(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