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Tito Ortiz on the UFC: 'They're going to crumble from inside'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LOS ANGELES -- Tito Ortiz is not confident in his old company's future.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion thinks the promotion is heading in the wrong direction given recent events like the controversial Reebok deal and the firing of respected cutman Jacob "Stitch" Duran.

"It's just a matter of time," Ortiz said Tuesday at a Bellator: Dynamite media day in Hollywood. "Rome crumbles from inside and that's what they're going to do. They're going to crumble from inside. They're their worst enemies. I could just sit back and nobody is gonna talk trash about Dana, talk trash about the UFC. I'll let them do their own damage."

The last month or so has seen some excellent fights and an historic event for the UFC. But with it has come myriad public-relations nightmares. The unveiling of the Reebok uniforms was filled with gaffes, Duran was fired after criticizing cutmen's lack of compensation in the Reebok deal and UFC president Dana White went on a Twitter tirade against fans last week.

"It's sad for 'Stitch' Duran," said Ortiz, who is in the UFC Hall of Fame. "He's a guy that's been in this business since Day One and he's done a lot of great things, not only in mixed martial arts, but in professional boxing. He should be respected. It just shows, you say something against the company that's trying to monopolize everything, you get thrown to the wolves -- as I did, as many other fighters did. And that's why they left."

Ortiz, 40, retired from the UFC in 2012 and resurfaced in Bellator a year later. He has been there ever since and says he is happy. The popular "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" challenges for the Bellator light heavyweight title against champion Liam McGeary at Bellator: Dynamite on Sept. 19 in San Jose.

That event features a four-man, one-night light heavyweight tournament witi some of the biggest names in Bellator and several GLORY kickboxing matches. The SAP Center will have both an MMA cage and a kickboxing ring set up. Ortiz said that is a stark contrast to what the UFC is doing.

"I really think UFC has made it bored for MMA," Ortiz said. "You just see the same stuff. It's cookie cutter. The same stuff over and over. Now that Reebok has been a part of their sponsorship, it's cookie cutter. Bellator has taken a step forward in giving the fans what they want to see and that's exciting fights, not only in mixed martial arts and now kickboxing."

Ortiz believes the addition of Reebok has taken something away from the experience of MMA and what the UFC used to be about.

"They want to see the spectacle," Ortiz said of fans. "I remember from the very beginning when I walked out at UFC 40 when we had the big lights, the flames, everything. Fans want to see entertainment. That's why they tune into professional wrestling. You get the reality with professional fighting. That's what Scott Coker is bringing with Bellator."

That isn't why Ortiz left, though. The former champ said it had mostly to do with money and the way he felt like he was being treated by UFC brass. He saw that same perceived lack of respect when Duran was fired.

"At the end of the day, us fighters, all we have is respect," Ortiz said. "If you're a cutman, all you have is respect. We're trying to feed our family. A company is making so much money. Cut us in on pieces of it. That business didn't like to do that and that's why I left. I wasn't being respected. I wasn't getting my piece of the pie."