Just last week I was wondering what the fuck was up with Tito Ortiz and the UFC matching him up against Lyoto Machida. Well, it looks like an answer is becoming apparent: Tito still hasn’t signed a new contract with the UFC, so of course the UFC has basically benched him till his terms expire and is now sticking him up against someone who’s likely to make him look look like shit.
This isn’t new territory for the UFC … back when Brandon Vera (or his manager as the official story goes) was being a punk about re-signing with the UFC, they benched him and word was they were going to make his last fight against a human blanket like Carmello Marrero or Jake O’Brien. Oh, and of course this is still ongoing with Andrei Arlovski.
So now the UFC gets to basically stick it to Tito, while at the same time saying “You want to be paid like the best? Prove that you’ve still got it.” As Dave Meltzer says, it actually works both ways for the UFC:
Clearly, a fight with Machida is designed as a big name opponent to stamp Machida as a star to the American public. But it’s the classic win/win for the promotion, because a strong Ortiz, like him or not, can headline against any fighter on this list and through the rub, make them a bigger star to the buying public. And if he can put together a winning streak, he would once again draw huge numbers for a title match.
And here I was thinking they were being dumb, when they’re just being their usual cunning selves. I’d say it was a smart move if it wasn’t for the fact that their machinations are resulting in worse fights for the fans and might drive Tito into the arms of another promotion. I’m not the biggest Tito fan in the world myself but ya gotta recognize he’s got a lot of value and would be the world’s biggest pimp feather in the cap of a rival company.