More than nine years removed from his final Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bout against Forrest Griffin, Tito Ortiz’s journey into strange frontiers has reached its wildest destination yet. While it won’t be against Dana White, “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” finally makes his boxing debut this Saturday evening (Sept. 11, 2021), taking on fellow Octagon legend Anderson Silva in the co-feature of Triller’s Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort pay-per-view (PPV) event.
Why the upstart promotion elected to stick two mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters into a boxing ring instead of, you know, letting them do MMA is beyond me. Still, it’s not the strangest match up on the card ... and it’s definitely got some meat to dig into.
Let’s have a look, shall we?
If by some feat of chronological malfeasance you managed to pit these two against each other at their peaks in the cage, this could actually be a compelling match up. An absolute, unrelenting buffoon he may be, but Ortiz was a legitimately fearsome ground artist with genuine size and strength for the Light Heavyweight division. Indeed, even a faded Ortiz proved too much for a skilled Middleweight in Alexander Shlemenko. The sheer size difference would be far from astonishing to see a prime Ortiz give a prime Silva the Chael Sonnen treatment, albeit with enough submission acumen to avoid Sonnen’s infamous fate.
That’s in MMA, of course. And no version of Tito Ortiz beats any version of Anderson Silva in a pure stand up fight.
May the record show that I’m not mythologizing Silva — “The Spider” has been past it since around 2016, and even a notoriously poor game planner like Uriah Hall managed to exploit Silva’s long-standing weakness when forced to lead (watch highlights). Even this year’s heroic victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (watch it) was less a case of Silva turning back the clock and more a case of Chavez being a lifelong underachiever who discovered new and exciting ways to sh-t the bed.
But even with all that, he’s by far the more skillful striker. Ortiz has little to offer him besides some understated power in his right hand and a big ole’ coconut of a head, and the latter’s offset by his glass midsection. Silva understands boxing (the martial art) and boxing (the actual sport) better than Ortiz ever will, and his familiarity with the ruleset should push what’s already a heavy advantage into untouchable territory.
I do think Ortiz probably lasts the distance unless Silva sneaks in a really nice body shot, though, and he may be able to find some late success if he can make the Brazilian carry his weight. Still, expect Silva to potshot him at range and out-maneuver him in the clinch for a comfortable victory.
Prediction: Silva via unanimous decision