Mixed martial arts has its own little Rashomon.
Last week UFC president Dana White appeared on Conan, and said at one point he and Tito Ortiz got into a fist fight on the corporate jet.
“Tito and I were messing around and he put me in what’s called a ‘neck crank,’” said White. “I was tapping and he didn’t stop. You can seriously hurt somebody in a neck crank. Especially somebody as big and strong as Tito. So I just started blasting him in the ribs. Started punching him in the ribs.
“And when he let go, just jumped up and it was a full-blown fist fight in the plane. And we were literally taking off and the plane was going like this. And the Fertitta brothers had to jump in and break up the fight.”
“Yes, of him stop stop Tito!!!!” texted Ortiz. “I was manhandling him. But it was fun.”
The pair had a highly contentious relationship but reconciled by the time Ortiz retired after working for UFC rival Bellator MMA. Ortiz received a congratulatory text from White, and indicated his appreciation during a post fight interview.
“I love the guy, man,” said Ortiz to ESPN. “He was my first manager. I always just fought for what I wanted in my career. No hard feelings. I’ve grown up a lot over the last four years.”
When doubts were voiced about whether Tito’s final fight, vs. Chael Sonnen, was a work or not, White defended him.
“It was my first Bellator event,” said White, as transcribed by Tim Burke for BE. “I watched it, and both guys are 40-something years old. It was basically a retirement fight, and a lot of people were calling it a fix. There’s no way.”
“Here’s one of the things a lot of people don’t realize about Tito Ortiz. Tito Ortiz, this f***ing guy is so strong. He put me in a neck crank one time and almost popped my f***king neck off my shoulders.”
“There’s no way in hell that was a work. I’d love to come on here and s*** all over Bellator, but there’s no way that was a work. The thing you’ve got to remember, he’s a good wrestler, never was Chael some big jiu-jitsu guy. And when Tito Ortiz is cranking your f***ing head off, you’re 40 f***ing years old…maybe I should tap out here.”
White would know.