PRO MMA (http://promma.info) talked all things MMA with former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Tito Ortiz at the Affliction: Day of Reckoning press conference. The “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” may not be fighting on this weekend’s card, however, he has been making his presence felt during the promotion process.
Despite being forced to sit out the first half of 2009, Ortiz believes he will return to top form once he has recovered from back surgery.
Ortiz touched on rumors surrounding a UFC 99 return, how he would approach Andrei Arlovski, joining the Affliction announce team and his ideal time table for a return to action.
PRO MMA: Thank you for speaking to us, Tito.
ORTIZ: My pleasure.
PRO MMA: What has this experience of preparing to be in the booth and doing P.R. like, as opposed to getting ready to fight on an event of this magnitude?
ORTIZ: I’ve always been the person out there promoting as much as possible anyway. This is the norm for me. This is like taking a walk in the park. In the long run, the fighting has more physical attributes to it. This is more of using your mind. I’m just excited to see this fight on Saturday night. Being a color commentator and being able to give my views of what I see. How it goes from move to move, take down to take down and strike-to-strike. The average fan who is watching will understand what is really going on.
PRO MMA: With the way that Andrei Arlovski’s striking has improved over his last few fights, many people believe Fedor will look to take him down. How would you approach Andrei Arlovski in this fight?
ORTIZ: Arlovski is a friend of mine and I’ve told him: “You’ve gotta move your feet and you’ve got to defend the take down.” When Arlovski puts his hands on Fedor, he is going to feel Arlovski’s power. Andrei is working with one of the best boxing trainers in the world, Freddie Roach. I would take down Arlovski. I would take him down and look for a submission. The times that I have seen him fight, those have been his weaknesses. Fedor has got to understand that. If they want to do an exciting fight for fans to watch on pay-per-view, I really think both of them standing up will make that fight exciting.
PRO MMA: After UFC 93, rumors had you possibly fighting Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 99 in May. Any truth to those rumors?
ORTIZ: Zero chance of that happening. Zero. I just had surgery three months ago. I am doing really well though; I am about fifty percent now. Three months after back surgery…that’s a pretty damn good percentage. I am getting better and better as the weeks go on. I am looking possibly to fight in July or August. I’ll be a hundred percent and I feel sorry for a lot of Light Heavyweights. Me at one hundred percent…the last time I was at that level I was the world champion. I am still young at 33 years old. I still have a bright future, I believe. I just can’t wait to compete again. I know a lot of fans at home want to see Tito Ortiz competing again. When I fought Machida, back in May, I tried to fight as aggressive as I possibly can and the guy ran away from me the whole time. The only time I got a hold of him was when I caught him in a submission. It is just a fact that he won a fair and square fight. I am a guy who will get down, brawl and make it an exciting fight. In July we are looking at coming back.
PRO MMA: Is there any one organization that you are leaning towards signing with at this point in time? Or is that something that you are going to wait to make a decision on until you are fully recovered?
ORTIZ: I am going to wait until I am a hundred percent recovered until I speak to anyone, on any type of level, about competing with their company. I still have about three and a half more months to recover. I have four more months left for the ‘right of match to refuse’ with the UFC. Four months my contract will be completely done. Same way that Andrei Arlovski did. So I will do the same thing myself. I just want the best for my future and the best for my fans. Is it here at Affliction? Possibly. Is it at the UFC? I thought I beat their Light Heavyweight champion, Rashad Evans, the last time I fought him. I beat Forrest Griffin. I still see myself at the top of the food chain. Chuck Liddell just suffered a huge knock out loss and it kinda scared me. All the stuff that has been said through Dana, about me and Chuck, that we are not friends…and Chuck said that. He knows the truth. Every time I see Chuck he says, ‘hello.’ I felt sorry when he got knocked out like that because that looked very, very vicious. I never got knocked out like that, ever. Even when I fought Chuck, I never got knocked out unconscious. That is scary to see a fighter like that. I wish him a speedy recovery and good luck in his next fight. I can not wait for the future, myself. July looks like the time point for me. Being a hundred percent, no excuses, no back problems to get into the ring or a cage and compete against the best. I think the fans deserve that. I am still only 33 years old and I still have got a good five years of competition left in me.
PRO MMA: Another man on this card, “Babalu” Sobral, after the second Chuck Liddell fight, there were rumors that you two would fight. Would he be an opponent that you would be looking at down the road?
ORTIZ: Of course! Babalu has said a lot of stuff about me. He wants to be famous. Fight a Tito Ortiz and he’ll be famous. He has talked a lot of smack and he needs to get through Sokoudjou before he can even think about fighting me. I am looking for my first opponent when I come back. I know Frank Shamrock has been talking a lot of smack. He is a little smaller, of course, but the last time we fought he was a lot smaller than me and he still beat me. I think that would be a huge pay-per-view and I think a lot of fans would love to see that fight. It is the ten-year reunion this year and I think a lot of fans would deserve some thing like that. It’s a great warm up fight for me…..and, yes, I said a warm up fight (laughs).
PRO MMA: Ten years ago, did you ever imagine seeing yourself sitting at a press conference for a fight card being promoted by M-1 Global, Oscar De La Hoya, as well as the involvement of Donald Trump?
ORTIZ: I didn’t imagine Trump being a part of it, ever! I knew De La Hoya and Golden Boy was going to have to come up. I put a call into him a couple years ago and I guess my prayers have been answered. He is here now and it’s awesome! He knows how to promote fighters. Not the brand, fighters and he makes superstars out of fighters. He is an awesome business man, just to be in the same room and to rub shoulders with a man of his status..I am very thankful. The same goes with Mr. Trump. I did ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ and it helped me hand over fist. I am just really excited to see this fight Saturday night. To see a great promoter like Golden Boy promotions and a great marketing team, like Trump, working with Affliction. This is a win-win situation for me, this is a win-win situation for all of the fighters that are apart of this. There isn’t just one big dog in the yard. There is a little puppy, eating that puppy chow and it is getting bigger.
PRO MMA: Thank you, very much for joining us today.
ORTIZ: With out a doubt. Of course, July 30th if any one is in Las Vegas, I am opening an MMA store. Punishment’s MMA Store. In the Hooters at Las Vegas, right across the street from the fight at the MGM. That is something I am getting into. It’s business time.
By: Matt De La Rosa