The Most Influential UFC Fights II (of V)

By Jake Rossen Jul 7, 2009
“Best” is subjective. Influential? Not so much. All this week on ESPN.com and Sherdog.com, we’re examining the fights that made a difference in how fans and fighters view the UFC’s Octagon.

Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz (UFC 47, April 2, 2004)

Still a year away from finding the attention of a cable-surfing audience, the UFC was brutally short on true superstars: Tito Ortiz, mired in contract disputes, had just been spanked -- literally -- by Randy Couture, and there was no telling when the 40-something champion’s next fight would be his last. Georges St. Pierre had just debuted in the promotion; Ken Shamrock was running on fumes of fumes.

Liddell had just returned from a bad run of performances, having lost to Couture the year prior and come up short in a Pride elimination tournament in Japan. This is not the definition of career momentum. What he had was a feud with Ortiz, whom he had accused of avoiding him.

If true, Ortiz was playing it smart: He had nothing for Liddell, couldn’t complete a successful shot and crumbled in a heap when the striker finally found his comfort zone. It was the beginning of a legendary tear that sent Liddell on a three-year run as the promotion’s most recognizable and marketable attraction just as the brand itself was ready for some mainstream apologies.

The Winner: Liddell via TKO.

The Lesson: Opportunities mean nothing without stars: Liddell’s was the perfect style at the perfect time.
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