Tito: I want to be longest-running champ ever
The ever awesome Submission Radio caught up with UFC Hall of Famer and Bellator light heavyweight Tito Ortiz and talked Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Fedor Emelianenko, Ken Shamrock., Kimbo Slice, Conor McGregor, and more.
Ortiz used to manager Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, and says Ronda Rousey is ducking her.
“Yeah, if she wasn’t [ducking] she would already fight her,” said Ortiz. “The fight would already be done, you know? They’d fight at catchweight at 140 and they would already make it happen. One of the reasons why Ronda ran into 135 pounds – she used to be a 145 pounder when she fought in Strikeforce, but she cut down to get away from Cris. If the fight would have happened it would happen already, but Ronda wants to ride her glory trailer. I’m proud of her though. I’m proud of Ronda. She’s doing an amazing job. She’s putting MMA on the map for women like no other, and she’s a superstar in the sport, in films, and around the world. So you know, I’m proud of the girl.”
“As a friend, as a training partner, I really see it hard for Cris to make 135. You know, we talk about it, about making it. Making 145 is not super difficult, but it is hard for her to do. She’s coming down from 170, you know I mean? When she’s not in great shape she’s 175, almost 180. She’s a big girl. I mean, she’s fought her whole career – we’re talking about Cris Cyborg – at 145 pounds, I mean her whole career. And it’s just, her trying to cut down even more, I just think it just….it would really make her not as great a fighter as she is if she fights at 145 pounds; or even at 140, I think she would even do better. But it’s just, we’re going try to get down before the year is over. Try at least have one fight at 140. And it’s just a matter of time I think. Miesha Tate has said she’d fight Cris at 140. So that might be the first right step towards getting a fight with Ronda Rousey.”
“I think it'd do a lot for the sport in general and in woman’s MMA. It’s just one of those things like a Manny Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, but I think this would be a real fight. I think you'd have a more exciting fight, where she would want to exchange with each other, not play the pitter-patter of dancing and how boxing does, as the Mayweather fight did give you. I mean I was bummed about it. I was a huge Mayweather and Pacquiao fan. I was excited to see who would be the better boxer.”
Then Tito turned to the controversial issues of the day.
Tito on the IV ban.
“Well, you know I really didn’t start using IVs until like 2009, 2008,” he said. “Randy Couture is the one who told me about it. I’ve always just done pedialytes. I mean and I’ve always cut anywhere from 15 to 20 pounds for a fight and the IVs helped out a whole bunch more. It makes it easier. But for other people who cut the 20 pounds, they're usually a smaller man. I’m a big guy so I can cut a lot of weight, it’s not a problem, I’ve mastered this. I’ve never missed a weight in my whole career, and I just think for a whole lot of other people it’s hard for them to accept the fact that in the UFC they’re going to have to cut IVs. I mean I really don’t see the negative benefits that the athletic commission get for not doing IVs, you know? If it makes it kinda harder for guys to use any kind of dope or any type of steroids and anything like that – but if the guys are using them, they’re going to catch him anyways. So I don’t understand what’s the difference. In Bellator we don’t have to worry about it – thank god – but if it does happen during my career, I have no problem rehydrating with pedialytes and water and food, and just get back up to normal walk-around weight, pre-fight, around 220, 223, to 224. That’s not a problem. A lot of these other guys do the IVs and they go from, you know, 170. They weigh in and all of a sudden they’re 185, almost 190 when it’s fight time. And that’s a big difference too for the size of a man that’s putting that much weight on.”
Tito on charges that Ken Shamrock vs. Kimbo Slice fight was a work.
“Well for one, you've got two guys – you know Kimbo is a street fighter and Ken Shamrock is 51 years old,” he began. “I’m not talking anything bad about Ken Shamrock – you know or Kimbo either – but to be a main event, the name speaks for itself. The names sold it. They got over 2.2 million viewers, which was great. People still want to see those two guys fight, they want to see Kimbo fight and I think the hatred they had towards each other it’s what fueled the fire. People don’t understand – you know for people to view something to be a spectacle, that’s why they watch it. No matter what. They watch it. You look at Conor McGregor. I mean they guy has only fought four times in the UFC, and he got probably one of the biggest pay per view buys in his last fight he had 'cause he talks. He talks well. People like excitement, people like people who are fighters, who put their heart and soul out there and say what they mean, and say what they feel. And Kimbo and Shamrock did the same thing. As far as Rogan saying that it was a fixed fight; I was sitting right there, I mean literally right in front of it, and the punch that Shamrock got hit with, I felt it. I was like “ow”. And it was far from fixed at all. I mean I don’t know how they could cut the camera away and put blood on Ken Shamrock’s face, put a gash on his face. It was far from fixed.”
“You know, Ken Shamrock just wasn’t in shape. He was in good enough shape for a 50 year old man, but wasn’t in shape enough to finish, you know, a non-professional mixed martial artist. At the same time, I just….I don’t know, I thought it was a spectacle fight that got viewership into it. At the end of the day, the fights prior to that were exciting. The whole card in general was a really exciting card, and I was happy to be in the audience.”
Tito on charges that Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes was a fix.
“It’s ridiculous [to say] that it was fixed,” said Ortiz, accurately. “It was not fixed. I mean they did pick Chad Mendes two weeks prior to the fight. They probably ran him through the PR tour, and I mean, well Chad wasn’t ready. I would have loved to see Frankie Edgar with that fight. I think Frankie Edgar would do a better job, but of course the UFC there’s a little weight on McGregor that the UFC wants him to win. The guy talks great, and if he fights good and he puts peoples butts in chairs, and people watch it on pay per view, and that’s what they care about, you know? They protect their commodity, and their commodity is Conor McGregor.”
“McGregor is a bigger draw in MMA than Brock Lesnar as of now. Before, Brock Lesnar was, just because he came over with all the WWF fans and they're huge, crazy, maniac fans. But now Conor McGregor has a whole country on his side and actually he's got two countries now with the United States and he has Brazil hating him. So when you have them love them and hate you, you fall in my shoes where they love to hate you and hate to love you, which is great.
“And I think McGregor is – before, I thought he wasn’t as great as he is after the fight, because he was taking an ass whipping for a round and he came back and he showed poise, and he showed technique, and he showed talent, and he’s great on the mic, and he ended up knocking out Chad Mendes. And Chad’s never been knocked out ever, and he knocked him out within three [rounds] and he called it. He said he’s going to knock him out in three, and I wonder if Dana made that three million dollar bet with him saying he was gonna knock him out. So I think McGregor’s good for the sport. I think he deserves everything he gets. I hope he’s getting paid what he deserves and I gotta say, I respect the guy. He dresses nice, he talks great, and he fights great; kind of like myself when I was the world champion. So it’s nice to see a guy do it nowadays and not afraid to do it, and have no backlash for doing it.”
Tito on the UFC Fight Kit Reebok uniforms.
“The uniforms are horrible,” he said. “Thank god I don’t have to fight for that company. Gosh I feel bad for those guys. Man they look silly, and I’m not a big fan of it. I don’t know, that’s just me. I think each person has their own unique personality that shows through their clothing. That’s the way I did. I mean back in the day, can you imagine Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz having to wear Rebook and they couldn’t wear ice and flames? It just wouldn’t make any sense. So you lose the fighters. It's just….you’re controlling the fighters. The fighters don’t get an opportunity to make a name for themselves ever because they all look the same. It just looks like a conveyer belt of fighters that are going out and are fighting, you know?
“Thank god for McGregor who talks very well and he’s outspoken and he’s able to find a character and run with it. I mean the guy is a great talker and he can back it up in his fights. I actually – he has just changed my mind of what type of fighter he really is, and I think he’s going to be great, and I think he’s going to be one of the greatest.”
Tito on former Bellator opponent Alexander Shlemenko, who is suspended for three years for failing a PED test.
“I guess he should have never called me out,” said Tito. “Once I choked him unconscious, his career really just took a crap, you know? I stole his soul and I guess I’m sorry Alex Shlemenko – or Alexander Shlemenko – I apologize to you for doing that, but you called me out. And a lot of these guys get popped for this stuff and it’s stupid. Why do they do it? They think they’re going to get away it. It’s just….it's sad for the sport, it’s sad for each one of the individuals that do get caught with it. You get high names who are doing it, I mean big named guys who are doing it and getting caught with it, and you would never believe it. But I think it’s bad for the sport. They're sending a bad example for the sport and for themselves, and they gotta pay the price. And Alexander Shlemenko paying three years for it…that’s a big price to pay.”
Tito on the return of Fedor Emelianenko.
“I think Fedor is signing with Bellator, and if he can get down to 205 I would love to fight him,” said Ortiz. “I’ve always fought at 205, I will always fight at 205 because I know I’m in great shape when I fight at 205, but if Bellator could put that together; wow, can you imagine after I beat McGeary, me and Fedor for the light heavyweight title? That'd be amazing.”
“Well, you know Scott Coker is a straightshooter, and I know he’s an awesome guy, and I know Fedor has had that great time with Bellator at the signings, and I know Scott Coker and Fedor are good friends, his managers are good friends with him. And you know it just seems like when you’re in a good business relationship, things just make sense, and I don’t know. We'll see. I can’t let the cat out of the bag too soon can I?”
Then Tito turned to his career in Bellator, starting with whether Scott Coker offered him a fight with Frank Shamrock.
“It took about maybe two seconds to figure that one out and say no,” he said. “Let’s think about this. Tito Ortiz 2015, fights Frank Shamrock who’s retired. Tito Ortiz who's on a two-fight win streak and has an opportunity to fight for a world title. Why would I want to give my fans an easy win when I could go out saying I fought the champion and beat the champion and challenged myself like no other? I could take the easy road, I could make the payday, I could get paid. This is not paydays for me. I have money, that’s fine. It’s not about that. This is about me leaving the sport as being a world champion. How I started this sport is being a world champion, and I challenge myself. I mean that’s why the fans love me, I challenge myself. I could have taken a fight with Kimbo Slice, I could have taken a fight with Ken Shamrock, but no, I didn’t want to. I want to challenge myself as a human being, as an athlete, as a legend in the sport. I have really done so much for the sport. This sport has given me so much.
“I just really chose this, and right off the bat I told Scott “I want to fight Liam”. He’s like “well why don’t we do you and Kimbo”. I was like “no I want to fight Liam”. And he’s goes like “why don’t we do you and Ken Shamrock”. I’m like “no I want to fight Liam”. He goes “well how about you and Frank Shamrock”. I go “Scott please, who do I need to talk to? I want to fight Liam McGeary”. And he goes “alright, well I really don’t think people like this”. And I said “okay, we’ll see”. And I posted it on Twitter and people went nuts. Legend vs. Champion, they want to see it. And all of a sudden Viacom's talking, Spike TV's talking. And then all of sudden Scott called me back. He’s like “oh this will be great, champion vs. legend. Let’s do this”. And bada bing, bada bang, we’re in the ropes, on the road of being the world champion again. I’m very, very excited.”
“I think Liam is a great guy. I really like the guy. He has something that I want, and that’s a world title. You know, face to face I have respect for the guy. When it’s fight time, everything is going to be thrown out the window, and it’s going to be two dogs trying to get their first meal. But I think it will help me more that I fight with my heart and mind, and not with my mind and heart as I did with Stephan Bonnar. I just fought with pure heart and anger that fight. I hated him. I mean I just…every punch had bad intentions on it. I was swinging for the fences. There was no technique to it, you know? I was just….I was trying to maul Bonnar. I was just trying to kill him. I still wanted to punch him after the fight was over. I still want to punch him even now. I don’t like the guy. I really don’t like the guy. He’s just a scumbag. I don’t like the guy. And I mean, in my whole career there aren’t many people I can say that after I fought them that I still don’t like them, and Bonnar is one of those guys I still don’t like. He’s just….he’s a dirt bag.
“But McGeary I have complete respect for, and I think it just makes the match that much more exciting to watch because we’re going to see who’s the best technician, who has the better skills. And yes, Liam is 10-0 and he’s submitted a lot of guys, he’s knocked out a few guys, but has he ever fought anybody like Tito Ortiz? I really don’t think he has. I watched what Emanuel did to him and to take him down at will like that. I know what I have to do to win the match and I know what it’s going to take for me to be the world champion. But like I said, Liam is the best right now. In 205 pounds in Bellator, Liam is the best fighter in the world, and I gotta prepare for that. I gotta prepare for the worst and best will happen.”
“Will he bring anything different that I haven’t seen before? No. Because I’m training with the best of the best right now. I’m training at Kings, I’m training with Fabricio Werdum, I got a lot of guys that I’m working with, you know, Rafael Cordeiro, Jason Parillo, a lot of Jiu Jitsu guys that are helping, some wrestler guys that are helping. I’m just putting in the work. My mind is able to do it, my body's been able to react to everything I’m doing, I’m doing my road work, I’m doing my lifts, and I’m doing the things that I need to do to prepare myself for war. I’m going out there, I’m gonna give it everything I possibly can to get my hand raised, and that’s what I’m gonna do on September 19th, is getting my hand raised and be a champion in two major organizations for the first time. No other fighter has done that.”
“I have two fights [left on the current contract]. So I win this world title, I defend the world title, and I come back to the negotiation table, and I come back and run it for 6-7 fights and be the longest raining Bellator world champion, and be the longest raining MMA world champion in history. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”