Let’s face it, when Tito Ortiz says something, it’s usually not worth listening to, unless you want to have a few laughs at his pro-wrestling style, in-cage antics.

That’s why I was pretty surprised by his recent statements on Inside MMA, where the former UFC light-heavyweight champion called on the world’s biggest MMA promotion, as well as his current employer Bellator, to take up the cause of helping fighters with mental and behavioral issues.

The comment comes after the awful, awful news regarding the sport’s biggest scumbag, War Machine, as well as Jason “Mayhem” Miller’s recent stand-off with the police.

Here’s what the former champ had to say:

“Us fighters put our lives on the line to entertain the fans that watch. Look at Jason “Mayhem” Miller, War Machine. I’m not defending anything they did. Everything they did was wrong in their own right, but a lot of these fighters take a lot of head trauma, head damage, as you see in professional football. Maybe UFC and Bellator should take care of the fighters when their careers are done, as the NFL takes care of their players. Because they’re making so much money off us. It’s blood money.”

And Ortiz is right.

The UFC and other MMA promotions have a responsibility to protect their fighters who put their bodies and lives on the line.

While the issue needs to be explored and studied on a deeper level, there are already reports suggesting a link between head trauma and violent behavior. Now, being more violent may be good for fighting, but it’s how this behavior affects an athlete’s home life that is the real problem.

We’ve seen the real life repercussions of this issue far too many times over the years, and it’s time to make a change.

Some have already called on the UFC to adopt a similar program to the NFL’s “88 Plan,” which MMAFighting.com says, provides retired players up to $88,000 per year for medical and custodial care.” Now that would be a nice start, but it’d be nearly impossible to implement seeing as how there’s no union for these fighters, who are considered contract workers.

To its credit, the UFC has expressed its support for doing more research into head trauma, but there needs to be tangible systems put in place now so that today’s mixed martial artists aren’t left out to pasture when their careers are up.

It’d be a shame to see some of our favorite fighters go the way of many past, popular boxers who now suffer from things like dementia or, worse, end up in jail for lashing out physically at their loved ones.

However, there will likely be no movement on the subject until some sort of fighters union that can handle a collective bargaining agreement is established. The onus is on people like Ortiz to get his fellow fighters together and force the promotions into taking brain trauma issues head on.

Until that day, fans shouldn’t be surprised when they see more stories in the future similar to the War Machine or Mayhem cases.

About The Author

Staff Writer

Matt Juul is loving college life as he pursues a career in journalism and cinema. A writer and pop culture fanatic, his interests and expertise range from arts and entertainment to the rough and tough world of mixed martial arts. Matt’s work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston.com, Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, and the New Haven Register.