UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz said it’s true he once fought UFC President Dana White on a private plane. But he remembers the experience a little differently.
“Yes, of him (saying) stop stop Tito!!!!” Ortiz wrote to MMAjunkie via text message. “I was manhandling him. But it was fun.”
White this past week appeared on TBS’ “Conan,” and the subject of Ortiz came up. White claimed he and Ortiz were taking off on the private plane of the UFC’s former co-owners, Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, when they began roughhousing.
“We were on a private plane on our way to Japan, and it was my partners, the Fertitta brothers, myself, Tito Ortiz and our matchmaker at the time, Joe Silva,” White told host Conan O’Brien. “Tito and I were messing around, and he put me in what’s called a neck crank.
“I was tapping, and he didn’t stop. You can seriously hurt somebody in a neck crank, especially as big and strong as Tito is. So I just started blasting him in the ribs – started punching him in the ribs – and when he let go, (I) just jumped up, and it was just a full blown fistfight in the plane. We were literally taking off, and the plane was (going back and forth), and the Fertitta brothers had to jump in and break up the fight.”
Ortiz didn’t go into detail about that portion of the fight. White said the two were separated at opposite ends of the plane, and that’s where it ended, at least for the moment.
The promoter and former champ’s rocky relationship is well-known to the MMA world. White, Ortiz’s former manager, once agreed to an exhibition boxing match with the fighter and filmed a Spike special around it. They shared countless barbs in the media. Ortiz once weighed in for a fight wearing a T-shirt that insulted White.
Amid contract renegotiations later in his career, Ortiz refused to negotiate with White, preferring to work with now-former UFC executive Lorenzo Fertita.
But after many ups and downs, Ortiz said White was among those who texted him well-wishes after his retirement fight at Bellator 170.
“I love the guy, man,” Ortiz (19-12-1 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) told ESPN following the fight. “He was my first manager. I always just fought for what I wanted in my career. No hard feelings. I’ve grown up a lot over the last four years.”
White subsequently defended Ortiz’s performance in the fight, a submission victory over three-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA). He batted down allegations of fight-fixing and noted Ortiz’s strong neck cranks.
Of course, he was speaking from experience.
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