There aren’t a lot of fight fans who were clamoring to see Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz run it back again.
The thought of two aging legends reviving a rivalry that ended 2-0 seems unnecessary. But it will be a marquee bout nonetheless, and will be the first major MMA fight held by Oscar de la Hoya’s new organization, Golden Boy Promotions.
But Liddell, a 48-year-old UFC Hall of Famer, says he never stopped loving fighting. Despite concerns about his health from those closest to him, including UFC president Dana White, Liddell says he is excited to get back in the cage.
While he does like the idea of proving people wrong who say he doesn’t have it in him, Liddell says there isn’t really anything left to prove for him. He said the main reason for his return is simple – he just doesn’t like Ortiz, and wants to beat him again.
The two have a long and storied history that originally saw them as friends and teammates. But that relationship quickly soured as Liddell rose through the ranks and began chasing the championship that belonged to Ortiz at the time.
Their pair of bouts drew big ratings at a time when doing so seemed nearly impossible for the UFC, as MMA was still trying to escape the reputation of being a seedy underground form of entertainment. They were two of the promotion’s earliest stars, and, the sport’s biggest stars during the early years of the Zuffa era.
But what would it take for Liddell to finally call it quits in MMA? Still intent on returning despite going on a rough skid toward the end of his UFC career that saw him suffer multiple knockouts, it seems he doesn’t know when to quit. But for Liddell, there is one thing that would convince him to finally hang up his gloves for good and never look back – losing to Ortiz.
Liddell said: “I mean, he’s someone I’m better than at everything, so it’s a great tune-up fight for me. If he beats me, I have no business being back in the ring again. If he beats me, I’m done.”
The fight is set to take place on November 24 in Inglewood at The Forum. The fight will mark Ortiz’s return as well, though he has been a bit more active than his adversary in recent years. He scored a victory over Chael Sonnen in Bellator, and this brings up an interesting question – could Ortiz finally best Liddell?
Ortiz has never been known as a power puncher, but Liddell’s chin has deteriorated a lot due to the punishment he’s taken over the years. If he is victorious, it wouldn’t be the first time a 2-0 series saw the down fighter finally rebound with a win. The same thing happened with Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson.
That’s another historic rivalry that just won’t end – the two are ready to run it back a fourth time at an upcoming Bellator card.