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Tito Ortiz: “I Feel Like a Slave”

(This is what an unhappy millionaire looks like.)

Tito Ortiz has been a vocal critic of both Dana White and the UFC payscale for much of his MMA career, so it only makes sense that he would combine his two favorite topics as the last fight on his current contract draws near. A recent video from Throwdown features Ortiz with some incendiary rhetoric and fuzzy logic as he rails against the UFC and his former manager:

“Back then [Dana White] used to fight for things that I believe in. He fought for me to get paid more money…He was the guy battling for me. Now I’m battling against him. I’m not asking the fans for more money. I’m not asking you guys for more money. I’m asking the company that you guys pay for more money.

We’re the modern day gladiators, and we’re getting treated like gladiators…those guys were slaves. I feel like a slave. Yeah, I get paid a little money, but these guys are keeping the big revenue.”

This has become a popular line of reasoning among pro athletes in recent years. Because they only make a portion of the total revenue, the thinking goes, they are being used and exploited, much like slaves. Of course, slaves made no money and were not free to quit when they felt like it. So, yeah, there are some holes in that logic.

It also ignores the fact that while the organization is keeping most of the profit, they’re also incurring all the financial risk and paying all the promotional and marketing costs. That’s not to say fighters don’t have a gripe when it comes to pay, but that doesn’t mean that the economics of fight promotion are as simple as the fighters getting one percent while Dana White and the Fertittas pocket the other ninety-nine, as Ortiz implies.

Ortiz claims that he made $8 million in eleven years as an MMA fighter, a figure which he finds unsatisfactory. He also points out that he had to pay taxes on that money, as if that somehow makes him different from the rest of working America.

Lest you think he’s just greedy, Ortiz goes on to explain why he’s been so public and so persistent with his complaints.

“It always comes down to, ‘Oh, Tito’s talking about money again.’ Yeah, because no one else will fucking speak up. Speak up and speak your mind. Fight to be a fighter. If it wasn’t for me speaking up, Chuck Liddell would never have made his million dollars. I would never have made my million dollars. Randy Couture would never have made his million dollars.

I just want to make sure that as fighters we’re getting respected and we’re getting treated right. Look at Randy Couture. One of the greatest heavyweight champions, one of the greatest light heavyweight champions, now he’s not shown on any pay-per-view, he’s not mentioned on any pay-per-view, his gym’s not mentioned, nothing’s mentioned of Randy Couture in the history of the UFC. Why? Because one person has a beef with him because he asked for more money? You know, Dana, stop being a pussy. Pay us what we deserve.”

This rant raises a few questions. First, is Ortiz overestimating the importance of his effect on fighter pay in the UFC? Probably. Did he play an instrumental role in helping the UFC through a difficult period, while also making it possible for fighters to make more money? Absolutely.

The point about Couture, while less than subtle there at the end, is valid. It also makes you wonder what the UFC will make of Ortiz’s legacy if he flees the promotion for greener pastures after his bout with Machida. He seems to be wondering the same thing, as he explains that he just wants to “say his piece” before his time in the UFC is over. Even if he defeats Machida, it could be an unceremonious exit for an Octagon veteran once the bout is finished.

“When I kick Machida’s ass, people will know that I’m not going anywhere,” he says near the end of the interview.

If it surprises you to learn that Ortiz isn’t leaving quietly, you haven’t been paying attention for the last eleven years.

Props: Bloody Elbow


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car churchill insurance quote- September 29, 2008 at 5:25 pm
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Limbo Spice- May 7, 2008 at 6:41 am
How the hell is this guy supposed to live on only $8,000,000? What a bunch of crap!!!!
I don't think people realize how much money it costs to have hats and shirt neck holes special ordered because you have a 5 gallon head. Give the guy a break.
jeebus- May 5, 2008 at 5:24 pm
Too bad dana white is killing mma. Tito may be a dipshit, but he has a completely valid argument. He was one of the major players to bring ufc to the mainstream. I remeber people would stop watching Pridefc and abu to start watching the UFC and see him fight....due to wanting to see him win, or wanting to see him get his ass kicked is no difference. Dana is a massive pussy who always talks like a bad ass and never gives anyone a chance to respond. He absolutley doesnt need to let them respond, but that is still a clear sign of being a pussy. I hope tito kicks machidas ass just because I hate dana (isnt that a girls name) white.
Geoff- May 5, 2008 at 6:01 am
Another thing. I agree that most of the fighters in MMA aren't treated the best. I'm talking about those guys who literally depend on their next fight to feed themselves and their family or else they are fucked. The fighter that doesn't get amazing promotion deals or would dream about getting a half mill a year (referring to C-bus Allstar's comment)!!! The problem here is that Tito Ortiz is NOT the right guy to represent these people. He makes more than most fighters, while dating the world's most famous pornstar. That's not right.

Now try and give this thought...Is Tito doing all of this public complaining to help all those fighters out he talks about or is using this publicity to promote himself as the good guy, the hero, the fighter that stands up. It's a good strategy that puts himself in a position where if he doesn't get what he wants, Dana and the UFC look bad to the public. But honestly, I think he is trying to get his hands on more cash and say fuck off to everyone else.
Geoff- May 5, 2008 at 5:26 am
Umm...tito has no idea wat its like to be a slave...8 million? yea. he needs to fuck off.
polotodd- May 5, 2008 at 4:33 am
well, truth to be told, if you want to think of tito as a superstar in his sport, he is making pennies compared to other sports. i know it is apples and oranges, but still. if they fought a few times a year, but you have to take into account that they have a lot of training that leads up to a fight. and not to mention that in other pro sports, they dont have the chance of broken teeth, broken limbs, and the deep cuts and damage to the body like they do in MMA. anyways you have to look at it that the owners are making millions only because of the fighters, they may be the owners, but they still need to spread the money around to keep the fighters happy.
sounds like the bald irish guy is dana, by the depth of his comments.
all it comes down to is money, people that have it, and they get it because of the people that work for them, now if those people leave, they will just find other people, hence the next ultimate fighter show. it is like a farming of the next group of fighters.
there is strength in numbers, if enough of the headliners stand up togther maybe they could get more money. and if you keep a good rep of yourself, you will be able to expand into other stuff, like chuck doing entourage. etc.
tlos- May 5, 2008 at 3:33 am
you gotta think what tito has done for UFC though. he once had mass fan base while in his prime in the UFC. he has NEVER been shy to say what he feels. he did help create the UFC in some respect. he is a legend in the sport, and always will be. love or hate him most people tune in to either see him win or hope to see him lose. i understand his side of the story. look at keith jardin..... that dude has beaten some top contenders and he still is making amature money. this sport is a huge gamble to be a part of. and only a few people are making celebrity style money.
teachbug- May 5, 2008 at 3:26 am
I agree with Chev, most of you guys are a buncha tools, Tito is right, and you cant get past your hate for him to see it, I use to hate on Tito till I watched every UFC every made, and watched all his fights from his first fight as walk-on from college, and didnt even get paid, till his last, and I gotta say I understand him, and I agree with him.
I hate to see Tito leave, and I will watch whatever show he fights on cause hes that good.
Most of you jerks are Jealous as hell, of everything about him.
brice- May 5, 2008 at 3:07 am
they wont cut this fight. its one of the main billed fights. tito is talking smack to hype the fight, just like he always does.

my money is on tito to win, but it would be humiliating for him if he loses.
Sloth- May 5, 2008 at 1:20 am
Hmm, will they even air this fight or will it hit the cutting room floor like Arlovski's last fight?
chunk354- May 5, 2008 at 12:24 am
i made 32,000 last year and i paid taxes on that. and i work a hell of a lot harder then that clam hammer ever has. and i heard dana on tv say that chuck made like 9 million just from the ufc last year. im sure with sponsors and such it was well into the twenty's anyhow
Joe Son- May 4, 2008 at 9:38 pm
Big Chris, how much do you think his book deal was worth? He's not Bill Clinton. It's not like he got millions for that thing. It was published by a small imprint of Penguin, clearly dictated into a tape recorder over a couple weeks and then written by a ghostwriter. Plus, MMA fans aren't known to be huge book purchasers, so I'm guessing he didn't get as much as you think.

Endorsements and stuff, that's where he got paid, but still, $80 million? That's crazy. I could see 8, like moo said, but if you say he made 80 I have to think either you're wrong or he's selling coke on the side.
BIG CHRIS- May 4, 2008 at 9:34 pm
Yeah but his book deal, his endosrements, the shows he was on, who knows maybe he did get that much.....Chuck is the biggest name in the sport whether you like it or i could see him pulling in that much.
moo- May 4, 2008 at 9:26 pm
Last figure i can remember i heard from Liddell was something in the neighborhood of 1.1 or 1.2 million. It was something like 500,000 and a win bonus of 200,000 plus a share of the ppv buys. really cant remember where i read this but even with endorsements i couldnt see liddell bringing in 80 milion. 8 million is plausible tho.
Joe Son- May 4, 2008 at 9:02 pm
$80 mill for Liddell last year? I have to say, that sounds completely ridiculous to me. Is that a typo? Do you have a source for that?
KG- May 4, 2008 at 8:58 pm
Uh... if it wasnt for Dana and the UFC becoming so big, he wouldnt have anything CLOSE to $8m.... hes not even mentioning the millions he made off of sponsorships during those 11 years.. sponsors that only sponsored him because Dana White promoted him and made him (and Randy of course) what he is today. If it wasnt for Dana, his Punishment clothing line wouldnt even be as successful.. what a whiney BITCH... he works a couple months out of the year for fights and racks in big bucks, what a BABY.. I hope his cock falls off from some type of rare ebola virus that Jenna's snatch infected him with
Cpt Cronic- May 4, 2008 at 8:54 pm
I read some where that Chuck Liddell made somewhere around 80 million bucks last year but thats all told not just the ufc paychecks
Lerch Adams- May 4, 2008 at 8:24 pm
Gee I was a young smartass nobody punk with no future or education/skills, fought a bunch of guys who were smaller than me because I'm scared to fight at HW which is what I really am, I got paid more in 11 years than I'd have made in my whole life otherwise, no exageration, I've gotten famous, on tv, dating a rich ex-porn star, gee, I've been so screwed, poor me. Go work at Burger King or Wallmart Tito, see how you like that, see how it is to really feel like a slave and get paid REAL SHIT WAGES!
newotnek- May 4, 2008 at 7:58 pm
If you think you can make more money somewhere else.... take your whiney hiney there Toto.
Better people (and better fighters) make far less than that and actually contribute to society... you're a joke these days.
Chev- May 4, 2008 at 7:46 pm
You guys are all tools, he has a legitamate argument and all you got stuck in your head is that he made 8 million. The fighters are what make the UFC and they deserve a high percentage of the money earned. If their able to go out and market a fight the way Tito does to earn that idot dana some money then they should get paid accordingly. They definatly deserve to make as much or more then a washup like Mike Tyson who couldnt even go 2 rounds. Dana is a pussy, he loves to call people out without giving them a chance to respond.
Steve- May 4, 2008 at 7:39 pm
Thanks to the UFC, Tito's fat head is famous enough to date Jenna Jameson. He doesn't get to complain about anything, ever.
Boneman- May 4, 2008 at 7:21 pm
Unfortunatley Tito is half right...DANA IS A FUCKING PUSSY that is ruing the likeliness that our sport can ever go mainstream like go ol' boxing ...

Dana...can you please get a "Crazy AFRO" so I can call you Mr. Don "Dana" King...
C-Bus Allstar- May 4, 2008 at 7:17 pm
Oh and besides that mess.. lets do some math.

He said he made 8M in 11 years. Now that 8M is taxable. Assuming he has no tax-preparers working for him or that the tax-preparers he uses are complete idiots (neither of which is true), he would lose approximately 33% of that 8M to income taxes. That leaves approximately 5.28M after taxes. Divide that by the 11 years he spent "Slaving" for the UFC, and he's still banking over $480,000 PER YEAR.

Lemme spell that out. Four Hundred Eighty THOUSAND dollars, per year. I'm sorry but last time I checked, half a mil a year was BALLIN'. Why is he still crying?
sol- May 4, 2008 at 6:43 pm
c-bus allstar and el_loco should be joint winners for that triumph united contest if its running this week :P

On Topic: Ortiz is crying about only making $8 million? Jeez, the last few people he had on his side are definitely no longer there.
bmwtech- May 4, 2008 at 6:43 pm
Hey Tito, let's see you shufflefoot and call Dana White "boss". Maybe we should start an underground railroad for ufc fighters. Hell even Kimbo gets 6 figures.