Ortiz Wants To End Liddell In Trilogy
Saturday night inside The Forum in Inglewood, California, an experiment takes place. Not only for Golden Boy Promotions, who are producing their first ever MMA event, but for Chuck Liddell.
Liddell, a former UFC light heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer, returns to fighting for the first time in a decade, as he takes on his rival Tito Ortiz in a trilogy fight.
For Liddell, this is his chance to prove that at 48, he can still fight. While many see this as a last day in the sun for Liddell, the California native is looking to have “three or four” more fights before he calls it a career, even hoping to face fellow PRIDE and UFC alum, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who bested him in both companies.
“I wanted to get back into the game. I got interested and excited about fighting again and I needed a tuneup fight. And I needed a tuneup fight that we could sell,” Liddell said at this week’s press conference. “Tito is a great tuneup fight and a great measuring stick to where I am and where my comeback is. If everything goes to plan on Saturday, I’ll be ready to go and fight someone for real.”
“If I can’t perform to the level I expect to, I’ll hang it up for good.”
Tito Ortiz is looking to right two losses handed to him by Liddell while in the UFC. The former training partners would begin a nearly two-decade feud due to Liddell’s loyalty to Dana White and the UFC when Ortiz wanted to hold out to make them more money.
At UFC 47 and UFC 66, Liddell would shut the lights out on Ortiz, with the “Iceman” icing Ortiz 38 seconds into their first encounter. Ortiz blames those loses on personal and marital issues that took his eye off of training and feels that he is now in a better place to shut down Liddell.
Ortiz has fought in the past two years, stopping Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170 in January 2017, but prior to that has only fought three times in the preceding three years, one of which a loss at Bellator 142 for the Bellator light heavyweight title.
“He says I’m a tuneup fight? Man, I think this guy has lost his mind over the last eight years,” Ortiz said. “You have to understand, I’ve been competing over the last eight years. The last time I fought was 2017 against Chael Sonnen and choked him out in two and a half minutes. My timing is there, my wrestling is there and everything is still there exactly where I’m going to need to be able to beat Chuck Liddell.
“At the end of the day, we are enemies, we are not acquaintances, we are not friends and on Saturday night I’m going to smash his face and we won’t be friends then either.”
In the lead-up to this fight, Ortiz made it clear that anything under 200,000 Pay-Per-View buys would be a disappointment, even though no card presented by a non-UFC brand in MMA has never topped 100,000 buys. And with a card featuring lesser known names, highlighted by current MLW pro wrestler and former UFC athlete Tom Lawlor, there are not many with high hopes for this fight.
Ortiz-Liddell III is the beginning for Golden Boy MMA but may be the end of an era in MMA, as two of the biggest stars of the UFC’s boom period go at it one more time on Pay-Per-View.
Check the full card for Golden Boy MMA I below:
Light heavyweight: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz
Light heavyweight: Deron Winn vs. Tom Lawlor
Light heavyweight: Kenneth Bergh vs. Jorge Gonzalez
Catchweight (160 pounds): Gleison Tibau vs. Efrain Escudero
Bantamweight: Walel Watson vs. Ricardo Palacios
Heavyweight: Jay Silva vs. Oscar Cota