LAS VEGAS – The scene was surreal. Sitting on a stage just a few feet apart were Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz separated only by Oscar De La Hoya, who was singing the UFC Hall of Famers’ praises to promote their upcoming trilogy fight.
Yup, this is actually happening in 2018.
The 43-year-old Ortiz (19-12-1 MMA, 15-11-1 UFC) and 48-year-old Liddell (21-8 MMA, 16-6 UFC) will fight for a third time Nov. 24 on a pay-per-view promoted by De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
On Friday in Las Vegas, all three men took part in a news conference at the MGM Grand.
“Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz represent two of the most celebrated fighters in the history of combat sports,” De La Hoya said. “And for me, it truly is an honor to put together this third fight between two living legends.”
Ortiz first announced the possibility of a third fight with Liddell back in May, saying he would come out of retirement to “give the fans the fight they have been waiting for.” From there, the possibility picked up steam. With the California State Athletic Commission issuing licenses to both Liddell and Ortiz, De La Hoya decided to enter the MMA business.
Liddell owns knockout wins over Ortiz, his former training partner and heated rival, in their previous two fights. At UFC 47 in April 2004, Liddell finished Ortiz 38 seconds into the second round. At UFC 66 in December 2006, he retained his light heavyweight title with a third-round TKO.
The second win over Ortiz gave Liddell seven straight wins, and at the time made him arguably the biggest star in MMA. He lost his title his next time out by TKO to Quinton Jackson, which started a slide of five losses in his final six fights – four by knockout. Liddell hasn’t fought since June 2010, when he suffered a knockout loss to Rich Franklin. Liddell officially retired later that year and took a job with the UFC as a brand ambassador.
Questions abound about Liddell’s ability to still fight, including from Ortiz, who is looking to capitalize by defeating “a shell of a man” in “The Iceman.”
“This guy next to me, he hasn’t fought in over 10 years,” Ortiz said. “He wants to come out of retirement and call me out? I’ve been passionately busy on my other businesses. But you know what? I see the opportunity to finally shut this guy up, to finally get my hand raised on my terms.”
Ortiz, of course, has a history of healthy issues, including multiple surgeries on his neck. Ortiz, who most recently defeated Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170 in January 2017, said he’s the healthiest he’s ever been.
“I’m 43 years young,” Ortiz said. “I’ve watched guys, the greatest, like Bernard Hopkins being 52 and being a world champion. See guys like the greatest, Randy Couture, at 43, being the world champion. You’re going to see Tito Ortiz on Nov. 24 at 43 getting his hand raised over an old man, a shell of a man: Chuck ‘The Snowflake’ Liddell.”
“I know you’re hoping I’m a shell of the man that I was, because that’s the only way he’d have a chance at beating me,” he said. “But he’s going to find out real quick that I’m not. … I still hit just as hard. I still wrestle just as hard. And he’s going to get knocked out.”
There wasn’t an opportunity for the assembled media to ask questions during the press conference. Without being prompted, Liddell addressed concerns over his age and health.
“I’m excited to prove to everyone that I’m not too old,” Liddell said. “You can do anything you put your mind to. I will be there, I will be in shape, and I will be ready. This guy’s going to get knocked out, and I am going to enjoy it.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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