On Saturday night, in the main event of Golden Boy Promotions’ first MMA event, former UFC light heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz picked up a long-awaited win over his arch rival Chuck Liddell, melting “The Icemen” with a first-round heater.
While this was a feel-good win for Tito Ortiz, who had been knocked out twice previously by Liddell, it was a tough one to watch for many fans. Liddell, after all, is 48 years old, and had not fought in eight years, since a string of three consecutive knockout losses prompted UFC President Dana White to shepherd him into retirement.
In fact, many members of the MMA community were against this matchup from the outset, worrying for the health of the long-absent, almost 50-year-old Chuck Liddell.
Tito Ortiz understands this perspective. Speaking at the event’s post-fight press conference, he even admitted he probably wouldn’t have let Chuck Liddell fight again if he was his manager.
“If I was his manager, then no,” Ortiz said when asked if he’d let Liddell fight again if he were his manager (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I would have told Chuck, ‘No, let’s get you an ambassador job. Let’s promote your name and get you to signings and do other means of making money.’”
That being said, Tito Ortiz feels that the decision was ultimately Liddell’s — nobody else’s.
“You can’t hold someone back,” he said. “If they feel something they want to do and they want to fight and continue to fight, then you’ve go to let them walk out on their own.”
Ortiz added that it’s entirely up to Liddell to decide if this is the end of the road or not. However, he hopes the UFC Hall of Famer gets a more favorable matchup if he fights again.
“If he still wants to fight, then let’s find him an opponent. Let’s find him someone that isn’t a Tito Ortiz.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Chuck. If wants to compete, then let him compete. Maybe not as a main event, of course. But let’s find him someone that’s a tune-up for him, because I’m not a tune-up fight.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/25/2018.