UFC: Legend Tito Ortiz to manage stars of the future
With UFC Nottingham just around the corner we catch up with one of the stars of TUF Live, the exuberant Andy Ogle and hear about the fighting ethos which makes Team Kaobon one of the UK’s strongest camps. We also find out about the post retirement plans of one of the UFC’s most polarising figures and learn that Frankie Edgar is finally listening to reason as he looks set to shake up the featherweight division…
To any of the uninitiated Tito Ortiz is one of most celebrated 205lb champions in UFC history. He is also a lightning rod for controversy and usually garners fans and haters in equal measure. Ortiz has this week announced the next step in his post-fighting career. The recently inducted Hall of Famer has embarked upon a career in sports management and it does appear to be a perfect fit.
Ortiz was a pivotal figure in MMA and indeed the UFC turning the proverbial “corner” from a financially unviable social pariah to a powerhouse of global sports. The former sparring partner of Tank Abbott grew up in a home consumed with drug addiction and channeled his considerable energies into fighting. A talented wrestler with an eye for the outlandish Ortiz enjoyed a tumultuous relationship with his former manager turned UFC President Dana White. Whilst Ortiz admitted himself that he was a pain in the rear to work with he brought eyes to the organization when it desperately needed a star. His UFC 40 clash with Ken Shamrock was one of the first highlights of the Zuffa era and his battles with fellow Octagon legend Chuck Liddell did as much as any others to bring PPV eyes to an embryonic, faltering sporting entity.
Perhaps appropriately Ortiz will now represent aspiring and established UFC stars as a manager. He has this week announced the launch of his new company Primetime 360 Entertainment and Sports Management. In my mind it has parallels with Oscar De La Hoya making the transition from athlete to manager in the unforgiving world of combat sports. With Ortiz’ penchant for a quote and PR nous it does appear that the former “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” will remain in the spotlight that he so obviously revels in.
Ogle embraces Nottingham pressure
I challenge anyone to spend a few minutes in the company of UFC new boy Andy Ogle and not come away with a smile on their face. The Newcastle scrapper spoke to The Independent online this week about his upcoming bout with Akira Corassani at UFC on Fuel TV 5 which of course takes place in Nottingham next month. Having interviewed many fighters over the years, you do encounter some real characters. Chris Leben, Marcus Davis, Mike Swick and BJ Penn all spring to mind as memorable interviewees who talk the talk and then proceed to back it up without hesitation. What interested me about Ogle is that at the age of 23 years old, making his UFC proper debut in front of his fellow countrymen is how calm and cerebral he is.
Many fighters will attest that making your UFC debut on home soil is a double edged sword. The excitement can become overwhelming as you feel the weight of expectation of a nation bearing down upon you. In essence an entire career of literal blood, sweat and tears can come down to fifteen minutes of fistic fury. That coupled with the fact that an exceptionally poor performance can mean the dreaded pink slip the pressure to perform means that many fighters approach their date with destiny with a fair degree of apprehension. Not so Ogle. I believe that his mindset is spot on the money.
Fighting within four to five hours of his home in the north-east Ogle looks at the positives of making the relatively short trip to the Capital FM Arena as opposed to America’s west coast. When asked who he looks up to in the fight game Ogle was unambiguous
“To be honest I don’t really look up to anyone. I respect anyone who steps into the cage. At Team Kaobon everyone is equal and it is that mentality which breed success”
Ogle went on to relay a humorous anecdote to illustrate the team’s mentality
“At Kaobon we have what we call “Terror Tuesdays” which are exceptionally tough training days. Lots of punishment and pain and the rounds are fought at 110%. A couple of weeks ago on “Terror Tuesday” a guy walks into the gym and starts to rant at the top of his voice, “The Greatest is here, the greatest is here, the champ Evander Holyfield is here”.
Ogle continues with a grin
“And in walks Evander Holyfield with his minders, obviously expecting the fighters to stop what they were doing. We just kept sparring and doing the usual “Terror Tuesday” stuff and I think he was a bit miffed. But that is what Team Kaobon is all about. We are all equal and all confident in our own abilities. We don’t get overawed by anyone”
When asked as to where he holds the advantage against the aggressive Swedish native Corassani Ogle stated
“He is a tough all-rounder and he comes out real hard at the start of his fights. But I can keep the same pace in every round. I’m improving in all areas and concentrating on improving all aspects of my game so that I am a dangerous opponent wherever the fight goes. Some people think that British fighters are one dimensional bangers but I aim to show that I have good takedown defense and can submit people myself”
Reaching the UFC is of course the Holy Grail of most mixed martial artists and Ogle is no different. Other fighters have found to their cost that fighting for the world’s biggest promotion too early in their careers can however prove to be too much too soon and hamper their longevity in the sport. Ogle however sees no such downside
“I didn’t think I’d make it to the UFC as early as I did but it was inevitable that I’d get here. Time is on my side and I have a lot of years left in this sport. I’ve never had any injuries and I treat my body well. This is all I want… all I want to do is fight and fight well”
Spoken like a true professional.
Edgar moves to featherweight
New Jersey dynamo Frankie “The Answer” Edgar has at last heeded calls to drop down to the 145lb division. He will do so with his head held high as even hulking lightweight champ Ben Henderson was unable to decisively impose his will on the gutsy former 155lb title holder. With two razor thin title losses in the rear view mirror Edgar had been implored by UFC brass to consider a drop south. He will undoubtedly make waves in a still fluid featherweight division and may be as little as one fight from a shot at Jose Aldo’s strap. Now that fight would be one to stay up late for…
As the build-up to UFC 151 continues, check out my piece in Betfair this week on future Hall of Famer, Dan “Hendo” Henderson, by clicking here.
Join me on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an article on upcoming UFC events…
*Dan Henderson has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled title fight next weekend in Las Vegas. Lyoto Machida was intially announced to be Jones’ next opponent but it is thought that Vitor Belfort will now face Jones on September 22nd at UFC 152.
However, click here to read about my meeting with Octagon legend Dan Henderson. Hendo will no doubt be back to challenging for UFC honours again soon
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