I try not to say “I told you so” a lot, because I know that the majority of you guys agree with most of what I post. But to all those people who said Tito would never leave the UFC no matter how balls they treated him … I told you so. I also look forward to another “I told you so” in six to twelve months when Tito signs with another major organization and helps them to become the first real competition the UFC has faced since Pride. Gotta love it when the UFC shoots itself in the foot.
Lots of people don’t like Tito, not so much because of his talk but because his walk hasn’t backed it up since … hmm. 2002, let’s say. I, on the other hand, choose to love Tito Ortiz because he’s one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts and the sport needs guys like him to help it grow. The bigger the sport grows, the more events we get to see, and the more everyone in the sport gets paid. Eventually the sport will grow big enough that a little blogga’ like me will get a few crumbs from the table, and we can rejoice, slap a salary cap on the fighters, and all live happily ever after.
Here’s what I want to do: can everyone put aside their opinion of Tito Ortiz for a second and look at the hard fact: Tito Ortiz makes the UFC lots of money. Let’s even ignore all the money he made them through the dark ages of the sport, where he basically carried the promotion on his young and unbusted back. Lets just look at now. Put Tito against a decent name, and you’ll have awesome PPV numbers and sold out venues. It’s that simple.
Even if you decide that Tito Ortiz ain’t worth the time or trouble, you can’t ignore the growing trend of insanity that’s developing: the UFC sure seems to be losing a lot of guys lately. Randy Couture is gone, Tito’s come out and straight up said he’s going. Andrei Arlovski is playing his cards close, but leaks have shown he’s ready to fuck off too. And the fishy silence between the UFC and Mirko Crocop points to the UFC trying to wrangle a cheaper fight out of the Croatian due to his past performances.
Oh, and let’s not forget that the UFC tossed Ken Shamrock out on his ass to boot. I don’t care how old Ken is, how shitty Tito is, how boring Arlovski’s been, or what Crocop’s shown in his last two fights. The UFC is losing marquee fighters who should be in the ring fighting, not on the sidelines over contractual disputes. In fact, if they keep this pace up they’ll have lost more cornerstone fighters than most other promotions have combined.
I don’t think the solution to these problems is to throw money at the fighters. But I also don’t think crazy hardball tactics are the way to go either. Zuffa should be smart enough to figure out a way to solve these problems without reading the riot act and burning bridges every time a fighter wants to be paid more.