We’ve been here before, but on Saturday night, it really did feel like the end.
Ttio Ortiz stepped into the cage opposite Chael Sonnen in the Bellator 170 main event in Inglewood, Calif., knowing it would be his final trip to the cage. He had said for weeks that it would be his retirement bout.
For Sonnen, it was his first trip to the cage in more than three years. He had retired amidst anti-doping violations that led to a two-year suspension. After his suspension was up, however, he still had the itch to compete and decided to do it fighting for Bellator.
Waiting for the fight to start, Ortiz was bouncing out of his skin, singing the national anthem along with Chris Daughtry. He looked almost as he might be too amped up for his final fight. He was anything but.
Perhaps Sonnen was showing three years worth of ring rust. Perhaps Ortiz was just that well prepared for his final fight. Or maybe it was a little bit of both, but it was Ortiz’s night, and he wasn’t about to let Sonnen steal his thunder.
Straight out of the gate, Ortiz landed a right hand that rocked Sonnen. A moment later, Ortiz took him down with a single leg.
TRENDING > Floyd Mayweather Finds New Excuse for Not Fighting Conor McGregor
Sonnen had locked on an arm-in guillotine choke as Ortiz took him to the canvas, but “the People’s Champ” never looked to be in too much trouble, as a minute later he popped his head out.
Ortiz quickly moved from half guard to full mount, a move that he later said he had worked tirelessly in practice because he knew the opportunity would be there in the fight.
From mount, Ortiz dropped a couple elbows that forced Sonnen to turn and try to avoid further punishment. Ortiz stayed on him, taking his back and locking on a rear-naked choke. The choke wasn’t deep. In fact, it appeared to be around the chin, but a short time later, the color in his face deepening, Sonnen tapped out.
An ecstatic Ortiz performed his usual celebration, leaping to the top of the cage and throwing his arms to the sky.
“I’m happy that I’m able to do this in a respectful way in front of my hometown. Los Angeles, thank you very, very much,” Ortiz said after the fight.
A proud father, Ortiz had earlier handed his gloves to his son, Jacob, who walked out with him to the cage and stood beside him in victory. Leaving the cage for the final time, he had his son perform the final honor.
“Everyone, this will be the last time that I’ll be in this cage. So, as we do in wrestling, usually you retire your wrestling shoes. Tonight, Jan. 21, 2017, I’m gonna let my son lay these gloves down right here in the Bellator cage because this is the last time I’m gonna be fighting.”
Follow MMAWeekly.com on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram