On November 24, a 48-year-old Chuck Liddell and a 43-year-old Tito Ortiz will step into the cage for a third time. The two UFC Hall of Famers and former UFC light heavyweight champions will do so in the main event of the first MMA event put forth by boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya.
Given the age of both fighters, and the fact that Chuck Liddell has not fought since 2010, the first whispers of this bout were met with immediate skepticism. Many fans and pundits argued that the fight should not even be sanctioned.
These criticisms, of course, do not appear to have mattered. The fight will go ahead under the watchful eye of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). Speaking to MMA Fighting this week, CSAC executive Andy Foster explained why.
“He hasn’t fought in a long time,” Foster said of Liddell. “But whether he’s medically fit to fight wasn’t my decision. He’s been medically cleared to fight. … I think that the Tito Ortiz matchup is reasonable. This isn’t the first time they’ve fought, this won’t be the second time they fought. This will be the third time.”
“It’s pretty much beyond dispute that there was a time in Chuck Liddell’s life that he was the best 205-pounder in the world,” Foster continued. “I think that’s beyond dispute. You bring a fighter up the mountain and you bring a fighter down the mountain as a regulator. Chuck Liddell didn’t start his career fighting world championship-level competition. And I wouldn’t approve him to fight a world champion right now or a 205-pound champion at the high levels or a highly ranked fighter like that.
“But Tito, on the same token, I think it’s fair to say he’s not in the prime of his career also, but he’s still a good athlete. He still wants to fight. And Chuck wants to fight. Chuck is still a good athlete. How is this not a competitive match? I think it is competitive. It was competitive the first two times. Chuck won. Just because people are coming down the mountain — to use the analogy — doesn’t mean that they should be disqualified from their chance to compete. Fighters like to fight. I think Chuck wants to compete, I think Tito wants to compete. As long as they’re medically cleared to fight, these people have clearly shown they’re good martial artists. I don’t see the problem of letting two older fighters fight each other.”
“You almost want to treat this as a debut, because of the long layoff,” Foster concluded. “But of course, it’s not a debut. Mr. Liddell is very experienced. He’s not active, but he’s very experienced and he’s still a martial artist.”
Will you be tuning in to watch Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz fight for a third time on November 24?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/31/2018.