The Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz rivalry may have propelled mixed martial arts into the limelight back in the 2000s, but it’s been almost a decade since the two UFC Hall of Famers last fought.
So it came as a surprise when Chuck Liddell (21-8) posted a staredown with Tito Ortiz (19-12-1) with the caption, “Why not?” Ortiz’s response was typical Tito: “@Chuckliddell because I don’t need the money. Suck that you need the money. I can lend you some cash if so.”
If Ortiz — who lost the previous two matchups with Liddell — has no intention of a trilogy fight, why did he agree to a staredown in the first place? The mind boggles.
Liddell was cut from his senior management position at the UFC after the $4 billion buyout last year, so the former light heavyweight champ is no longer tied to the promotion.
After leaving the UFC, Ortiz had a mildly successful run at Bellator before announcing his retirement earlier this year.
Liddell vs Ortiz III has the potential to finally bring the big bucks to one of the smaller promotions. Will it happen? If so, who will win? If not, who will Liddell face in his seemingly inevitable comeback? Let’s take a look at the odds!
Chuck Liddell Odds
Odds Liddell vs Ortiz III happens: 1/1
Liddell vs Ortiz II was the biggest event in UFC history at the time, bringing in over $5 million at the gate and raking in over a million pay-per-view buys — a huge milestone for the promotion.
There’s no doubt that a trilogy fight would see some impressive numbers. The two Hall of Famers and former champs still have some bad blood between them, and MMA fans would love to see them settle it in the cage.
The two fighters are long past their prime, though. At 47 years old, Liddell has logged a lot of miles and hasn’t fought in seven years. The 42-year-old Ortiz retired earlier this year, presumably hanging up his gloves for good this time.
Still, the two wouldn’t have posed for a showdown picture if they weren’t at least a little interested, and even though Tito says he doesn’t need the money, I don’t know many people who’d turn their nose up at six figures-plus for 15 minutes of work.
Odds to win Liddell vs Ortiz III
Tito Ortiz: 1/2
Chuck Liddell: 2/1
Liddell dominated the first two fights, handing Ortiz his first career knockout in the first meeting and stopping him again in the second. Liddell was able to neutralize Ortiz’s attempts to take the fight to the ground, and his striking proved too much for the wrestler.
However, his record plummeted after the second Ortiz fight, losing five of his next six. He was put into retirement by three consecutive highlight-reel knockout losses. Liddell is now nearing 50 and has taken some brutal punishment over the years. His prior success against Tito counts for little at this point.
Ortiz, on the other hand, retired on a high earlier this year. After only winning one of his last nine UFC fights, he left the promotion and signed with Bellator. There he did reasonably well, winning his first two matches (over Alexander Shlemenko and Stephan Bonnar), earning a title shot (which he lost to Liam McGeary), and then defeating Chael Sonnen in his final fight.
It’s hard to see Liddell overcoming seven years of ring rust and two decades of wear. Ortiz may be a shell of his former self at 42 years old, but that’s still five years younger than Liddell and he’s fought in the last seven years.
Odds to be Chuck Liddell’s Next Opponent:
Tito Ortiz: 1/1
Chael Sonnen: 4/1
Fedor Emelianenko: 19/1
Vitor Belfort: 30/1
Mauricio Rua: 30/1
Anthony Johnson: 60/1
If Tito Ortiz is unwilling to return to the octagon, then Liddell has some other options he could explore.
Chael Sonnen is always ready for a fight. The “American Gangster” still has a multi-fight contract with Bellator and a fight against Liddell would be huge compared to anything else he could hope for at the promotion. The 40-year-old is reeling after a loss to Tito Ortiz, and a win against Liddell could be just what he needs to bounce back.
Fedor Emelianenko, the greatest MMA fighter to have never fought in the UFC, also has a multi-fight deal with Bellator. If Liddell is willing to make a move to heavyweight, then this has the potential to be one of the most entertaining fights in a long time.
Former opponents Maurício “Shogun” Rua and Vitor Belfort are possibilities for a rematch. And then, if Liddell is feeling game, he could call out the recently retired “Rumble” Johnson for a good old fashioned slugfest for the ages.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.