Boxing powerhouse Golden Boy Promotions makes its first foray into mixed martial arts (MMA) MMA this Saturday night (Nov. 24, 2018) with a FITE.TV pay-per-view (PPV) headlined by a trilogy match between former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions — and old school rivals — Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. Fellow UFC vets Gleison Tibau, Tom Lawlor, and Efrain Escudero are set to appear on the six-fight main card as well. The PPV will run you $40 unless you take advantage of its Black Friday deal, which cuts the price in half (details).
It’s the main event that’s drawing all the buzz, though, for better or (mostly) worse. Let’s have ourselves a look.
205 lbs.: Chuck Liddell (21-8) vs. Tito Ortiz (19-12-1)
There are a handful of sports where “legend matches” are appealing, and the most athletically demanding among them is tennis. Maybe basketball if it’s one-on-one and both players have appropriate knee protection.
Unfortunately, people keep trying to make them a thing in combat sports.
Liddell is 1-5 with four knockout losses in his last six fights and hasn’t fought in eight years. Ortiz is less than two years removed from his last bout, a submission of Chael Sonnen, but was 1-7-1 before his current 3-1 run, which saw him beat two Middleweights and an overcooked Stephan Bonnar. Liddell is 48, Ortiz 43.
The most baffling thing about this is that it won’t even be entertaining. These guys are a decade-plus removed from their primes. But, my job is to analyze ... criticizing is just a bonus.
Ortiz may be shot, but he still knows how to wrestle and his top control is as potent as ever. It’s just that he’s too slow and ungainly to set up his takedowns against people who aren’t twenty pounds smaller than him or pushing 50. Liddell, on the other hand, has lost everything that made him great; the speed’s gone, the durability’s gone, and while power’s the last thing to go, it’s hard to generate concussive force when you punch like you’re wading through molasses.
Ortiz can still do what he’s good at, albeit in a reduced state, and figures to be the less spent of the two by a fair margin. Expect a couple of slow-motion exchanges before Ortiz takes him down and taps him in a hurry.
Prediction: Ortiz by first-round submission
For much more on the upcoming Liddell-Ortiz trilogy click here.