Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock are still bitter -- and judging from what we saw on TSN's Off The Record earlier this afternoon -- they will remain bitter ... perhaps forever.
Show host Michael Landsberg asked the two UFC Hall of Fame inductees about the reason(s) they are so upset with company president, Dana White. And apart from their mixed martial arts (MMA) contributions, why the pair cannot acknowledge the gamble and sacrifice White, as well as his business partners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, brought to the table to build Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) into the successful business it is today.
Ortiz was understanding, but feels more credit should go out to the fighters.
"Dana's a promoter ... he goes out, away from his family and promotes the sport for what it is. But, he's not the one getting into the cage, and entertaining the fans who are watching -- and spending the money, and buying the pay-per-view and making him billions of dollars that they UFC are making. Us fighters are the ones who are stepping it, putting our life on the line."
Ortiz and Shamrock are clearly more concerned with the amount professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters earn, more so than their feuds with Dana White. At least, that's what we are getting out of it, which is nothing new if that's the case.
Fighter pay has been a huge topic, sparking big debates as of late, with fighters such as John Cholish (more details here), Jacob Volkmann (more details here) and current UFC employee Tim Kennedy (more details here), all making comments in the media about how they should be compensated more.
News even broke about Jon Fitch, recently released from the UFC and now with World Series of Fighting, who had to pack up shop and take a fitness center job in Syracuse, New York.
Ortiz went on to say that the Fertitta brothers, whom he does not have an issue with at all, were the ones who forked out the money for the UFC to grow.
"They are the ones who saved the sport and put their money behind it and put their money behind us fighters who are name brands. Me and Ken are probably the ones who sold the most pay-per-views to this day."
Landsberg then reminded Ortiz about his knee surgery, and that the promotion did in fact pay for it. Ortiz agreed, but credited Lorenzo Fertitta for the help.
"It was from when I fought Forrest Griffin. I guess I tore my ACL, and Lorenzo came out of pocket. I got a fair shake from Lorenzo. I'll never say anything bad about Lorenzo and Frank ... they are the only two that gave me a fair shake."
Ortiz and Shamrock really laid it out on the line and made this whole segment about the money White makes, which is more of a personal subject than anything, versus what fighters should be compensated. Shamrock shouted at Ortiz to get his attention, and then gave his thoughts.
"This is what it is. If Dana didn't have you, or didn't have Chuck, or didn't have me, or didn't have Frank to be able to make money off of our sweat and our blood, where would he be? So without the charisma and talent we had, Dana White would not have a job right now."
Landsberg told both men that White has done brilliantly for himself, taking a narrow sport and turning it mainstream. Ortiz then interjected with thoughts of his own.
"Of course he's gone it brilliantly when you've got enough money to have a backing to do it. It's easy. You can sit there, cuss, put out a thing saying you're going to fight one of the fighters and talk smack about the fighter to make money off the fighter. Of course it's an easy thing to do."
Ortiz was referring to when him and White were supposed to duke it out in the Octagon, and even had a Spike TV special dedicated to a potential battle between the boss and his employee.
You have to respect Landsberg for not pulling back any punches himself, asking Shamrock about his lawsuit with the company, and how he owes them $175,000. Landsberg asked him how he was going to handle that and there was not much else on Shamrock's part to disclose, other than what he feels is actually owed to him.
"I can't really talk much on it, it's a legal thing. And right now, it's still being worked on. So, it's kind of funny when people talk about owing. If you look at how much money was made in the UFC when I was there, the buyrates that came in and the idea that Dana White was going under when I came in -- I said the buyrates would go over $100,000, and he didn't believe me. He lied to me about what the buyrates were, because he didn't want to pay me for what I was supposed to get. So when you talk about someone owing you money ... it kind of really makes me angry."
Landsberg reiterated that both competitors are forgetting that he is their boss, and both long-time rivals did not take too kindly to that comment.
"One thing you're forgetting is that we're the fighters. We're putting on the show. Look at boxing, how come they're making $40-50 million a fight?"
Ortiz mentioned the paydays that the fighters of the "Sweet Science" generate, and the reason the money is so vastly different. He also answered Landsberg's question if he was compensated reasonably during his time with UFC. Ortiz said he was well off, but not reasonably.
"Look at Floyd Mayweather making $42 million dollars for a pay-per-view -- what am I doing differently from what this guy's doing? You want to see a fight, I'm fighting on November 2nd, and it's going to be a fight. You're not going to see a boxing match. I'm going to try and hurt the guy."
Winning is the difference, Tito, but admirable segue.
Before we get into the obvious Bellator 106 plugs, the comparison to boxing never goes away, and the payday battles between both combat sports will forever live on. Like Landsberg said on the broadcast, these men are free to go wherever they want, unlike the UFC where all fighters are under one banner.
There are too many comparisons to Floyd Mayweather's purses, and how he has built an empire through his boxing career. "Money," is exactly what his name suggests -- money -- and that is the business he is in. Unfortunately, fighters cannot market themselves in a way Mayweather, or any boxer for that matter, can promote himself. Boxing promoters align themselves with boxers purposely to see how much money they can generate and build them into a big star, if possible. That simply is not in the cards with a sport like MMA. Boxing is in an investment into one's talent, and MMA fighters have it differently. For example, the pay-per-view model -- with an average of 24 competitors on one event, whereas boxing revolves around one fight -- the main event (sometimes we get intriguing undercards, sometime we do not).
Now, onto the Bellator 106 bit -- it is obvious Ortiz was out to promote his pay-per-view headlining fight with another UFC outcast, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and t was a little too staged to be honest -- sort of like a pro wrestling promo, where he asked the fans if they wanted to see a fight, and then lauded about how he was going to smash his opponent.
Even Shamrock, who said he does not usually watch fights on television because he "gets too amped up," said he would not miss this one and if you chose to tune out, it was your loss.
One did not need to be a neurosurgeon to figure out what was going on here behind the scenes; Ortiz, with the help of Shamrock, clearly has future plans and he is going to promoted himself as well, which is fine and dandy.
However, this show did not necessarily provide us with anything breaking or stimulating, or something that we did not already know.
They sure as hell did not "expose the truth," which was what they said they were going to do -- they just confirmed that all parties more or less hate each other. Who knows if Ortiz and Shamrock truly see eye to eye on anything else but fighter pay? They were not even in the same room together.
What was missing was the presence of Frank Shamrock, who was originally on the bill but was missing due to tech issues. He would have shed some insight on the matter and with all due respect to UFC Hall of Famers that were on the show, he sits in a peculiar position because he should be in the Hall of Fame and his UFC Light Heavyweight title fight with Tito Ortiz at UFC 22 is not credited enough for being one of the best fights in the history of the company. He has had some choice words for White in the past, and vice versa, but we do not get a clear image as to why there is so much hate between the two.
If there's anything that truly sparks debate, it is when Landsberg asked Ortiz that his sources confirmed the man known as "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" made $18 million dollars during his tenure -- and Ortiz responded in blunt fashion.
"Nope ... no."
"How does that even matter?" Shamrock said as he jumped in.
"When you talk about a business, us fighters have to go in and negotiate a business deal. When you do that you need to put all the cards on the table -- how much money you're making, how much on merchandise, pay-per-views, t-shirt sales, reselling of video tapes...all that needs to be laid out on the table to negotiate a proper deal."
UFC has shied away from revealing those stats, more so PPV buys. That is a facet many fans, and members of the media, and maybe even fighters, would love to know. Yet, who knows what the fighters know? Who knows if nowadays, they are told what is on the table yet cannot speak about it?
Does a business need to disclose all of their earnings with their employees? Which companies do that? That should be taken with a grain of salt, but ultimately, is for you to decide.
Apart from that, Ortiz and Shamrock went off on White, and it was exactly what we expected -- and could have more so guessed what they were going to say.
It remains to be seen what White thinks of the broadcast, or even if he even cares to give it any attention at all.