Tito Ortiz: The Self-Promoting Champion of Guerrilla Marketing

James Ryan

There’s an old expression that always comes to mind whenever I think of Tito Ortiz: Court Attention at All Cost.

“Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger; more colourful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.”

As much as I tend to dislike Tito Ortiz as a fighter (and his unsavoury antics both inside and outside of the Octogon), I have to give credit where credit is due. Tito Ortiz, the self-described “Huntington Beach Bad Boy”, is all about self-promotion and no doubt thanks to the assistance of his new wife Jenna Jameson (world famous pornographic film star), he has in fact become quite good at it.

So what exactly is Guerrilla Marketing?

Guerrilla Marketing can be any unconventional way of performing promotional activities on a very low-to-non-existent budget. Such promotions are sometimes designed so that the target audience is often left unaware they have even been marketed to and it may therefore be considered a form of subliminal marketing (but not always).

Instead of money (and a focus on a more conventional means of advertising such as radio and television), the primary investments of Guerrilla Marketing would only have to be time, energy and an enormous amount of creative imagination.

Let’s examine motivation for a moment:

Motivation and each persons’ desire to succeed (or not) is a very interesting facet to our every day part of life.

We are all driven to do things based on the pain/pleasure principle, which essentially means that we are all driven to do things based more on the avoidance of pain. Only when the benefit can outweigh the risk and potential harm, will people truly act in accordance with their goals.

For Tito, the pain of losing his fight against Forrest Griffin at the upcoming UFC 106 event, is far outweighed by the amount of publicity and product awareness that Tito will no doubt generate for his company “Punishment Athletics”. The money and notoriety far outweighs any potential embarrassment that could come as a result of losing the fight (something that Tito is all too familiar with).

Consider these examples, comparing two very well-known MMA fighters:

Both of these men are former UFC Champions and both are arguably at the end of their careers – but only one of them fights for the glory and challenge of overcoming the odds and being his personal best, while the other is clearly only looking to garner as much attention as he can for himself and his upstart enterprise.

At the age of 46, Randy “The Natural” Couture returned to the UFC Light Heavyweight Division and immediately declared an interest in fighting Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (UFC LHW Champion). At this stage in his career, I think that a lot of people would agree that Randy Couture has very little to prove to anybody but to himself perhaps.

At the age of 35, Tito Ortiz is set to make his much anticipated return (yes – I’m joking) to the Light Heavyweight Division this upcoming Saturday at UFC 106. For a man determined to regain his dominance as a top professional fighter, wouldn’t it make more sense that he too would want to send out a challenge (or at least a strong and public desire to challenge) directed towards the current champion Machida (a man who had already beaten Ortiz at UFC 84)?

Instead, Ortiz calls out the likes of Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell (retired?), to whom he had already lost to convincingly on two separate occasions – UFC 47 and UFC 66.

The biggest question is: Why?

The quickest and easiest answer is: Publicity.

The ultimate effect: When people think about MMA, they naturally think about guys like Tito Ortiz. His name has become branded and synonymous with MMA. At this stage in his career (much like Randy Couture), the wins and losses have little to no effect on his public perception or reputation.

While none of this probably comes as much of a surprise to many, I would have to think that if I were a betting man, I would put all of my money on Forrest Griffin to win this weekend.

Forrest’s motivation is very strong indeed. Just ask Michael “The Count” Bisping about the pressure associated with overcoming the dark shadow of public humiliation and embarrassment. For Forrest, it’s much more serious than selling a few hats and t-shirts.

Stick to broadcasting Tito – it’s unfortunately what you do best at this stage in your career (and no, I don’t think that you’re very good at it, but we’ll just have to examine that together another time I’m afraid).


James Ryan
James Ryan


  1. Good article James. You give some interesting scenarios to the mindset of the one time phenom. I have always enjoyed seeing Tito on the fight card because at the very least, he is entertaining.

  2. I have always been a Tito guy even though he can be a douche. I have a feeling that after he finally decides to stop fighting he will have a good career as a trainer.

  3. Very insightful piece here. I agree that Tito is one of the best at making his presence known and capitalizing on his efforts in more ways than one.
    He is a staple in the MMA community. Love him or hate him, his tenure in the sport will take him down in MMA history.
    Overall a very colorful character, and has been pretty good for the sport in his ventures to be good for himself.
    Even if you dont like Tito you have to hand it to him for his accomplishments and even his shortcomings in a way have been good for the sport.
    Not super interested in watching him become another “last years model” MMA veteran try to resurrect his career. But I will watch just the same, its whats on. Honestly I wish him and all fighters well. Hope it works out for him, even if I can think of other fights Id rather watch. Take care.

  4. 'm actually really looking forward to see what Tito can do, so maybe I've bit on Tito's latest marketing attempt.

    However, I am a Tito fan, and have always enjoyed his fights. Sometimes his antics can be little too much, but when he was on TUF, he showed a different side (or maybe Ken Shamrock is that crazy, so Tito looked normal) and I think he's been one of the better fighter coaches on TUF. Only a few have been really good.

    Good read though, Tito definitely knows how to promote!

  5. Hey Joey :)

    He has his good qualities and admittedly, I tend to typically focus on the not so good. I remember the win over Shamrock the most when Tito shot him the double middle finger after he won. I was impressed that Ken showed a lot of class and I guess Tito really turned me off after that. I know those guys have a lot of history together, so maybe I was being too judgmental based on that one situation. The grave digging annoys me. haha :)

    I like to see people win with respect. I tell my players all the time that the only thing worse than a sore loser is a poor winner. I think a person should win with class, but that's me and how I am. I know not everyone is like that tho. Tito is Tito I guess.

    When it comes to being a good role model for young athletes, I have very little patience for bad behaviour.

    Thanks for reading. :)

  6. Tito ,makes a great target doesn't he.?? hahahah
    However i do think he has enough left to beat up gump..goo Tito!

  7. Mitch

    Very good article James! Love him or hate him, Tito is a genius at self marketing and I always love watching him fight.

  8. James

    YouTube explanation of Guerrilla Marketing:


  9. Sterling

    Dude, GREAT ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I loved it. One thing though, “Tito Ortiz is set to make his much anticipated return”

    You're joking, I'm not, I want to see him back so he can get smashed by the new faces of the LHW division. hahaahaha.

  10. good stuff ;) definitely enjoyed this article, i’ll read a bit more in your website after i am done with work! :P

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