A day after two struggling past-their-prime legends dueled on the golf course in Las Vegas on pay-per-view, two Ultimate Fighting Championship hall of famers fought for what many observers hope will be the last time.
Tito Ortiz finally exacted some revenge against archrival Chuck Liddell in the inaugural main event for Golden Boy MMA on Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California, and he closed out “The Iceman” in vicious and unsettling fashion. Ortiz (20-12-1) took his time to feel out the 48-year-old Liddell at the start, but once he saw an opening to capitalize, he ended the fight.
Liddell (21-9) looked ancient inside the cage, as he stumbled and fumbled while trying to strike, his once-awesome striking prowess and speed long extinct. “The Iceman” never landed any of his vaunted power shots against Ortiz but instead threw passive punches here and there. Once he unleashed the best combination he could muster, Liddell fell back into the cage and left himself vulnerable. Ortiz slammed a right hand onto his face, knocking him cold. Liddell fell face first to the canvas, and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” followed him, landing three more punches before referee Herb Dean could pull him off 4:24 into Round 1.
It had been 14 years since the two light heavyweight legends first met inside the Octagon, but more importantly, it had been eight long years since Liddell had fought. It marked the fourth straight time Liddell had been knocked out. It was Ortiz’s second consecutive win but his first since he submitted Chael Sonnen in January 2017.
Accomplished wrestler Deron Winn continued to impress, as he dominated longtime veteran Tom Lawlor for three rounds in a light heavyweight tussle. Winn brutalized “Filthy Tom’s” face for the first two rounds, using solid boxing while opening cuts under both eyes. Lawlor never managed to find a rhythm offensively, and Winn made it worse in the third with a pair of easy takedowns. Lawlor (10-7) threatened with a guillotine in the final round, but Winn was too savvy to be tapped. In the end, Winn won the verdict via tallies of 30-27 across the board to improve to 5-0.
UFC veteran Gleison Tibau went to war with Efrain Escudero (30-14) for three rounds and came out with his hand raised in victory. Tibau (34-14) rocked “The Ultimate Fighter 8” winner with multiple punches in the first round, only to be wobbled by return fire from his foe in the second. However, the Brazilian landed the harder blows in the final frame and scored a late takedown to seal the win. All three cageside judges favored Tibau by a 29-28 margin.
Ricky Palacios was disappointed with his performance against Walel Watson but still shined in their 140-pound catchweight encounter. “El Gallero” rocked Watson twice with overhand rights to the head early in their showdown and then finished his counterpart moments later. Palacios (11-1) sent “The Gazelle” sprawling across the cage with a right to the head and then nearly knocked him out with a follow-up right-left combo. As Watson (14-12) crumbled to the canvas and attempted to rise to his feet, the Texan slammed his right shin into Watson’s head, knocking him out. Referee Frank Trigg immediately intervened, ending the drubbing at 3:56 of the first round.
Bantamweight contender James Barnes improved to 11-4 with a dominant performance against Albert Morales. Barnes scored multiple takedowns and unleashed solid ground-and-pound for nearly three rounds before authoring a late finish. Barnes moved to mount and slid into an armbar, eventually forcing Morales (7-5-1) to tap. The end came at the 4:09 mark of Round 3.
Heavyweight journeyman Jay Silva wailed away at Mexico’s Oscar Cota with punches to the head and knees to the belly before netting the victory with a submission. After Cota (10-2) had points taken for repeated knees to the groin and putting his fingers in Silva’s glove, “Da Spyda Killa” locked in an arm-triangle choke from mount. Referee Mike Beltran thought Cota had gone to sleep and ended it at 2:13 of the third round, though Cota protested the stoppage. Silva, a Brazilian fighting out of California, improved to 12-12 with the win.