Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz has officially ended his turbulent tenure with the most popular mixed martial arts promotion in the world, opting to sign with upstart Affliction MMA and reuniting with his on screen "boss," Donald Trump, from the "Apprentice."
No specific details of the contract were revealed at this time; however, the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" told SportsIllustrated.com that deal is "like no other."
Here's a snip:
"I guarantee you that my contract will be like no other. It will be a ground-breaking record contract for sure, without a doubt. There's so much money to be made right now in mixed martial arts and it's all about the fighters trying to make that money. It's going to be a long-term deal where I put my heart and soul into the company and help build them. That's something I'm interested in doing. They're going to bring me on, not just as a fighter but also doing some of the back work also."
That "back work" likely includes an opportunity to somehow help grow the business behind the scenes. Ortiz -- one of the most recognizable and controversial faces in the sport -- has been a part of several of the top-grossing pay-per-view (PPV) events ever.
He can likely leverage that star power to contribute to the success of the promotion.
The interesting thing here is that Ortiz is clearly set to likely make a lot of money, which is not uncommon within Affliction MMA. For its first show, in fact, the promotion shelled out an astounding collective payroll that exceeded $3.3 million, cutting into any potential profit significantly.
And company Vice President Tom Atencio has been adamant that he's not in the business to lose money. Furthermore, he has indicated that he intends to scale back the purses for the encore event, which is slated for the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 11.
Can the promotion handle another huge salary? Time will likely tell that tale. Ortiz, meanwhile, is optimistic that his new home will soon become the best show in town.
Here's another snip:
"Mr. Trump sees it as a business and no more than that. He understands that and there's nothing personal to it at all and that's what the UFC has problem with. The UFC takes the work they do very, very personal and in any business once you let your personal feelings get involved with it everything goes to [crap]. Mr. Trump is a strict businessman who respects the fighters. This is going to be one of the biggest losses [the UFC] has ever had to date and one of the worst mistakes they've ever made."
Ortiz has all of his professional fights, 22, under the UFC banner in a career that dates back to 1997. He has three wins, two defeats and one draw since he returned to action in 2006 from a brief hiatus. And those three victories have come at the expense of a past-his-prime, Ken Shamrock (twice), and a controversial split decision over Forrest Griffin.
If this is indeed a mistake then he will have to prove it where he first made a name for himself -- inside the ring. His first test could come against Renato "Babalu" Sobral at "Day of Reckoning" on October 11.
Rest assured that everyone will be watching. However, if he loses, for how much longer? This appears to be yet another gamble that Affliction hopes will pay off in the long-term.