Though he has struggled inside the cage throughout much of the last several years, Tito Ortiz is without question one of the most important figures in the history of mixed martial arts. Twenty years after making his debut in the sport, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” is finally hanging up his fingerless gloves for good and he couldn’t have scripted a better ending for his Hall of Fame career.
In the main event of Bellator 170 inside the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California, Ortiz dominated hated rival Chael Sonnen before forcing him to tapout to a rear-naked choke in the opening round. Ortiz landed a pair of punches to Sonnen’s face just moments into their grudge match and quickly took the former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title challenger to the mat. After Ortiz escaped a relatively threatening guillotine choke, Ortiz took over and never looked back.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion slithered into full mount and when “The American Gangster” rolled over in an attempt to escape the fast-approaching ground-and-pound, Ortiz seized his back and suck in the choke. Sonnen tried his best to fend it off but even though Ortiz was at an odd angle for the submission, the Californian squeezed until Sonnen tapped. Referee John McCarthy intervened but Ortiz refused to let go for a few seconds before finally doing so. The end officially came at the 2:03 mark of the first.
After to bout, Ortiz declared his retirement from the sport he carried on his shoulders in the early days of the Zuffa-era UFC and singlehandedly kept the sport alive before his contemporaries carried the torch into the sport it is today.
The co-feature exceeded pre-fight expectations as British knockout artist Paul “Semtex” Daley nearly decapitated Brennan Ward with one of the best knockouts in years. Ward was rocked by a left hook during an exchange, which forced him to take Daley to the canvas. “Irish” Brennan couldn’t keep him down and when “Semtex” climbed back to his feet, he buckled the Connecticut fighter’s knees with a partially-blocked spinning back elbow. From there, Daley drilled his foe with as vicious a flying knee as there ever has been in MMA, knocking Ward senseless and stiff onto his back at the 2:27 mark of the opening stanza.
Ward was removed from the Bellator cage on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital and preliminary reports are that he’s recovering well. Daley, meanwhile, called out former UFC welterweight title challenger Rory MacDonald in the post-fight interview, potentially setting up a critical showdown later this year.
In other main card action, Japanese slugger out-pointed Ralek Gracie via unanimous decision in a dreadfully dull three-round affair; Emmanuel Sanchez edged Georgi Karakhanyan via majority decision after Sanchez was penalized a point in the second for a pair of illegal knees; and Derek Campos unanimously defeated Derek Anderson via decision.
The preliminary card was loaded with knockouts as Henry Corrales took out Cody Bollinger in the third with a punch to the body; Guilherme “Bomba” Vasconcelos knocked John Mercuio out with punches in the second; Chinzo Machida rallied from an early points deficit to starch Jamar Ocampo in the third with a punch to the cranium and kick to the gut; Jalin Turner torched Gabrial Green with punches in just 36 seconds; Jack May wrecked Dave Cryer with punches in 41 seconds; and Daniel Rodriguez took out Christian Gonzalez via strikes in the second. In other action, Alex Soto edged DeMarcus Brown via unanimous decision and Kevin Casey fought to a majority draw with Keith Berry.