When Bellator 170 starts tomorrow, its main event is one that looks like a combat moratorium. Veteran fighters Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen have had their share of historic wars, most notably in the UFC Octagon. However with the dawn of free agency in MMA, they have moved on to potentially greener pastures with Bellator.
Ortiz (29-14-1) is the former UFC light heavyweight champion who won the belt at UFC 25 back in April 2000. He held the crown for three years until UFC 44, when Randy Couture took the unanimous decision. Ortiz tried again to win the light heavyweight belt at UFC 66, but was knocked out by Chuck Liddell, who at the time was on a five-fight win streak as the organization’s poster boy.
Sonnen (18-12-1) can be classified as the mighty engine that never could achieve MMA gold at the upper levels. After losing to Paulo Filho for the middleweight championship at WEC 31 back in 2007, Sonnen made himself famous as a trash-talker. The strategy worked and mixed with his wrestling-heavy offense, he embarked on two unsuccessful title runs against then reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Like Lidell to Ortiz, the series against Anderson Silva turned Sonnen into a hype beast that has carried him to a main event feature time and time again; mainly for his barrage of insulting one-liners.
However, now the only two MMA hype trains not named Conor McGregor are facing each other. The first meeting between Ortiz, and Sonnen came in 1998, when they were collegiate wrestlers. In that bout, Sonnen pinned Ortiz in 44 seconds.
Two years later, Ortiz captured the then-vacant UFC light heavyweight title by defeating Wanderlei Silva by unanimous decision. Two years after that, Sonnen promised his dying father he would beat Ortiz and become UFC champion. Sonnen said that promise is the only one he’s failed to keep in his life.
For Ortiz, this is his retirement fight. After his divorce to Jenna Jameson and some legal issues, it can be assumed that this fight is more about the money and less about the glory. This is also Sonnen’s first fight since he served a two-year suspension and was released from the UFC after two failed drug tests.
Bellator has a bad history with MMA veterans fighting, like Kimbo Slice vs. Dada 5000 and Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock 3. However, this fight has a bit more bite than usual even if the reasons for the battle are disingenuous.
Catch all the action live tomorrow from The Forum in Inglewood, California on Spike at 9pm EST / 6pm PST.