There are few things Tito Ortiz likes better than talking about himself. All you have to do is ask and he’ll tell you all about his tremendous impact on the sport, his extraordinary ability, his legendary cardio — he’ll even start referring to himself in the third person if you’re lucky, which is a classic move for any egomaniac, just ask Rickey Henderson.
But lately Ortiz’s rhetoric seems to be outlandish even by his standards. First there was the “I feel like a slave” remark. Then he told MMA Mania that Georges St. Pierre was “very disgusted” with the UFC, which is kind of uncool if St. Pierre didn’t want that to be made public. But in a recent interview with MMA Madness things got weirder still when Ortiz began talking about his troubles with the UFC and his future outside the organization:
MMA Madness: Have your fans stayed loyal with your impending UFC retirement or have you seen some drop off the bandwagon?
Tito Ortiz: Actually, I’ve seen my fan base increase. They’ve seen the true colors of Dana and they’ve seen that I’m not the only one saying something. Many fighters – Randy [Couture], Tim [Sylvia] – are talking about what Dana has been doing. Fans want to support me no matter where I go.
MMA Madness: Which organizations are you interested in?
Tito Ortiz: Definitely EliteXC. Affliction seems to be building up well. And they just started with DREAM in Japan. Any organization that will respect me and promote me as the champion that I am.
I’m sorry, did he say champion? Of what?
Don’t get me wrong, Ortiz was a great fighter who really helped the UFC through some difficult times. He takes the sport seriously, seems to be a surprisingly successful businessman, and has an uncanny ability to remain relevant in this sport. But a champion he is not.
That’s no criticism of his skills, it’s just a statement of fact. He does not currently hold a championship title in any organization. If he means former champion, fine, he is that. If he’s trying to use the word “champion” as some kind of synonym for “really good” — the way you might refer to your college buddy Moose as a “champion” beer-pong player — fair enough, I’ll even go along with that. But that’s a dangerous game to start playing, for obvious reasons. Next thing you know half the light heavyweight division is referring to themselves as champions and demanding to be treated as such.
Later in the interview, when Ortiz was asked about possible fights once he leaves the UFC, he showed how he’s managed to remain a marketable fighter for as long as he has:
I think Renato “Babalu” Sobral would be a great fight for me and I still think he’s at the top of his game. Frank Shamrock is obviously a fight that people would love to see. You know, I would even move up in weight and take on Kimbo Slice or Fedor Emelianenko.
Ortiz in a rematch with Frank Shamrock would definitely be interesting, and one can only imagine the hypefest leading up to a Ortiz-Kimbo fight. But I’m sorry, Tito, you lost me at Fedor. How about focusing on getting back in the win column first, then taking it one fight at a time after that.