA. A cruiserweight bout between YouTube star Jake Paul and former NBA player Nate Robinson is set for the co-main event.