Bellator 170: "Ortiz vs. Sonnen" comes to The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Jan. 21, 2017, featuring a Spike TV-televised Light Heavyweight main event collision between mixed martial arts (MMA) legends Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen. Even though a fight that pits "The Bad Boy" against "The Bad Guy" probably doesn't need any additional hype to get fight fans to tune in, it didn't stop Bellator from scheduling a media event more than two weeks ahead of its inaugural New Year "tent pole" card.
Company President Scott Coker and the top four fighters were all on the call, which means in addition to Ortiz and Sonnen, Welterweight stars Paul "Semtex" Daley and "Irish Bad Boy" Brennan Ward joined the assembled media to answer questions about this historic event and their upcoming bout.
In a recent amateur wrestling clip that saw Sonnen dominate Ortiz back in college, it was "American Gangster" who oddly took the high road when asked to reflect on the kind of fight he expects come showtime.
"Look, Tito's a great fighter. He was a hell of a wrestler. I caught him in one position, I'm not hanging my hat on that, and I don't believe that position's going to happen again. I'm pumped to be able to compete again, I'm pumped to be in there with a Hall of Famer like Tito. I'm gonna do everything I can to beat him, but I don't dismiss how good this guy is."
While Sonnen seemed to think it would be a fun and exciting fight, Ortiz reinforced that it would be his fight ... and that he was going to make it count.
"I want to leave on my own terms. I want to leave with respect the way I've been respected with Bellator. Scott Coker has done an amazing job with the company already. I sat back thinking about what would be my last fight to call it a day, and all of a sudden I'm watching Spike, watching Bellator, and Chael Sonnen comes screaming on the thing calling me a coward saying he wants to fight me. I swear there had never been a bigger smile on my face."
As the call heated up, the smiles faded and the jabs between the two got increasingly personal, especially after Ortiz insisted he would be landing many jabs on Sonnen's face.
"Chael says he's fighting me because he's jealous. That's the wrong way to have an idea to have somebody come in and fight against another person. I'm going in to get redemption. To me Chael's my enemy. I'm not going to wait for the referee to rip me off, I'm gonna keep punching, keep throwing elbows. I know all the moves that Chael does, which are only three moves that he does do, and my job is to go in there and destroy Chael Sonnen on January 21st, two days before my birthday, because he embarrassed me on my birthday."
Sonnen accused Ortiz of having a limited repertoire both in the cage and in preparation for the conference call.
"Man, it's painful! I've always enjoyed Tito (but) it was painful just listening to him read through that list of notes. He just rattled off all of his bullets right there in one setting and I think he asked me to go the bathroom on him -- that was a little bit weird. Who cares? Man, I don't care. I never thought about Tito Ortiz. I didn't come to this organization to fight Tito Ortiz. I've been chasing Wanderlei Silva around, Wanderlei's busy until the summer, they called me and asked if I'd fight Tito on January 21st. I didn't have anything else going on so I said, 'Yes!"
Meanwhile, after a difficult cut for Bellator 163 caused Daley to be scratched from the card, he vowed on the conference call that he's got a better plan for Bellator 170 to not miss this huge fight with Ward.
"Yeah, things didn't go according to plan for the last event I was scheduled to compete on. I made the weight, but it was what happened after making the weight which was a problem. The problems that we had have been ironed out, we're on target to make the weight again -- not so drastically this time. We should have everything back on point as it has been and ready to compete in what is going to be the most exciting fight on the card."
Ward agreed with Daley's assessment that their fight has the potential to steal the show at The Forum.
"They don't just match two guys up like me and Paul for no reason. On a card like this that can be arguably one of the biggest fights. It's gonna be the biggest card of the year, it'll be one of the biggest Bellator cards of all time. They're putting this match up on there for a reason because they know fireworks are gonna go off, and they know this fight is not going the distance. Me and Paul, we end fights, that's what we do."
Switching back to the headliners, when asked about his future, Ortiz reiterated that he wants to call it a day with this fight and that he's so focused on it he can't even think about what he'll do next.
"Everybody keeps asking me what I'm gonna do after this and I'm like, 'I really don't know.' Right now all I'm thinking about is getting my hand raised in the cage on January 21st. I'm living in this right now. I'm living in this time right this second. This is all I've been thinking about is this fight. This is all I've been training about is this fight. All I've been living and eating is competing against Chael Sonnen, going in there and trying to hurt him. That's my job, that's what I'm going to do, and get my hand raised."
As much as Ortiz tried to play it straight, Sonnen couldn't resist cranking up the entertainment value near the end.
"On January 21st the Bad Boy and the Bad Guy are going to fight. This is the biggest fight in Bellator history, this is the biggest fight of 2017, we are going to set the bar and everybody else is going to chase us after this. I am a numbers guy. I had all of the numbers before I left the sport. I lost them all when I retired, but had I not retired, I would still have them. It's like Marshall Mathers once said -- 'They can walk like me, talk like me, dress act not give a dang like me, and they just might be the next best thing, but they are not, quite, me."
That set Ortiz up for arguably his best zing of the whole call.
"I think Chael was just talking about me -- I appreciate that very very much -- you'll never be like me. On January 21st you're gonna see what ground and pound is truly like. This is my last time I'll be stepping in the cage. I'm excited, I'm in shape, I'm ready to kill."
Daley's closing thoughts were on attempting to steal the show back from Ortiz and Sonnen at The Forum.
"Yeah, it's been entertaining listening to Chael and Tito. I do want to say Tito is one of the reasons I'm also in the sport. He inspired me to dye my hair blonde which was a little outrageous at the time -- a little black kid with a London accent running around around with blonde hair so thanks Tito for that. Both me and Brennan Ward are gonna bring it, it's going to be an entertaining fight. He's a wrestler and he also has the knockout power. I like to think I have solid takedown defense and my whole career has been built on knocking people out so it should be a great fight."
Ward completely agreed and was eager for the two of them to collide.
"Yeah like what Paul said man, we're gonna go in there and fireworks are gonna off. I know Chael and Tito are gonna throw down, but I don't hope that we're gonna live up to the hype behind these two fights, I KNOW we're gonna live up to the hype. Us four we're going to put on a show that people are gonna remember for a long time. All four of us are gonna bring it and I couldn't be more excited."
Complete audio of the conference call is embedded in the video player above and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.