Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, 44, will collide with ex-World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) titleholder Alberto Del Rio, 42, in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event of Combate Americas’ Dec. 7 fight card, set for Payne Arena in Hidalgo, Texas.
As part of the build up to next month’s big shebang, both combatants have been making the media rounds, which for the most part, remained friendly. Then Ortiz decided to send a message during their most recent staredown.
Del Rio believes he may have gotten into his opponent’s head.
“I thought Tito might try something like that because I’ve noticed that he can dish out trash talk, but can’t take it when someone gives it back to him,” Del Rio said. “My training partner told me after the fan event that he saw Tito clenching his fist while we were seated on stage, which tells me he was getting upset by how I was responding to questions about him and might lose his cool.”
Ortiz (20-12-1) is coming off a first-round drubbing of longtime rival, Chuck Liddell, under the now-defunct Golden Boy MMA banner last November. Prior to that, the UFC hall-of-famer shut down Chael Sonnen by way of submission in the Bellator 170 main event.
“This guy repeats the same lines over and over like a broken record, but when you throw something new at him, I think he becomes frustrated because he can’t think on his toes,” he said. “All he did by instigating that on Friday was motivate me even more than I am now, so congratulations to him for that. I am going to make history by beating him badly on December 7.”
As for Del Rio (9-5), he’s been out of the mixed martial arts (MMA) game for nearly a decade, having not seen action since his technical knockout loss to Mamoru Yamamoto at Cage of Combat 4 in early 2010, which snapped a six-fight win streak.
Ortiz will put his UFC belt on the line, while Del Rio is risking his WWE strap.