The rumored Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz trilogy fight has indeed become a reality.
Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya intends for this to be the first event for Golden Boy MMA, a new venture for De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. ESPN first reported the news on July 2 after confirmation from the organization.
“I’m proud to announce we’ve signed a deal for the fight between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz,” De La Hoya said in a statement. “This will be huge for sports fans around the world. Ortiz and Liddell are two of the most recognized fighters in MMA history. They are legends in the sport.
”Everyone remembers their rivalry helped put the sport on the map, and we’re excited to host the next and final chapter of this historic rivalry.”
The 48-year-old “Iceman” Liddell is up 2-0 against the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz. The fighter from John Hackleman’s Pit gym scored a knockout and technical knockout win due to strikes over Ortiz at UFC 47 in 2004 and UFC 66 in 2006, respectively.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion Liddell retired following his 2010 knockout loss to Rich Franklin at UFC 115, his fifth loss in six bouts. Liddell, a college graduate with a degree in accounting then served as the UFC’s Vice President of Business Development from then until the UFC was purchased in 2016.
“It feels great to sign a deal, to be honest with you. It’s as exciting as I knew it would be,” Liddell said to ESPN. “Golden Boy offers something different. We’re partners in this. And I never get sick of punching Tito.”
Ortiz is returning to MMA following his second retirement. Another former UFC light heavyweight champion, he last competed against Chael Sonnen in the main event of Bellator 170 in January 2017.
The UFC Hall of Fame member has dabbled in managing fighters, including Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. Ortiz initially felt that Liddell had been holding out on agreeing to the trilogy fight for a bigger payday.
“Oscar said, ‘Let’s get this done.’ I said, ‘Let’s get this done,’ and it took about two and a half months to make Chuck happy enough to make it happen, and it’s signed,” Ortiz said Monday on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “This fight is going to happen this year.”
The event will be an MMA-only card with a standard cage as opposed to a ring but no further details have been offered at this time. Liddell has not indicated that this is a one-off return. That does appear to be the case for Ortiz.