One way or another, Tito Ortiz just can’t seem to catch a break. Once the light heavyweight champion of the UFC and the poster boy of the company, he is now seemingly more known for his out of cage antics than his fistic efforts. The last few years of Ortiz’s career have been very quiet from a competitive standpoint, but his personal life and professional life aside from what takes place within the cage have been anything but.
If you have not heard about the latest Tito news regarding Ortiz and his girlfriend, Jenna Jameson, the old “living under a rock” adage may apply. Still, here’s the summary: Ortiz is arrested under suspicion of domestic abuse, with Jenna showing “visible injuries”, Jameson initially seems likely to press charges, then Ortiz is released and denies any abuse in a press conference, instead citing an alleged drug addiction on Jameson’s part that led to the whole situation.
Then, not long later, both sides simply retract it all, apparently wanting nothing to do with what had happened over the previous few days. In the meantime, Jameson had passed a drug test and said that what had happened had “been dramatically distorted and misinterpreted”, further saying that “remarks that both Tito and I made after the police arrived reflect the state of shock that we were both in.”
Um….what was there to misinterpret? Jameson said that Ortiz harmed her, while Ortiz said he never laid a hand on her and instead pointed to an alleged drug problem on Jameson’s part. I’d say that both sides were fairly clear, there. Jameson, for her part, has not done much to relieve any of this so-called confusion in the wake of the events, saying things on her Twitter account like, “I have so much I could say but I refuse to ruin Tito”.
Okay, so we know a couple of things. One is that this is all quite a huge mess, which of course, doesn’t bode well for Ortiz no matter what happened earlier this week. Whether he inflicted bodily harm on Jameson, she is a drug addict, or even both, none of these outcomes are positive for the former light heavyweight champion. Another thing we know is that being an MMA writer in 2010 means checking for updates on Jenna Jameson’s Twitter page. What a sobering realization, indeed.
Regardless of whether Ortiz did what Jameson said he did, he still faces an uphill battle to regain any kind of relevance within the sport that granted him all of this stardom. Ortiz’s case has always been a strange one: he’s without many real competitive accomplishments in the post-TUF era, yet he has somehow grown much more famous during the sport’s explosion. I have often wondered how exactly his stature has increased so when fans who came along after Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar slugged it out for three rounds have barely seen Ortiz do any actual winning.
For two lengthy periods since the TUF explosion, Ortiz has been a “free agent”, with the most recent time being the best example of Ortiz playing the field. However, it is unclear how much interest other organizations such as Strikeforce and the now-defunct Affliction really had in him. He would be seen at events, talking about how fans would hear something “real soon” about who he would be fighting for, and then…nothing. Of course, there was the back surgery he underwent, the recovery period, and more and more of the waiting that MMA fans have grown accustomed to when it came to Ortiz.
When he came back to the UFC, it may have been without some of the usual excitement that would come after Ortiz would return from a lengthy absence. That excitement certainly did not build when Ortiz was beaten by Forrest Griffin in a close decision for his first fight back, an event that culminated in Ortiz yet again relaying his most recent injuries to the live crowd.
The stint on “The Ultimate Fighter: Liddell vs. Ortiz” was supposed to bring his name back into the headlines for more positive reasons, leading up to a third fight between the two. Ortiz had to like his chances at least a little bit more than before this third fight, as Liddell is coming off of a long layoff and has had trouble in his last few fights. However, we all know how this one ended- with more nonsense, as Ortiz steadfastly denied having to drop out of the bout before it was announced weeks later that Liddell would, in fact, be facing Rich Franklin instead of Ortiz.
It seems that every time Ortiz tries to get back into the mix as a legitimate light heavyweight contender, his efforts backfire against him. It certainly does not help that he is now facing public turmoil regarding what is supposed to be his personal life. Perhaps Ortiz will shy away from having such a public romance in the future. One had to think from the very beginning that Ortiz, who goes to great lengths to encourage a reputation for himself as a savvy businessman, probably enjoyed the media coverage of his relationship with the woman who was formerly the most famous adult film star in the world. However, such notoriety surely has drawbacks, particularly when things go sour and your significant other is left to throw you under the bus via her Twitter account.
Although Dana White intimated that Ortiz could be cut if the charges against him stuck (while noting that domestic violence was right after going on a “killing spree” on the what-not-to-do list…no mention of where going on a rampage in your SUV and endangering others ranks, though), it does not look like we are headed in that direction. You have to wonder if Ortiz is in a must-win situation now, though. His relevance within the division he once ruled is dwindling further with each loss or month of inactivity, and White probably is not enjoying the negative media attention, either.
If Ortiz wants to continue enjoying the benefits of stardom, there are no two ways about it. He’s going to have to go back to what got him where he is today: winning fights.