As the combat sports world prepared itself for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin to run it back at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, two of MMA’s most familiar faces — Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell — on Sept. 14 faced off in the first official media event for their trilogy match promoted by Golden Boy MMA. Over 15 at-times excruciating minutes, Golden Boy Chairman and former boxing great Oscar De La Hoya uh’d and ah’d his way through an introduction of the two combatants and their camps, before Ortiz and Liddell made short statements and squared off before the assembled media.
It was a peculiar occasion, made more so by its association with the biggest boxing event of 2018. Whereas Alvarez-Golovkin 2 rematched two of pugilism’s most accomplished stars at the peak of their respective careers, Liddell-Ortiz 3 is a contest on the polar opposite end the spectrum, a fight 10 years past its sell-by date for which no conscientious member of the MMA community was asking. “The Iceman” hasn’t won a fight in more than a decade and was forced into retirement in 2010 after a string of unsettling stoppage losses; and while the self-proclaimed “People’s Champion” experienced something of a career renaissance in the Bellator MMA cage, no one was clamoring for Ortiz to make a (second) return to competition.
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