Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions is set to venture into the mixed martial arts world and the boxing legend has recruited two former UFC champions to headline the promotion’s first event.
“I’m proud to announce we’ve signed a deal for the fight between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz,” De La Hoya told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in a statement Monday. “This will be huge for sports fans around the world. Ortiz and Liddell are two of the most recognized fighters in MMA history. They are legends in the sport. Everyone remembers their rivalry helped put the sport on the map, and we’re excited to host the next and final chapter of this historic rivalry.”
The date and location of the event is unclear at this time but the two MMA legends are expected to compete in the 205-pound light-heavyweight division.
Liddell and Ortiz were the faces of the UFC in the early part of the 21st century, and their rivalry is considered among the most memorable and important in MMA history considering the mainstream attention it brought to the sport. They first met at UFC 47 in 2004 and their rematch at UFC 66 two years later resulted in more than one million pay-per-view buys — a record for an MMA event at the time. Liddell finished Ortiz with strikes both times.
The 48-year-old Liddell hasn’t competed in MMA since 2010. The “Iceman” was for a time the most devastating knockout artist in his weight class and holds notable victories over the likes of Vitor Belfort, Alistair Overeem, Wanderlei Silva and Randy Couture. Liddell was unable to regain vintage form once he lost his title to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in 2006. After suffering consecutive knockout losses to Rashad Evans, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Rich Franklin, Liddell retired but it wasn’t an easy decision for him.
“I miss it. I never stopped missing it,” Liddell said in May when discussing his plans to return to fighting. “I want to fight. I miss everything.
“Everyone always asks me, ‘Hey man, this must be a lot better than fighting?’ No, no, I still — that was my favourite thing. My wife asks me, ‘How do you like doing that?’ My wife asks me that all the time. I still miss it. I miss everything. I miss cutting weight. I miss everything that goes with it, everything, the good, the bad. It’s all of it. I mean, I miss hanging out at the gym, going and working out every day. It’s fun to me.”
Ortiz, 43, has been more active than Liddell in recent years, having fought nine times since his rival retired, but hasn’t competed since January 2017 when he submitted Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170.