Once bitter rivals, MMA pioneers Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock joined forces Thursday, appearing on "Off The Record" (OTR) with Michael Landsberg in a no holds barred interview. Hardcore MMA fans will remember these two for their epic trilogy that occurred between 2002 and 2006. Their fights were often credited for the UFC's early mainstream success. During the interview, discussion included fighter salaries and criticisms of UFC President Dana White's compensation towards UFC fighters.
"Dana White is an excellent promoter - He goes out and promotes the sport for what it is. But he's not the one getting in the cage, that's entertaining the fans who are watching and buying the pay-per views." said Ortiz via satellite.
"(These) fighters are the ones who are stepping in and putting our lives on the line and (providing) entertainment for fans to watch the fights."
The former UFC 205lb title holder, who is now signed with the Bellator Fighting Championships, also claims it was him and Shamrock who were responsible for where the promotion is today, not the UFC President.
"(Myself) and Ken were probably the ones who sold the biggest pay-per- view fights to date."
The 49-year old Shamrock shares the same sentiment and believes it was the fighters who aided in the UFC's success.
"If Dana White didn't have you (Tito Ortiz), Chuck (Liddell), me or Frank (Shamrock) - for him to be able to make the money off our back, our sweat, our blood. Where would he be?" said Shamrock.
He added "Without the charisma and talent that we (displayed at that time). Dana wouldn't have a job right now. "
For the former Ultimate Fighter coach Shamrock has also been battling outside the cage, owing $175,000 to the UFC stemming from a three-year court order. While he couldn't get into specifics, Shamrock believes it should be the other way around.
"It's kind of funny when people talk about owing. When you look at how much money was made in the UFC when I was there and the buy rates that were being brought in."
"When I came in, I told (Dana White) that I promise you that these (pay-per-view) buy rates will jump over 100,000 (purchases). He didn't believe me. Then lied to me about what the buy rates were because he didn't want to pay me what I was supposed to get."
"If anybody owes money, (Dana White) owes the fighters money," Shamrock added.
When asked if Ortiz had been reasonably compensated throughout his career, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" shook his head.
"Reasonably? Not Reasonably. I'm well off for the surgeries that I've had. And the things I got to look forward to when I'm fifty, sixty years old, no"
One topic brought up was the sport of boxing and how these athletes make far more money than MMA fighters. Ortiz believes UFC fighter salaries should be on par with boxers
"I look at a guy like Floyd Mayweather who makes 42 million dollars for a pay-per-view. What am I doing different that this guy is doing? I'm not just sparring, I'm going there trying to hurt a guy.
"I think you're forgetting we're the fighters, we're putting on the show," Ortiz added.
On November 2nd Ortiz makes his Bellator debut in the main event on the promotions first ever pay-per-view. This has warranted criticisms from fans as the 38-year old has gone 1-6 in his last seven fights. But the father of three defends those claims, citing that half of his losses in particular to Forrest Griffin, Matt Hamill and Lyoto Machida all went to the judges' scorecards
"I've always fought the top guys in the world. I've got split decisions, decisions," said Ortiz
When asked if he is ready for the fight, Ortiz responded "My mind's straight, my body's straight"
Shamrock added that he will be tuning in as well. "I'm going to watch it. I think if you don't buy it you're going to miss a really great fight."
Tune into Ortiz taking on former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson Saturday November 2nd at the Convention and Entertainment Center in Long Beach, California for Bellator 106.