Two MMA legends who have never faced each other in the cage, and are now both in or close to their 40s, are the headliners at Bellator 170. The light-heavyweight bout between former UFC champion and UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz and three-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen will take place January 21st at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Ortiz has said he will be retiring after this fight, win or lose, and Sonnen is making his Bellator debut, getting in the cage for the first time since November 2013. The two fought each other once before, decades ago, as wrestlers in college.
Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen
Records: Tito Ortiz (18-12-1 MMA, 2-1 BMMA), Chael Sonnen (29-14-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) Division: Light heavyweight Odds: Tito Ortiz +140 Chael Sonnen -180 Prediction: Sonnen by decision
Tito Ortiz deserves a lot of respect for his VERY LONG career as an MMA fighter. He was a UFC champion, who made his debut in the Octagon when he was still a college student. He started out as a wrestler, transitioning to mixed martial arts and winning his first UFC title in 2000. He left the UFC for Bellator in 2012. Although he’s the fight underdog at +140, a win here would allow him to retire a winner.
Ortiz has earned KO wins in 44% of his fights, but as he’s aged, he’s run out of the steam he once had. Ortiz has lost seven of his last ten fights and his last fight in 2015 was a loss to Liam McGeary. A highly skilled wrestler with respectable striking power, Ortiz has won by knockout eight times during his storied career. That said, the man is 41-years-old, and most agree that he is far past his prime and not in the condition he’d need to be in to get a win here against Sonnen.
This will be Ortiz’s seventh fight in California, his home state, and that home crowd support and energy will definitely give Ortiz some motivation, but as the odds suggest, he might have to retire with one final loss.
Chael Sonnen, who you can also catch on The Celebrity Apprentice these days, is the odds favorite for this fight at -180. Sonnen, in his day, was known for wearing down his opponents and clinching wins that way, winning 57% of his fights by decision. His last fight was in a 2013 loss to Rashad Evans. Then, he was suspended due to a failed drug test.
After several attempts at getting back into the game, Sonnen eventually signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA. Sonnen is inching close to 40 and might not have the endurance in the cage that used to win him fights, so the test will be if he can stay focused through three rounds after being out of it for almost 4 years. This will be Sonnen’s ninth fight in California.
Sonnen was a career title challenger, making three attempts across two weight divisions. His background is wrestling, but in this matchup, he’s the smaller fighter, which might prove a disadvantage. During his career at the UFC, Sonnen beat current UFC champion Michael Bisping and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. His last UFC appearance was at UFC 167.
Bellator 170 Fight Card
MAIN CARD (9 p.m. ET)
Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen Paul Daley vs. Brennan Ward Ralek Gracie vs. Hisaki Kato Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Emmanuel Sanchez Derek Anderson vs. Derek Campos
PRELIMINARY CARD (6:30 p.m. ET)
Chinzo Machida vs. Jamar Ocampo Dave Cryer vs. Jack May Cody Bollinger vs. Henry Corrales Keith Berry vs. Kevin Casey John Mercurio vs. Guilherme Vasconcelos Gabriel Green vs. Jalin Turner Christian Gonzalez vs. Daniel Rodriguez Ian Butler vs. Jacob Rosales Johnny Cisneros vs. Curtis Millender Tommy Aaron vs. Mike Segura James Barnes vs. Rob Gooch Rebecca Ruth vs. Colleen Schneider