Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion and now UFC Hall of Famer, Tito Ortiz, says he is offended that Jones, a person he stood up for when no one else did, had some not-so-nice things to say about him in an recent interview.
In the sit down with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, ‘Bones' had this to say when asked what he felt like after he was blasted by UFC President Dana White for his decision to not accept the late-replacement fight against Chael Sonnen:
"I do everything they ask me to do, I really do, and you know, it really hurt man, it hurt to be on the different spectrum, to be compared to Tito Ortiz. I don't complain about money, I don't complain about anything, I do what I'm told."
That didn't sit too well with the recently retired Ortiz, who told MMA Weekly that he spent his entire career putting 'his life on the line' and taking bad raps on his image so that fighters like Jon can make the type of money and sign the type of contracts they have today.
Those comments, after the jump:
"Well check it out, the situation happened with 151. He was supposed to fight Chael. Well, actually he was supposed to fight Dan Henderson. He gets hurt the week before the fight, then they say you're going to fight Chael and he said no way and caught a bunch of flack from it. All of the fighters said he isn't a true fighter and nobody has ever done this before and, it's crazy, I thought it was crazy. And I stood up for the kid. I like Jon Jones. I think he's a great champion. I think he's a great guy. I've hung out with him in Vegas and I really took a liking to the kid because he's, I think he's the next best great thing. Then, all of a sudden, I heard an interview from him saying, 'People need to stop comparing me to Tito Ortiz because I don't talk about money.' And, I took a very heartfelt, that was like a stab to my back. I stood up for you when no one else did, I stood up for you and you turn around and say something like that? You have to understand, when you drive around in your Bentley, or, I don't know if he even has it anymore since he wrecked it into a tree, but when you're driving around in your Bentley, you have to understand, I'm the person who put my life on the line and my career and my image and my name on the line to take everything I did to battle for the type of contracts that you have, for the money that you're making. If it wasn't for the things I've battled for and I took all the bad image because of it, you'd be driving around in a Toyota right now. Fighters need to understand and respect guys on my level that I took a lot of flack to negotiate and battle for what I believed in. It wasn't a factor of talking about money, it was a factor of what I believed I was worth. That's been my whole career. I was going out and I was doing the main press. I was going out and doing the reality shows and doing the wrestling stuff and always being a person outside of the box of not just being a fighter and I was believing what I was worth and I was trying to raise the bar for all fighters and I think I've done that. And for him to say the things he's saying that, 'I'm not like Tito Ortiz because I don't talk about money.' Don't disrespect me like that man, I've had your back when no one else did. That's all I said and I was just disappointed. I was very, very disappointed with Jon. Maybe he is just young, maybe he is just 22 or 23-years old and he doesn't know, maybe the stardom is getting to his head. Like I said, I took a liking to Jon Jones, but I was just disappointed in that interview I read. That's all I got to say about that."
No one can argue the fact that Ortiz is a true pioneer of the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) and his well-documented battles with Dana White perhaps did set some kind of precedent as to how fighters and their management teams negotiate when it comes to money.
Whether or not Jones made that comment with malicious intent, is open for interpretation.
Like it or not, Jones will eventually be compared to Tito, as the young phenom is closing in on the record for consecutive 205-pound title defenses. Ortiz defended his title five consecutive times before forking it over to Randy Couture in 2003. Jones is currently at three defenses and is set to attempt to defend his title for the fourth straight time as he takes on Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 on Sept. 22, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
In the end, only Jones knows whether or not he meant the comment to be offensive or not. However, if Tito, or other people, for that matter are upset with him, he probably won't lose any sleep over it, because after all, he isn't in the fight game to be loved.