Dana White Reveals Oblivious Tito Ortiz’s Massive Involvement in UFC Purchase

Published 12/21/2022, 11:45 AM EST
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 24: UFC President Dana White interacts with media during the UFC on FOX press conference on January 24, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

While Dana White played a pivotal role in growing the UFC into a $4 billion worth enterprise, UFC legend Tito Ortiz may have unconsciously kicked off the whole gig. The UFC head honcho is a hard balling businessman who elevated the UFC to astronomical heights. Over the years, White has promoted several stars who brought huge profits to the company.

However, it may have been the former light heavyweight champion Ortiz who unintentionally sent White down the promotional path. According to a recent account from White, it was a conversation about Ortiz that planted the idea to purchase the promotion in his head.

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White recounted the entire story during an interview with American entrepreneur Grant Cardone.

Dana White reveals the story behind the UFC purchase

Dana White told Cardone about his early days in the fight business. Before buying the UFC with the Fertitta brothers, White represented UFC greats like Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. According to the 53-year-old’s revelation, the idea of purchasing the UFC stemmed from a conversation about Tito Ortiz.

“I got into a huge contract battle with the old owner Bob Meyrowitz over Tito’s contract. And then finally he flipped out and said, “You know what? There is no more f***ing money. I don’t even know if I have enough money to put on another event…”

He continued, “I hung up the phone and was like, ‘damn, alright.’ So I called the brothers… the Fertittas, and I said the UFC’s in trouble, I think we could buy it and I think we should.”

HOUSTON, TEXAS – MAY 15: UFC President Dana White waits to place the UFC lightweight championship belt on Charles Oliveira of Brazil after defeating Michael Chandler in their lightweight championship bout during the UFC 262 event at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

White said he connected Lorenzo Fertitta with Meyrowitz and the trio completed the purchase of the UFC months later. The deal went down for almost two million dollars, according to White.

While Ortiz inadvertently and obliviously became a reason for the landmark purchase, he did not have a great relationship with his manager turned boss, Dana White. The feud between the pair became public, and neither pulled any punches while talking about the other.

Tito Ortiz on his time in the UFC

The feud between Dana White and Tito Ortiz was one that had enormous entertainment value back in the day. It escalated to a point where the employer and employee decided to fight each other in a boxing match. However, the fight never materialized after Ortiz pulled out due to failed contract negotiations.

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Despite their beef, Ortiz played a significant role in the company in its infant stages. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” appeared on Paddy Pimblett‘s Chattin Pony podcast earlier this year. During their conversation, the former light heavyweight champion revealed he fought for free in his first fight for the UFC.

“My first fight in UFC 13, May 30th, 1997. I fought as an amateur. I fought free.” Ortiz also shared that he was “the only UFC fighter in the UFC history that fought for free.” He also revealed that he once fought twice in one night as well.

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What are your thoughts on Tito Ortiz’s role in the purchase and success of the UFC? Where do you rank him among your UFC greats? Let us know in the comments below.

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Yeswanth Praveen

335 articles

Yeswanth Praveen is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. His interests mainly lie in the realm of MMA, bodybuilding, and the fitness industry. He finished his Master's in English literature from EFLU, Hyderabad.

Edited By: Vineet Nandwana

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