There aren’t many rivalries as pivotal for the history of mixed
martial arts as that of Chuck
Liddell and Tito Ortiz. On
Nov. 24, two pillars of MMA will turn back time at Golden Boy
Promotions’ first venture into MMA. Their fight will take place at
The Forum in Inglewood, California. As they try to prove that their
competitive drive has not waned, here are five things you might not
know about the Liddell-Ortiz rivalry.
1. Ortiz initially refused to fight Liddell.
At a time when Ortiz was having an impressive run and captured the
Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight championship,
Liddell was also doing great, eventually emerging as the No. 1
contender to the title. But Ortiz refused to square off with
Liddell, citing what he deemed was a friendship. The UFC, as a
result, pitted Liddell against Randy
Couture for the interim belt, which the latter won. Fortunately
for fans, the long-running negotiation eventually led to the
Liddell-Ortiz grudge match at UFC 47.
2. Their rematch broke records.
The intensity of the rivalry almost ensured that their rematch at
UFC 66 will be a financial success, and true enough, it raked in a
live gate of close to $5.4 million. It also marked the first time
an MMA event surpassed one million PPV buys as it reached 1.050
million homes. Up to now, it remains ninth on the list of the
highest grossing MMA events in Las Vegas.
Liddell avenged his loss to Couture by knocking him out at UFC 52,
which also happened to be for the light heavyweight belt. They met
again at UFC 57, and Liddell again emerged victorious by KO. On the
other hand, Ortiz faced “The Natural” only once, losing by
decision. Couture remained friends with both, and when asked for a
reaction on the upcoming bout, he expressed reservations mainly due
to Liddell’s long layoff whereas Ortiz has remained active.
4. They have a combined age of 91.
Liddell is 48 while Ortiz is 43. They debuted professionally a year
apart, with Ortiz gracing UFC 13 on May 30, 1997 and Liddell taking
part in UFC 17 on May 15, 1998. Unlike Ortiz, who has been fairly
active, Liddell hasn’t fought since 2010 when he lost to Rick
Franklin at UFC 115. The highly-anticipated rubber match was
supposed to be a part of the event, but Ortiz pulled out and was
replaced by Franklin.
5. Bellator expressed interest in hosting Liddell-Ortiz
Since their supposed third meeting fizzled out, fans were left
salivating for it. Some time last year, Bellator
MMA President Scott Coker said they were open for the rubber
match. Ortiz, however, wasn’t keen on having the fight at least at
the time as he was already retired and needed neck surgery.