Tito Ortiz (Pictures) knows it’s all about the timing.
Which is why most of the fight community tuned in to a news conference Wednesday in Las Vegas for the Oct. 11 Affliction 2 "Day of Reckoning" only to hear that the fighter would not only not be attending, but also that he has not yet been signed by the promotion.
SI.com reported Tuesday that the boisterous light heavyweight had become a free agent on Monday and was hours away from announcing a deal with Affliction, though the report was later updated to describe Ortiz’s signing as a possibility.
Legal counsel for Affliction Entertainment said Wednesday that Ortiz’s signing was only a “rumor,” and that when he was released from his contractual obligations, the promotion would be interested in signing him.
“Don Trump Jr., myself and Tito engaged in a conversation,” said Michael Cohen, executive vice president of The Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, who started a business relationship with the promotion in June. “There is nothing substantive that was discussed other than the fact we are interested in sitting down with him, which we're planning on doing in the very near future.”
Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio would not address Ortiz's claims to SI.com that the potential deal would be a “ground-breaking record contract” that included duties outside the ring as well. Atencio said he has not yet spoken with Ortiz.
Ortiz, 33, recently satisfied a multi-fight contract with the UFC. He has served as one of the promotion’s top three draws for the last 11 years. It is believed Ortiz has recently completed a “matching period” that is standard within the promotion’s contracts in which Zuffa can match any rival offers made for the fighter’s services.
Disillusionment between UFC President Dana White and the polarizing Ortiz has been well documented, and the fighter has publicly commented that he would not re-sign with the UFC on numerous occasions.
Ortiz has been here before, however. In 2005, the fighter strongly hinted he would be signing with the now-defunct World Fighting Alliance, only to come to terms with Zuffa’s majority owner, Lorenzo Fertitta, in the negotiation’s eleventh hour.
The December 2006 rematch between Ortiz and Chuck Liddell (Pictures) remains the highest grossing MMA pay-per-view in the sport’s history, reportedly netting more than 1 million buys.
Ortiz (15-6-1) dropped a unanimous decision to Lyoto Machida (Pictures) (13-0) at UFC 84 “Ill Will” on May 24 in Las Vegas, marking Ortiz’s second loss in three fights.
Brian O'Hara contributed to this report.