As Dana White looks to push into new territory with the drive toward starting up Zuffa Boxing – a UFC-esque foray into the sweet science – Oscar De La Hoya is reaching out in the other direction. The former world champion boxer, and current major player in the world of fight promotion – under his namesake ‘Golden Boy’ brand – recently announced his intentions of promoting mixed martial arts as well.
And to kick off the MMA arm of his company, he’s enlisting two of yesteryear’s biggest stars: Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz.
Liddell and Ortiz were the backbone of the UFC’s transition from SEG to Zuffa and the promotion’s early rise to prominence as a major player in the North American sports landscape. Between 2000 and 2006 they monopolized the light heavyweight title picture, racking up nine successful title defenses between them. They also had one of the sport’s biggest rivalries.
The men fought twice, with Liddell winning both times. The first in 2004, shortly following the end of Ortiz’s title reign at the hands of Randy Couture, and the second time in 2006 – the final successful defense of Liddell’s time as champion. That second fight, at UFC 66, became the first UFC PPV to break one million buys. It also, coincidentally, marked the end of both men’s time as elite competitors in the sport.
Now, however, ESPN has confirmed that they’ll get a chance to reclaim past glory with a third bout in their long standing rivalry. And they’ll be doing it with the help of Oscar De La Hoya on PPV. ESPN reports that the bout agreement has been signed and that they’re expected to fight at some point later this year. The final date and venue have yet to be set.
Rumors of a return to competition have been surrounding Chuck Liddell for years, since his retirement back in 2010. Following the termination of his executive role with the UFC front office, what had seemed like little more than a pipe dream has started to sound a lot more like reality.
In an interview with the MMA Hour back in May, Liddell made it clear that whether a fight with Ortiz came together or not, he would be returning to the cage. And in a recent statement to ESPN he sounded like he couldn’t be happier to be fighting again.
“It feels great to sign a deal, to be honest with you. It’s as exciting as I knew it would be. Golden Boy offers something different. We’re partners in this. And I never get sick of punching Tito.”
If Liddell wins, he’s even suggested that he may have other fights in mind. Meanwhile, Ortiz – who retired most recently in January of 2017 – seems to feel like this fight is the only thing he’d possibly consider.
“I’m only interested in fighting Chuck at this time. If anything, the rivalry is worse than it ever was. This isn’t made for TV. This is as real as it gets.”
Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more updates and news on Golden Boy’s first MMA event as it approaches.
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