Tito opens as the favorite vs. ‘The Iceman’
Published on Friday, 5/18/18, at 1:39 p.m. Eastern.
Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell announced his plans to return to fighting earlier this week. The UFC Hall of Famer, who retired in 2010 after losing by knockout in three consecutive fights, has his eyes set on a third fight with Tito Ortiz in November or December.
Liddell famously knocked out Ortiz twice at UFC 47 in 2004 and at UFC 66 in 2006. ‘The Iceman’ won the UFC’s light-heavyweight strap by garnering 2005 KO of the Year honors with his first-round KO of Randy Couture at UFC 52 in April of 2005.
Liddell successfully defended his belt four times against Jeremy Horn, Couture (again), Renato Sobral and Ortiz. However, at UFC 71 on May 26 of 2007, Rampage Jackson took the belt from Liddell with a first-round KO victory.
In his bounce-back fight at UFC 76 vs. Keith Jardine, Liddell lost a split decision. Three months later, however, Liddell won a unanimous decision over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79. This epic bloodbath earned 2007 Fight of the Year honors.
Nine months later on my birthday (9/6) in 2008, I attended my first UFC event and was in press row right next to the cage for the UFC 88 main event.
Liddell was squaring off against Rashad Evans, the former Michigan St. wrestler who was undefeated and had recently won Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter. Evans put Liddell to sleep with a huge right hand early in Round 2.
Liddell lost again by first-round KO to Shogun Rua at UFC 97. Dana White tried to talk Liddell into retirement in 2009, but ‘The Iceman’ convinced him to give him one more fight.
White matched up Liddell and Ortiz as the coaches on Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter. They were poised to fight for the third time in the UFC 115 headliner, but Ortiz pulled out of the bout due to a neck injury.
Liddell instead faced Rich Franklin in Vancouver. Franklin sustained a broken arm blocking a body kick from Liddell midway through the opening stanza. Liddell was looking great and Franklin had only one good arm. However, as Liddell missed a big right-hand punch, Franklin landed a perfect counter left that put ‘The Iceman’ asleep with five seconds left in Round 1.
Liddell announced his retirement months later, accepting the position of the UFC’s VP of Business Development. He held that job until 2016 when Zuffa sold the UFC to WME-IMG for more than $4 billion.
Liddell is looking to fight Ortiz later this year under the banner of Golden Boy Promotions, which is beginning its venture into mixed martial arts.
On Thursday (5/17/18), Bovada opened Ortiz as a -200 favorite, with Liddell as the +160 underdog (risk $100 to win $160).
Although Ortiz has twice been KO’d by Liddell, The ‘Iceman’ is 48 and hasn’t fought in nearly eight years. Ortiz is 43 and went 3-1 in four fights for Bellator from 2014-2017.
‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ last fought at Bellator 170 in January of 2017, submitting Chael Sonnen in the first round.