If his 12-year tenure in the UFC's light heavyweight division proved anything, it's that Tito Ortiz is not a timid man. Ortiz, a former champion and current UFC Hall of Famer, was never one to shy away from a hot microphone, regardless of the consequences.
That penchant for honestly landed Ortiz in hot water on more than one occasion, especially with the higher-ups at Zuffa. Although retirement may have mellowed the former "Huntington Beach Bad Boy," Ortiz's ability to say exactly what is on his mind often made him a fan favorite, and it is still present.
Appearing on Monday episode of The MMA Hour, Ortiz riffed on a number of wide-ranging topics, from his efforts to secure a Cris Cyborg vs. Ronda Rousey superfight and thoughts on retirement, to the prevalence of PEDs in MMA and his current relationship with Dana White. The following are excerpts from that conversation:
On a potential Ronda Rousey vs. Cyborg Santos superfight:
"Working with Cyborg is challenging. The girl wants to fight, of course, but it's just a question with her getting down to 145 [pounds]. She really feels it's impossible. She walks around 160, 165, and to make 145 for all the years she's done it, she's like, ‘Tito, it really takes the last energy just for me to make 145. Now they want me to cut down to 135? It's going to be really, really, almost impossible.' I battle back and forth with her, telling her how the UFC is going to take care of her, this and that. We're still just ... we're at the end of the rope, I think. I'm not sure if she wants to do it. Me and my partner, George Prajin, we just sit there and we just try to talk to her over and over again.
"Will she make 135? As a person who has cut weight for 22 years: no, I don't think it's going to happen. It's hard for women to cut that much weight. For a woman to be three-percent body fat, it's not healthy. She talks about that she wants to have kids some day. Things like that can damage her [in that regard], and a lot of people don't understand that. This is not a man we're talking about. This is a woman we're talking about. For Ronda to cut down the weight, yeah, she had a lot of extra weight on her.
"[Cyborg] doesn't have much on her. She used to walk around at 170 and she lost some muscle mass just to try to see if she can get lower in this weight to do it. So far, so good. Like I said, she's 160, 165. She bounces back around there. She says she stopped lifting weights the way she does and really just [been] focusing on her jiu-jitsu. She's been training, putting in the time.
"I hope I can put this fight together, man. I'm trying my hardest. I hope Dana [White] understands. I hope Dana is listening to this and understands. I'm trying to get this thing together."
On Ronda Rousey and the UFC women's division:
"I think it should be more about the women's division in general, than about one person. Ronda's fought maybe, what, five times now? Or only five times now? To do that to somebody, it just shows disrespect towards all the other women fighters that are in that weight class.
"I think she's believing the hype a little bit too much. She hasn't proven anything yet."
"For now [the tournament format is sustainable]. That's how you make great champions. That's how you solidify who is the best fighter, and they're doing it. They're doing it the smart way. I watch and I see some pretty good fighters in an event. The production is good. The fighters are tough as hell, so I really think they have a future."
On PEDs and Forrest Griffin hijacking his final post-fight interview:
"I was pissed. I was just pissed for my fans, too. That was very disrespectful, but you know, the drugs [Griffin] was on, or the steroids he was on at the time, maybe it just made him act wacky and that's why he did what he did. I really think that it just shows. I'm sick of [sending] that message out to our youths that want to become UFC fighters, to say that it's okay to use testosterone if your levels are a little low.
"I tested negative every single time they tested me. They tested me randomly. They tested me before my fights, a month before my fights, two months before my fights. They've always tested me, and I've never thought that [PEDs] were something that I needed. I've watched a lot of the guys like Mark Coleman, how they'd gas so damn quick, and I thought, ‘Why would I want to do that to my body. Why would I want to eat my body up or destroy my muscles.' And I didn't want that to happen.
"It's starting to become a bigger and bigger problem, I think. You're starting to notice fighters are a lot more shredded than they ever have been in their career. Of course it's going to give them an edge. How would you like to be 35 years old and feel like you're 24 years old, fighting, when you have no more pain, soreness, achiness, and you're able to push yourself over the limits because of something you're on. Fighters do it all the time."
On his relationship with Dana White and the UFC:
"I learned a lot from him. He taught me a lot. There was a time when SEG owned the company, and Dana sat with me. We negotiated pay-per-view, a bigger chunk of money, and he was like, ‘This is the way it is. If you don't want it, we'll go somewhere else.' And hung the phone up. He turned around a looked at me and goes, ‘Dude, I hope I made the right decision for your future.' And at the time, I go, ‘Dana, I trust you. I think you did and I stand behind you.' And then all of a sudden he got a play to be president, and all of a sudden I found myself in the same shoes as Dana, because I didn't have a manager. I was making my own decisions and I got hated on because of it. I got talked down upon. There was so many different things that made me look bad on The Ultimate Fighter, time and time again. There was just so much other stuff that just came about, that I think we're even. I think he got me back ... for things that I said about him that I probably shouldn't have said. For wearing the shirt that I did during the weigh-ins, that I probably shouldn't have did. I'm an emotional guy, I wear my heart on my sleeve, man.
"Of course I [regret those decisions]. I wish I would've handled myself a little differently.
"You still see that Dana is still maybe hurt by the things I've said in the past and can't forgive. He says we're cool, he says no problem and everything, but, as I look, and never being invited to UFCs at all. I used to a long time ago. Just a lot of little small things, but I don't take it personally. It's business."
"That's a great question. I don't know. Maybe there's still hatred.
"Of course [I wanted a job]. Who wouldn't want a job with the UFC? It's the greatest promotion in the world. And I think I could do a wonderful job doing it. I don't know, helping the fighters with marketing. A lot of the fighters don't understand it. They come and they fight, and they're forgot about. There's a lot of things that could be done to make fighters more interesting for the fans to, you know, fall in love with and really follow their careers closely."
On injuries and the possibility of him coming out of retirement:
"I still have to get another knee surgery. Before I fought Forrest, nine weeks before, they took out 50-percent of my Meniscus. And then during the fight, hitting a double or defending a shot -- I think it was when I hit a double -- I re-tore my ACL. So I have to get my ACL redone on my right knee. I'm just sick of getting surgeries.
"I'm not coming back, man. Neck surgery, I just got through five weeks ago. I'm still recovering from it. It's difficult, it's hard. The pain hurts still. Not like it was before, of course, so now I'm just kind of waiting for UFC insurance to take care of it. First they said yes, then they denied it, and so, I don't know. I'm kind of just waiting, just sitting in limbo on a bill that was supposed to be taken care of. I thought UFC insurance took care of us fighters, if we fought and got injured during the fight, and almost comes to find out, [it's] not. I'm second guessing, wow, is this really happening right now. Hopefully it's a dream.
"I'm not 100-percent sure [how much the bill is for]. I think it's something like $90,000. They denied the claim, so I'm just waiting. I don't know, Dana said he'll take care of it, so Dana is a man of his word. Hopefully it'll just take a little time for them to make it happen."
On the possibility of aiding in the creation of a fighter's union:
"I really don't think so, just because the UFC doesn't want it to happen. Dana doesn't want it to happen. And if I do it, then it becomes, ‘Here we go, Tito is trying to destroy the UFC again.'
"Yes [the fighters need it], so you wouldn't have to worry about denying a claim on their insurance. That's maybe just the tip of some of the things. There's a lot of things that fighters go through right now that they're afraid to say something. But it is what it is.
"It's never going to happen. When we were all at the highest part of our careers, we could have done it. I was the only person saying something, B.J. Penn was the only person saying something, and everybody else just kept hush-hush."
If fans mocking his injuries bothers him:
"Not at all. Just because none of these people have ever fought with injuries, or put their lives on the line no matter what, and still performed. I still did, and I think I performed well with the injuries I had. I kept saying the truth every time I fought. If I was injured, I was going to say it. Yeah, I was hurt, but I still came out and I fought. I put on a good fight, I put on a show, and I did what I wanting to do. And I think that's why fans respect me so much."