Chuck Liddel and Tito Ortiz Rivalry
By Penelope Trent - March 8, 2023

Before signing an exclusive rights agreement with ESPN in 2019, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) had established itself as the venue for the sport’s best caliber MMA contests and rivalries. Die-hard followers witnessed some of the company’s most genuine, intimate, and heated clashes in its formative years. Among the greatest rivalries in sports today, their origins are in the UFC.

This battle between former friends who became adversaries was straight out of a fairy tale. Following their defeats by Randy Couture, Liddel and Ortiz grew close and started working out together to help one another get ready for fights. But as their friendship grew, Chuck continued to amass victories, and soon, people wondered when he would challenge for the crown. To prepare for his upcoming title bout with his friend, Liddell started to separate himself from Ortiz after helping him prepare for his fight against light heavyweight champion Vitor Belford.

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After Randy Couture defeated Ortiz for the light heavyweight championship at UFC 44 in 2002, a year went by before Ortiz was forced to face Chuck to advance in his quest to recapture the title. First up was a bout at UFC 47, in which Liddell ultimately prevailed by K.O. in the second round, making him an overnight sensation. After the loss, Ortiz took a 14-month break from the sport to collect himself, but he eventually returned to show that he was still among the best in the light heavyweight category.

Following his victory against Randy Couture in a rematch, Lidell switched his attention to a hungry and determined Tito Ortiz for a grudge match at UFC 66. During the third round of the match, Liddell triumphed once more via K.O. At a Golden Boy Promotions event in 2016, Ortiz and Liddell fought a third time. Still, this time Liddell appeared to be in no shape to return to the octagon, which led to an Ortiz first-round knockout and gave him the victory in this legendary trilogy.