Long before the Conor McGregor era of mixed martial arts, pay-per-view drawing power didn’t come much greater than that of Tito Ortiz.
The UFC’s original bad boy, Ortiz dominated the promotion’s light heavyweight division for a number of years and his rivalry with Chuck Liddell was the stuff of legend.
While he has gone in a divisive direction since leaving the UFC, Ortiz’s accomplishments in the Octagon cannot be questioned and he was inducted into the UFC’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
Nowadays, the financial ceiling for MMA fighters is significantly higher than it was in Ortiz’s prime and Conor McGregor has been credited with playing a significant role in leading that change.
Ortiz recently recalled his first meeting with McGregor, in 2017, when he advised ‘The Notorious’ to prioritise his family over all else.
“I spoke to Conor McGregor after he fought Floyd Mayweather,” Ortiz told Sports Matters, hosted by Jerry Coughlan.
“It was the first time I ever met him, and I said ‘Man I respect what you’re doing.’ And he was like ‘Wow, Tito Ortiz. Holy shit!’
“But I was like, ‘No, seriously but at the end of the day don’t forget about two things. Your family and your kids. That’s what’s important!’ Because at the end of the day that’s what you have to go home to.”
It seems like McGregor has been employing Ortiz’s advice in recent years as he has appeared much more respectful ahead of bouts against Donald Cerrone and Dustin Poirier.
After Poirier beat McGregor in their rematch earlier this year, he admitted he found the lead-up much easier than the first fight because of the lack of trash talk. Poirier suggested that perhaps McGregor’s family situation is the reason for his calmer demeanour lately.
“He did the same thing with ‘Cowboy’ and I thought maybe it was just him maturing,” Poirier said on The Joe Rogan Experience.
“He’s got a couple of kids now and another on the way. Maybe he’s just maturing and we all change. Maybe he’s a different person now.”