Ortiz fills in at UFC 133

UFC president Dana White lifted a corner of the veil on MMA fight negotiations Thursday, taking a swipe at former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida in the process.

TORONTO — UFC president Dana White lifted a corner of the veil on MMA fight negotiations Thursday, taking a swipe at former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida in the process.

In a media conference call Thursday, White outlined his take on attempts to fill an injury hole in the main event of UFC 133, slated for Aug. 6 in Philadelphia.

White got his man, but not before one former champion demanded more money and another surprisingly stepped to the plate.

White, needing an replacement for the injured Phil (Mr. Wonderful) Davis, said Machida’s camp agreed to step in against Rashad Evans in the UFC 133 marquee matchup.

Then, according to White, the Machida camp came back and asked for “Anderson Silva money” — a reference to the UFC middleweight champion who is considered by many to the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

“I opted not to pay him Anderson Silva money and told him when he accomplished all the things that Anderson Silva has accomplished, then maybe he’ll make Anderson Silva-type money,” an incredulous White told reporters.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘Can I get this, can I get that, I’m taking this thing on short notice,’” he added. “But to call and say ‘You know what? You give me Anderson Silva money and I’ll take this fight.’

“What makes you think you deserved Anderson Silva money? You haven’t accomplished anywhere near what Anderson Silva has accomplished. I just think it’s completely disrespectful and a slap in the face to us and to Anderson Silva. Very weird and very unlike Lyoto Machida.”

A call and text to Machida’s management were not immediately returned.

But Machida (17-2) himself tweeted: “All stories have two sides.”

It’s not the first time injury has knocked out the UFC 133 main event. Davis himself had been called in earlier for injured light-heavyweight champion Jon (Bones) Jones. But White started searching for another possible marquee man after hearing Davis had hurt his knee. While awaiting results of an MRI on Monday, he started working the phone.

His first call was to former champion Tito (The Huntington Beach Bad Boy) Ortiz. The UFC boss said he tried the 36-year-old Ortiz because he was coming off a win over Ryan (Darth) Bader earlier this month at UFC 132 in which he had escaped damage. So he was fit and in shape.

Ortiz told him “he had some personal stuff going on and didn’t want to jump back into training camp.”

White then tried Machida, who had stripped Evans of his title at UFC 98 in May 2009.

“He accepted the fight and was very excited about it,” White said.

After the tests confirmed Davis’s injury, White said he called the Machida camp back — only to get an earful of money demands.

White said Ortiz then phoned him and asked if he still needed a fighter to face Evans (20-1-1). Told yes, Ortiz said he would speak to his camp and get back to White. A day later, the former champion took the fight.

Tweeted Ortiz: “I’m an average man with a monster heart. UFC asked me for my help and I’m here for them. Just want to show my true character by stepping up.”

Ortiz (17-8-1) did not ask for anything extra to fight Evans, according to White.

Then again, the former champion earned a hefty US$500,000 for his submission win over Bader, according to figures released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

“We signed that deal with Tito a long time ago,” said White, intimating that the big number was a legacy of Ortiz’s glory days.

The UFC had in fact made clear that it would cut Ortiz, who had gone 0-4-1 since his last win in October 2006, if he lost to Bader. Now, he may get a new contract if he beats Evans.

White said he would consider Ortiz in the “top three” of the volatile light-heavyweight division if he beats Evans.

“If he beats Rashad, Tito Otiz is back,” he said.

The two former champions fought to a draw when they met at UFC 73 in July 2007.

Asked whether he expects fighters to demand more money when asked to step up on short notice, White said it depends on who you are dealing with.

“I did not expect that from Lyoto Machida, no,” he said.

And he expressed shock that someone would take a fight and then later ask for more money, let alone “Anderson Silva money.”

“Anderson Silva has gone undefeated in the UFC since 2006, he’s broken every record there is in the UFC. He moved up a weight class and beat two guys at 205 (pounds) easily and has dominated and cleaned out an entire 185-pound division. And you want his money?” asked an incredulous White.

“I don’t even know how to put a word on that.”

White said the issue would not sour his relationship with Machida however, saying “People lose their mind sometimes, people get crazy. Who knows. Maybe Machida’s camp did that and he didn’t even know. I don’t even know.

“I guarantee he knows they did it now. This guy was telling me all he wants to do is get back in there and fight as soon as possible and all this. Well he had his opportunity.”

It’s hard to peg exactly what “Anderson Silva money” is since the UFC is tight-lipped on what it pays fighters. Not every athletic commission releases purse information and even if they do, the figure is usually incomplete.

For example, Silva’s purse for his UFC 126 knockout of Vitor Belfort was listed at $200,000 — $75,000 less than Belfort’s.

Silva also picked up $75,000 for KO of the night but his actual paycheque was probably $2 million higher than what was made public.

Machida’s purse at UFC 104, when he defended his title against Mauricio (Shogun) Rua, was listed at $200,000 by the California State Athletic Commission. It too would likely have been topped up by the UFC but not to the extent that Silva’s was.

Machida’s management would certainly know who made what since it also looks after Silva’s affairs.

While the face of the UFC was slamming the Machida camp, Ortiz was being feted on the front page of www.ufc.com with the headline “Tito’s Back.”

Should Evans win, he will face the winner of the bout between Jones and Quinton (Rampage) Jackson, yet another former 205-pound title-holder.

If necessary, White said his next Davis replacement option would have been to call Vladimir Matyushenko, who is slated to fight Alexander Gustafsson on the UFC 133 card.

The UFC boss also said middleweights Chael Sonnen and Chris (The Crippler) Leben both texted to offer themselves as potential opponents in the 205-pound main event.

“I told them both they weigh 185 pounds but thanks for texting,” he said.