The countdown to Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz 3 is officially on.
The two UFC Hall of Famers verbally sparred Friday at an introductory press conference in Las Vegas, which marked the first official media event for the pay-per-view trilogy fight between Liddell and Ortiz slated for Nov. 24 and being promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. With the dais draped in Golden Boy regalia, Ortiz took the podium first, and in true boxing press conference fashion, rather than take questions from reporters, he delivered a brief monologue taking aim at Liddell and thanking De La Hoya.
“Live at The Forum, November 24th, I get an opportunity to put you out once and for all,” Ortiz told the attending media. “This came around, I fought last year against Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170, I choked him out in two-and-a-half minutes. He’s still in the heavyweight tournament and still beating guys. This guy next to me (Liddell), he hasn’t fought in over 10 years. He wants to come out of retirement and call me out? I’ve been passionately busy with my other businesses, but you know what? I see the opportunity to finally shut this guy up, to finally get my hand raised on my terms.
“De La Hoya, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to shut this guy up and to start a new business, and to start what MMA truly should be. We go out there and we put our lives on the line. I’ve been through so many major surgeries, and I’ve been able to bounce back. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I’ve put myself through the grindstone — like I said, I’ve been competing for the last 21 years, every single year. And on November 24th, when I get my hand raised over the knucklehead next to me, I’ll show you guys what I’m truly about. And this is only the beginning, man.
“Like I said, I’m 43 years young. I’ve watched guys, the greatest, like Bernard Hopkins be 52 and be a world champion. See guys who are the greatest, like Randy Couture, at 43 being the world champion. You’re going to see Tito Ortiz on November 24th, at 43, getting his hand raised over an old man, a shell of a man, Chuck ‘The Snowflake’ Liddell.”
The rivalry between Liddell, 48, and Ortiz, 43, extends back to the early days of the UFC. The two light heavyweights collided twice inside the Octagon, with Liddell winning both fights via knockout. In 2004, Liddell stopped Ortiz at the 38-second mark of round two at UFC 47. In 2006, he repeated the favor with a third-round stoppage of Ortiz at UFC 66 to defend the promotion’s light heavyweight title.
Liddell retired from MMA in 2010 in the midst of a 1-5 career slide at the behest of UFC president Dana White, however Ortiz continued to compete for another seven years. He finally exited the sport in 2017 following a 3-1 run under the Bellator umbrella that saw him defeat the likes of Alexander Shlemenko, Stephan Bonnar, and Chael Sonnen.
But the opportunity to promote a pay-per-view trilogy fight away from the structure of the UFC and with Golden Boy Promotions pulled both men out of retirement. And when it was his turn on the mic, Liddell vowed that history will repeat itself once more on Nov. 24.
“First, to address Tito, I know you’re hoping I’m a shell of the man that I was, because that’s the only way you have a chance of beating me. But he’s going to find out real quick, November 24th, that I’m not,” Liddell said. “I still hit just as hard, I still wrestle just as well, and he’s gonna get knocked out.
“I’m excited to be back in the sport, and I’m excited to prove to everyone that I’m not too old. You can do anything you put your mind to. I will be there, I will be in shape, and I will be ready. This guy’s getting knocked out, and I am going to enjoy it.”
To that, Ortiz had a quick response.
“You ain’t doing shit,” he said.