Tito Ortiz wanted to beat Chuck Liddell more than anything. He tried twice and was unsuccessful.
The third time proved to be the charm, as two vicious right hands sent Liddell crumbling to the canvas, sealing Ortiz’s win by TKO at 4:24 of the first round of the first event promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy MMA.
“You’re not taking eight years off, coming back in my cage and trying to stop me,” Ortiz said during his postfight interview. “Hell, no!”
Something seemed off with Liddell as he appeared to be limping while walking to the cage. It showed in his performance, as the 48-year-old looked like a shell of his former self from the opening bell. His laser right hand was slow to the draw and he didn’t even make Ortiz flinch like he did when Liddell finished him back at UFC 47 in 2004 and UFC 66 in 2006.
Ortiz was getting the better of the exchanges Saturday night and you could see him beaming with confidence with each passing second. He was stalking the slower Liddell (21-9) and it even got to the point where Ortiz dropped both of his hands and begged Liddell to hit him in the chin.
Ortiz (20-12-1) connected on a straight right hand to the chin immediately followed by a left hand and then a devastating right that sent Liddell crashing to the ground. The former UFC light heavyweight champion seized the moment and blasted Liddell with a couple of left hands for good measure and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight. Ortiz capped it off by doing his famous “Grave Digger” routine, while Liddell lay on the mat.
When the fight ended, the two former rivals buried their feud and embraced.
Ortiz was asked by Frank Mir if beating his greatest rival would signal the end to his storied career. To that, the 43-year-old smiled and didn’t answer.
Here is what happened at Liddell vs. Ortiz 3.
(All times Eastern.)
Ortiz scores first-round TKO of Liddell
12:11 a.m.: Ortiz def. Liddell by TKO (punches) at 4:24 of the first round. Ortiz blasted Liddell with a straight right hand and caught “The Iceman” with a left and another right, dropping his rival. Ortiz snuck in a couple of left hands, before the ref stopped the fight. Ortiz wins and is doing his “Grave Digger” celebration.
12:02 a.m.: It is now time for the main event as Chuck Liddell battles Tito Ortiz for the third time. Liddell defeated Ortiz in their first two fights. But this will be the first time that the former UFC light heavyweight champion has fought since June 2015 at UFC 115, when he got knocked out by Rich Franklin. Ortiz last competed in January 2017, submitting Chael Sonnen in the first round.
Can the 43-year-old Ortiz finally get the victory he desires or does the 48-year-old Liddell turn back the clock and show he still has more to offer?
Deron Winn shines, beating UFC veteran Tom Lawlor
11:43 p.m.: Winn def. Lawlor by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). Great showing by the teammate of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier. Winn showed he could go 15 minutes against a tough out. He flashed explosive power in the first two rounds as every punch was thrown with evil intentions. Going into the third round with the fight well in hand, Winn played it safe, recording a takedown to help secure the victory and remain undefeated. The 29-year-old definitely has potential to be a world champion. He has the right people around him to ensure that he has every tool and opportunity to achieve all of his goals and dreams.
11:34 p.m.: Entertaining second round from Lawlor and Winn. They stood the entire round trading left and right hands. Winn was landing the heavier shots as he rocked Lawlor on more than one occasion. Lawlor had blood pouring down his face walking back to his corner when the round ended.
11:22 p.m.: It is now time for the co-main event of Liddell vs. Ortiz 3: Tom Lawlor takes on Deron Winn in light heavyweight action. This will be the first time that Lawlor (10-6-1 no contest) has fought since March 2016, when he failed a drug test and was released by the UFC right before his suspension came to an end. All of Winn’s victories (4-0) have come in the first round. Winn hasn’t faced anyone with the pedigree of Lawlor, who will be looking to make a statement in his return.
Gleison Tibau decisions Efrain Escudero
11:05 p.m: Tibau def. Escudero by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Solid battle between the former UFC veterans. After Tibau won the first round with good wrestling and Escudero did the same in the second, it all came down to the final round. Tibau and Escudero exchanged heavy shots in the middle of the cage until the final minute, when Tibau scored a key takedown, which not only helped him to win the round, but the fight, as he earned his first victory since January 2015.
10:42 p.m.: Right now at Liddell vs. Ortiz 3, Gleison Tibau fights Efrain Escudero at a catchweight bout of 160 pounds. Tibau (33-14) fought 28 times in the UFC, but lost his last four bouts, resulting in the company releasing him. Escudero (30-13) is on a nice streak, having won back-to-back fights and four of his last five bouts.
Ricky Palacios knocks out Walel Watson
10:32 p.m.: Palacios def. Watson by knockout at 3:56 of the first round. Palacios rocked Watson early with a left hook immediately followed by a left hand. Watson tried to fire back, but Palacios was just too strong for him. Palacios blasted Watson with a straight right hand followed by a left hook that grazed Watson’s chin. Watson was on his way down when Palacios connected on a perfect right kick that ended the bout. That’s eight straight wins for Palacios. There’s no reason why Palacios shouldn’t be getting bigger and better fights after this performance.
10:25 p.m.: Coming up next at Liddell vs. Ortiz 3, Ricky Palacios squares off against Walel Watson at a catchweight of 140 pounds. Palacios (10-1) is on a tear, as he has won seven consecutive fights, including defeating Toby Misech during the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in July. Watson (14-11) needs a victory in the worst way, having lost four of his last five bouts. The fight was scheduled to be at the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds, but Palacios said he wouldn’t be able to make weight, so they agreed to 140 pounds. Palacios still couldn’t make weight coming in at 142 pounds.
James Barnes makes Albert Morales tap out
10:15 p.m.: Barnes def. Morales via submission (armbar) at 4:09 of the third round. Solid performance from Barnes. He neutralized Morales’s striking attack at every turn and ended up taking him down to the ground. Barnes wasn’t respecting Morales’s attempts at a triangle choke, as every time Morales locked in the hold, Barnes just poured down heavy ground-and-pound punches.
Knowing he was down on the scorecards heading into the third round, Morales started letting his hands go. Tired of keeping the fight on the feet, Barnes took Morales right back down to the ground. Whenever Morales tried to squirm out and get the fight back to an upright position, Barnes just kept punching Morales in the face. The end came when Morales tried for a kimura. Barnes quickly reversed it into an armbar. Morales tried everything in his power to get out, but decided to eventually tap out. Barnes has now won back-to-back fights and five of his last six.
9:50 p.m.: Up next at Liddell vs. Ortiz 3, Albert Morales takes on James Barnes. Morales (7-4-1) is in dire need of a win, having lost three consecutive fights. Barnes (10-3) has won four of his last five bouts. Out of his 10 wins, nine have come via stoppage.
After suffering numerous low blows, Jay Silva submits Oscar Cota
9:38 p.m.: Silva def. Cota by submission (arm triangle choke) at 2:13 of the third round. In the third round, Silva took Cota down to the mat. Silva got into full mount and slid his left arm under Cota. Silva squeezed as hard as he could. Cota’s arm went limp and the referee called the fight.
Not the most entertaining fight, but one Silva desperately needed to get back on track.
9:31 p.m.: An entertaining second round as Silva rocked Cota and sent him right to the canvas and almost finished him off. Referee Mike Beltran deducted two points from Cota for two illegal blows to the groin and an eye poke. Cota is down big on the scorecards and needs a finish in the third round to win the fight.
9:18 p.m.: Kicking off the main card of Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 are heavyweights Oscar Cota and Jay Silva. After suffering the first loss of his career in March 2013, Cota (8-1 no contest) has won six consecutive fights. Silva (11-12-1), a UFC and Bellator veteran, is 2-3 over his last five bouts. Expect the heavy artillery to be coming early and often.
9:02 p.m.: Welcome to Sporting News’s live coverage of the trilogy bout between former UFC light heavyweight champions Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. Grab your refreshments and get settled in as we inch closer to the highly-anticipated clash.
Liddell vs. Ortiz fight card
(Winners in bold)
- Tito Ortiz def. Chuck Liddell; light heavyweights
- Deron Winn def. Tom Lawlor; light heavyweights
- Gleison Tibau def. Efrain Escudero; catchweight 160 pounds
- Ricardo Palacios def. Walel Watson; bantamweights
- James Barnes def. Albert Morales; bantamweights
- Jay Silva def. Oscar Cota; heavyweights