How sleazy is the business of MMA getting? I don’t know, and I’m going to speculate a lot here, but man if it smells like shit, looks like shit and tastes like shit, it is probably shit. OK, I really did pick Tito Ortiz to beat Rogerio Noguiera at UFC 140, I was stupid and I bought into the Tito Ortiz hype. Now I’m way on the other end of the spectrum. Here is why…
Much is made of Tito Ortiz’ win over Ryan Bader, it was seen as a sign of rejuventation of a career that had gone roughly five years since a win. If you take out two wins against Ken Shamrock, it is getting pretty damned close to six years since Ortiz tasted victory.
Ortiz is a PPV draw for the UFC, and he has made money in this sport. At 35 years old or thereabouts, he is likely to think he still has a few paydays left. He tried to sugar coat his new persona, ‘The People’s Champion’, during the press conferences but it was pretty clear it was all about the money for Ortiz now, more than ever. And facing Bader a fight ago, he was very close to gone. Both from relevance and from the UFC completely.
Face it Tito has sucked for many years now, and the Bader match, ending in a quick guillotine, is the only thing that keeps him alive.
Since MMA is a real sport, there are presumably no fake fights. And if someone tries it, pro wrestling has taught us that to make it look decent, it takes a lot of practice. So a guillotine on a sloppy shoot, that is an easy way to fake one. I’m just saying….
So let’s get back to Ryan Bader. The guy is talented. He won Season 8 of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality show, earning him the UFC contract.
Now, to a guy making five hundred bucks a fight, a UFC contract must look like a lottery ticket. But Bader is fighting cheap, with $100k spread over several fights. Bottom line is that to fight Ortiz, Tito made about $450k as reported to the athletic commissions, and Bader made $20k. Man that ‘TUF’ contract doesn’t look so good now, does it?
And here is where things get speculative. What if Tito bought a five hundred dollar plane ticket, and spent another $500 on dinner. This is to fly himself to Bader’s home town, you know, just to talk.
‘Look Ryan, you won a $100k contract. What if I give you $100k to work with me in this fight. Easy money, a guillotine early in the fight, make it look good’.
I don’t know if that is a reach or not. Tito still makes $350k, with a lot of other endorsements and perks, and he extends his career. And Bader gets a bump in bank account after doing a lot of dirty work cheap. Bader, coming off a loss to Jon Jones prior to the Ortiz fight, is still a commodity – but a six figure bonus will make people think.
Is the UFC involved in this? Keeping Ortiz, who is still a draw, on the roster may be in their best business interest. But if anything like the above dirty business happened, it was likely Ortiz making the offer directly to Bader. In that respect the business is still small and everyone knows each other.
Someone quick, drop in on Ryan Bader while he is not looking. Does he have a new Tag Hauer watch, or a 2012 Tahoe SUV? Bader is a good guy, but the contracts for ‘TUF” really need an upgrade – if not Bader, someone else will go down this path.
Don’t worry, if this isn’t the one, a scandal like this is coming to the MMA business. It is bound to happen.