Interview with UFC All-Star Tito Ortiz Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - June 2011
Tito Ortiz is one of the most famous people in UFC history. He is charismatic, intelligent and often controversial. He’s sold out more pay-per-views than any other fighter in the history of the UFC. Tito drew 775,000 buy rate viewers at UFC 61. (That is more buy rates than WrestleMania XVII got when Hulk Hogan faced The Rock.) Away from the UFC, Tito does lots of media work, and he gives to many different charities. Tito is also the owner of his own clothing brand, “Team Punishment”. Some additional accomplishments of Tito include:
1) Tito Ortiz has held the UFC light heavyweight Title longer than anyone in the history of the UFC, holding the title for 1,260 days.
2) Tito had a higher buy rate than one of the most popular WrestleMania’s of all time. WrestleMania XIX had one of the most loaded cards in WWE history. Stone Cold Steve Austin faced The Rock, Hulk Hogan faced Vince McMahon and Kurt Angle faced Brock Lesnar. However, Tito’s fight with Ken Shamrock had a much higher buyer rate. (775,000 to WrestleMania XIX’s 560,000.)
3) When thinking of pay-per-view sellouts most fans think of superstars like Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Macho Man Randy Savage. Tito does for the UFC what these stars do for WWE, selling out events and being a charismatic entertainer.
4) Tito has made appearances in films such as the 2008 comedy, Zombie Strippers. He also appeared in Cradle 2 the Grave and The Crow: Wicked Prayer.
5) Tito Ortiz also has his own book out called This Is Gonna Hurt.
In this historic in-depth interview, Ben Tatar goes one on one with one of the biggest household names in MMA history, The Huntington Beach bad boy, Tito Ortiz.
(Tito highlight video.)
CB: It’s Ben Tatar here, and today I am here with Tito Ortiz. Tito, since you have become a UFC Icon can you give us your advice for future UFC fighters?
Tito Ortiz: My message is work hard; never say no to PR, and keep building your brand. It’s marketing. You gotta do all types of charity work and work with the troops. That is what it all comes down to. Take Hulk Hogan in wrestling or Muhammed Ali in boxing, they were entertainers, and they gave back. The UFC has the same type of deal. You need something else to fall back on. Take Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and me, we do things away from fighting. It’s business and as you get older you gotta make sure you have something else to fall back on.
CB: Tito, not everyone is aware of how much charity work you do. Can you tell us about some of the different charities that you help?
Tito Ortiz: St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Give Back Hollywood Foundation, Racing for Kids, Orange Group Home, USCO Iraq Charities, Literal Rotational Speaking, Chalk Hospital, Long Beach Camporee Charities. I like to make a difference for kids.
(Tito Ortiz signing autographs.)
CB: You also have your own clothing brand, Team Punishment. How did you start that?
Tito Ortiz:I first started it in 1999 with $500 in my pocket, and it came down to making a business out of that relatively small amount of money. Now it is a multi-million dollar company. I am very happy with the promotions that I have gotten through it.
CB: Let’s talk about your fans for a minute. How do the kids usually respond to you? Would you say that the kids like you?
Tito Ortiz:The kids dig me!! They stand off at the beginning because I’m a big guy. I teach a wrestling submission class on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 7-12, and the kids really love it. I inspire the kids to push themselves in ways they have never been pushed before. As a result, they end up believing in themselves.
CB: How do the girls usually respond to you?
Tito Ortiz:The girls dig me! You know, 30-40% of the UFC fans are women now! Females also don’t usually come with their husbands or boyfriends, they come with other women!
CB: That’s awesome stuff. Where does some of your negative attention come from?
Tito Ortiz:It’s all to sell a pay-per-view! Outside of selling pay-per-views, I am a businessman, a father, and do positive stuff for everyone I meet.
CB: Do you hold anything against your haters?
Tito Ortiz:I have nothing against my haters. The people who don’t understand me don’t support me. The person who sells the fight and who I am away from the cage are different people. Away from the cage, I take pictures, treat everyone well, do charity and do autographs. I sometimes will sign autographs for 6 hours, and I make sure everyone goes home happy. I have been doing this for 14 years.
CB: Tito, a lot of people might see you as a role model. Do you want to be a role model?
Tito Ortiz:I don’t want to be a role model. I don’t want anyone else to model my life. There is only one Tito. Everyone has to be their own best possible self.
CB: What has been your all time favorite knockout?
Tito Ortiz: My favorite knockout was during my world title defense against Evan Tanner. I beat him in 32 seconds. I dropped him on his head. I trained for 9 weeks, and I had so much energy! It was like all this hard ass training for nothing. At that point, I realized that we get paid to train, not to fight. We go into the gym for 9 weeks. That is what we get paid for.
(Tito knocking out Tanner.)
CB: Now that is interesting! You get paid to train, not just to fight. Can you give me a great moment, crazy moment, and a moment that changed you the most related to your fighting career?
Great moment--A great moment was beating Wanderlei Silva for the championship. This was only after a year and a half of competition. In 2000, I beat Wanderlei by decision. I came from the streets, didn’t have a family and really came from nothing. To then be the World Champion was the greatest experience.
Craziest—The 2nd fight between Ken Shamrock and me. We both had to make 205lbs. He weighed in at 206. He then stepped it up and hit the scales at 205 ½. I also was 206 and made 205 after 10 minutes. It was just crazy making the weight and how they made such a big deal about it.
(Tito Ortiz Funny moments video.)
Moment that changed me the most--The moment that changed me the most as a person was having boys. I went from being careless and reckless to being a mature man supporting my boys.
CB: What a journey! Do you have any regrets?
Tito Ortiz:I am happy with the decisions that I have made. All my decisions have made me into who I am today. My decisions have made me one of the most famous fighters in the world .
CB: Tito, are you more proud of holding the UFC light heavy weight championship longer than any man in UFC history or for having the greatest ratings in UFC history for selling out pay-per-views?
Tito Ortiz:Both. It’s great that I have been able to do both.
CB: I agree. Nobody can claim one of those titles that you have and you have both! Tito, do you want your kids to be famous UFC champions someday?
Tito Ortiz:Well, I have a son Jacob who has been wrestling for 8 years. The rule is that he has to get his masters degree first. He has to finish school and get educated, that is number one. He won the midget state title in Arizona. He is 8 years old and 65lbs.
CB: That is big!
Tito Ortiz:Yeah, it’s huge. He’s a stud. He loves it. He said to me, “God put me on the earth to wrestle.” It put a tear in my eye.
CB: You’re also married to one of the most famous females on the planet, Jenna Jameson. How is Jenna as a mom and what bonded you with her?
Tito Ortiz:Jenna is a great mom! She has been through a lot, and we have a lot in common. I don’t judge people based on their past. I tried to save a girl who needed help. Some people put her through some bad stuff. I have such a big heart. I’m a white knight in shining armor. We had our Jesse and Journey together. They are both great.
(Tito and Jenna.)
CB: What are your future goals?
Tito Ortiz:My future goals are to continue with my fighting. I’m 36, and I want to still be fighting at 40. My next goal is to be in more movies. I will be taking acting classes and opening more gyms. I obviously, want to keep growing my Punishment Training Center. I want to evolve Punishment Athletics and Punishment Nutrition. My brand Punishment is for all athletics. I would also like to do the simple stuff in life like throw a football with my boys.
Check out Tito’s Punishment clothing lines and training center:
CB: Tito, you have the highest buy rate of any fighter in the history of the UFC. You have also had higher buy rates with some of your UFC fights than Vince McMahon did with some of his WrestleMania’s. How would you like to help Vince McMahon out and be in the WWE?
Tito Ortiz:I love the WWE. I always loved watching matches like the Hardy Boys versus the Dudley Boys. With all of my injuries, my body can’t be beaten like that, not on a regular basis anyways. I am a huge fan of Hulk Hogan and The Rock.
CB: Do you think it would be harder to be a WWE Wrestler or a UFC fighter?
Tito Ortiz:Physically, I would say it’s the same. WWE is hard because you’re on the road. They are taking bumps and beatings 250 times a year. In the gym, we take a beating all the time, but we fight two or three times a year. I give them a lot of respect.
Emotionally, we have it very hard because we don’t want to lose. The WWE wrestlers know who is winning and losing. With fighting, you want to win so much because each win and loss will stick with you for a long time.
CB: How do you want to be remembered?
Tito Ortiz:I want to be remembered as a legend! I want to be the Muhammad Ali of Mixed Martial Arts. I raised the bar. People will remember me as one of the greatest UFC champions. I have won. I work really hard to be who I am.
CB: Do you think that there is a difference between who gets remembered as the best fighter and who really is the best fighter?
Tito Ortiz:Some of the best fighters get forgotten. Some of the greatest fighters stand up against the system and they get forgotten. Frank Shamrock was one of the greatest champions of all time, but he stood up against the UFC and left. To be remembered forever doesn’t mean to just be the best champion ever, but it also means to not stand up against the system. Also, if a fighter wants to be remembered forever, they need to be remembered as something else other than just as a fighter. They need to do a lot of media work and PR away from fighting.
CB: Tito, you are a lot like Muhammad Ali. You’re entertaining, intellectually creative and you give back to the sport. Back when you were fighting Ken Shamrock, “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” you went 3-0 against him. Outside of the entertainment value, what is the positive in making Ken Shamrock snap?
Tito Ortiz:Well, in fighting, the idea is that if you can make someone so angry at you that they can no longer think straight they lose their fight plan. After my three fights with Ken, we shook hands after having one of the most entertaining rivalries in UFC history.
(Tito Ortiz going at it with Ken Shamrock on the Best Sports Show.)
CB: We know you have been in movies. What types of movies would you like to be in?
Tito Ortiz:I would like to be in action films and build my resume from there. I would also like to be in some real life motivational films to inspire people.
CB: Would you prefer the role of a hero/good guy in a movie or a controversial yet entertaining bad boy like you did during your MMA fighting career?
Tito Ortiz:I’m a soft hearted guy. The bad boy is an image used to sell fights. From a personality perspective, I am an Aquarius to the “T.” In a movie, I would prefer to be a good guy. There is a time and place for everything. I’m a quick learner. I follow emotions and people who help me see the right way. I listen well. I would just see how the script goes down and how it plays out.
(Tito Ortiz on the apprentice.)
(Tito on Mad TV.)
(Tito on fox sports, marketing his book and having a match against the guy on fox.)
CB: Ok, I am going to name a fighter. Give me the first word that comes to mind when I mention the following fighters:
Jon Bones Jones--Future
Forrest Griffin—Punching Bag
Frank Shamrock--Living Legend
CB: Tito, how are you getting along with the president of the UFC, Dana White now? Would you like to be in a UFC fight with him?
Tito Ortiz:Dana White and I are on good terms now. Everything with us is cool.
CB: What if you got to Main Event against anyone of the wrestlers at WrestleMania, who would you choose?
Tito Ortiz:Tito VS The Rock.
CB: That would be a money selling match. What would your move be to beat The Rock?
Tito Ortiz:The TITO TORPEDO…hahaha! I used to do this move in the back of the van to the front of the van where I would spear guys!
(Tito Ortiz Entrance.)
CB: Did you ever consider that you would be a UFC All-Star when you were a kid or a young teenager?
Tito Ortiz:When I was 16, I didn’t even know I would be a fighter. I thought I would be a wrestling coach. My idea was to help kids and be a special education teacher. Instead of giving back to 30 kids in a wrestling room, I now give back to millions of people across the United States. I finally found out at 22 that I wanted to be a fighter.
CB: That is interesting! What makes Tito Ortiz different from everyone else? Do you try to be different from everyone else?
Tito Ortiz:You can look at my career, haha. I try not to be different from anyone else, but it’s the hard work, dedication and having respect for myself. I stand up for all the fighters. I stand up for anyone who tries to become anything in mixed martial arts or in life.
CB: Give us a random Tito Ortiz fact.
Tito Ortiz:I’m good hearted. I help lots of fighters and people get confused about my image.
CB: What was it like working the reality show "The Ultimate Fighter 3"? You also were a coach on the reality show “The Ultimate Fighter 11.” What stands out from those two shows?
Tito Ortiz:Working the Ultimate fighter 3 was great. I went 9-3 against team Shamrock and it was great experience. We had Matt Hamill, Kendall Grove “The Spider,” Michael Bisping and many other great fighters. All the fighters just wanted to work, and it was such a positive experience.
Season 11 was a complete flip flop. The guys on the show didn’t want to work, and they were all complaining that they were training too hard. You know, they just wanted to be superstars over night. I also had a ruptured disk in my neck, and I had bone spurs affecting my spinal cord. There was just a lot of negativity during the shooting about fighting Chuck Liddell. I think that changed the recipe of the show from what it should have been. The first season was full of 205lb fighters and 185lb fighters who wanted to work, and it was just a great experience. What was funny about the 2nd season was that even though they tried to make me look bad, I still was perceived as a great coach despite all the negativity and adversity that was going on.
(Ultimate Fighter preview video )
CB: Tito do you have any words for your next opponent, Ryan Bader at UFC 132.
Tito Ortiz:I Ryan is a great fighter. I will defend the take down and control the tempo of the fight. It’s going to be a fun night.
CB: Well, we wish you the best against Ryan and in everything else that you do in your future. We’ve enjoyed watching you make headlines against the biggest names in the UFC. It has also been fun getting to know what you’re like behind the scenes. We know that success breeds success and that you will always be making history in the world of athletics and entertainment superstardom.
Tito Ortiz:Thanks Ben Tatar for the interview. I want to thank all of my fans for their support. Check out my clothing company Punishment Athletics at PunishmentAthletics.com