Image licensed from USA Today Sports
It’s incredible that in 2018, we get to witness a third match between Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell (48) and Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz (43). Oscar De La Hoya is a smart promoter because let’s be honest: the hardcore fans that watched UFC Beijing earlier in the day will still tune in for this epic fight despite the fact both competitors are more than a decade past their prime.
Both fighters trained with one another before their 2006 contest. The rumors were that Liddell would consistently get the better of Ortiz in the training room, and this transpired on fight night. Forced to contend on the feet, Ortiz had little success striking with Liddell and was savagely finished in the second round.
The rematch was similar in most regards, although Ortiz landed more strikes and did get a brief takedown at one stage. Still, Liddell’s explosive punches and good takedown defense were kryptonite for “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” - who relied on his wrestling and ground strikes to win fights.
The Original Sprawl and Brawler
Liddell racked up his most impressive wins during his early to mid-thirties, stuffing takedowns and blasting opponents on the feet. A division 1 wrestler, Liddell’s takedown defense was legendary, and when he did end up on his back, he was able to rise to his feet quickly.
Against a more decorated and larger wrestler in Kevin Randleman, Liddell was pushed against the cage but managed to keep the fight standing in order to knock his opponent out. Many of his bouts would go the same way.
Putting steam behind every shot and taking risks defensively, it’s no wonder “The Iceman” was a fan favorite. Still, athletes with this kind of reckless style don’t usually have a long shelf life, and Liddell was no exception. The decline between the first two fights with Ortiz was evident, and it became more pronounced toward the end of his career.
Consecutive knockout losses to Quinton Jackson, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Rich Franklin forced Liddell to close the curtains on a great career at the age of forty. Liddell connected with strikes on Franklin, but it was clear his chin was gone as he got countered and finished in the pocket.
Takedowns and Ground Strikes
Tito Ortiz didn’t have the best relationship with the fans but most admired his fighting style. A two-time All-American collegiate wrestler, Ortiz was a freak athlete in his prime. As one of the few UFC fighters to ever knock out an opponent with a slam, the wrestling and physicality of “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” made him a force to be reckoned with.
Everyone knew Ortiz would try to muscle them to the ground and then unleash with elbows and punches, but few could stop him. However, UFC President Dana White accused Ortiz of ducking a fight with Liddell - claiming he knew “The Iceman” would be able to stop the takedowns of Ortiz and beat him up. While Dana White has made some bold claims over the years, he may have been right with that one.
When Ortiz lost to Liddell the second time, this started a cataclysmic losing streak which eventually resulted in him leaving the UFC and signing with Bellator. At the new promotion, Ortiz recorded some good wins against the loudmouthed wrestler, Chael Sonnen, and an extremely technical (albeit undersized) striker in Alexander Shlemenko.
Like most people, I’m a huge fan of Chuck Liddell, but I don’t think this is going to end well for him. Ortiz last fought in 2017 and performed admirably, whereas Liddell last fought in 2010 and was violently knocked out.
While Liddell may have been a bad matchup for Ortiz in the past, what version of “The Iceman” are we going to get at 48-years-of-age? For a fighter that once relied on explosiveness, durability, and athleticism - I can’t envision Liddell turning back the clock and knocking out Ortiz for a third time. I think it’s far more likely Ortiz gets his opponent down and finishes him on the mat.
Pick: Tito Ortiz -250
Free Ultimate Guide to MMA Betting
Free Ultimate Guide to MMA Betting
You want to win? This guide was created for you as The Bible for the MMA Sports Bettor. The most compherensive collection of strategies, tips, and techniques to consistently grow your bankroll.Download it now!
You want to win? This guide was created for you as The Bible for the MMA Sports Bettor.
Download it now!