Chael Sonnen’s Bellator MMA debut is set, and the identity of his opponent isn’t exactly a surprise.
The three-time UFC title challenger will face former UFC light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz at Bellator 170, which is scheduled to take place on January 21st at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) October 19, 2016
When he signed with Bellator in September, Sonnen made it known that he planned on launching into a “legends ass-kicking tour” and Ortiz appeared to be his immediate target.
“Look, Tito is a legend,” Sonnen said(via MMAFighting). “Tito is great. Tito is even a friend of mine, but the bottom line is, he’s been around and I was jealous for a long time. Jealousy is a hell of a thing. There’s a reason it’s one of the deadly sins. When I was out slugging trying to get fights, my shot, Tito was on TV and having the crowd cheer, doing the appearances, doing all these things that I fantasized and wanted to do. And there was really never an opportunity to go against him.”
“We were in the same division in college, same weight class, same conference. I’d see him around at events. I still see him around at the events, but he looks at me the same way I look at him. I look at him like, Tito, you know I could whip your ass. And he gives me that exact same look. Every time we’re in the same room together, it’s like this big alpha male contest. And he knows it’s going on, and I know it’s going on. So if the Bad Boy wants a piece of the Bad Guy, all you gotta do is say my name. I said his name. All he has to do is say mine.”
‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ was quick to respond via social media, and made it known that he was seeking revenge for a loss to Sonnen in a wrestling match some years ago.
— Tito Ortiz (@titoortiz) September 16, 2016
This bout will be Sonnen’s first since November of 2013, when he was stopped inside one round by former UFC light-heavyweight champ Rashad Evans. That was his third loss in four fights, and each of those defeats came via KO/TKO. Sandwiched in between them though, was a submission win over another former titleholder – Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.
Ortiz closed out his UFC career with three straight defeats. Upon arriving in Bellator however, Ortiz put together a pair of victories and landed himself a title fight with England’s Liam McGeary. His challenge for Bellator gold ended quickly though, as the talented McGeary tapped the veteran inside one round at Bellator 142 last September.
At 39 and 41 years old respectively, Sonnen and Ortiz are both well past their primes, but the nostalgia value of this bout and the mic-skills of these two master promoters will combine to ensure that Bellator 170 garners plenty of attention.