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  The Third Time's The Charm: Ortiz Knocks Out Liddell

By Barbara Pinnella
Photos: Andrea Kaus


On Saturday night Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions chose The Forum in Inglewood, CA. to host their first MMA card. The main event featured a third fight between the two war horses Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell (21-9), who had won both the previous fights, and Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz (20-12-1). Liddell might have had the upper hand in their other two encounters, but there was no doubt whatsoever who held all the cards on this night.

Chuck looked finished from the outset; actually sooner than that. When he was seen on the big screen making his way to the ring he appeared to be limping. Things did not get any better once he was in the cage. Tito was making all of the contact, even doing some showboating, dropping his hands and begging Liddell to take a shot. It never happened. At 4:24 of the first round, Ortiz put an end to the contest with his fists, as a right, left, right combination knocked Chuck out, making referee Herb Dean jump in to prevent any further damage.

“I wasn’t gonna wrestle; this fight was never about wrestling,” Tito said at the post-fight press conference. “I kept saying to him that I was gonna take him down and he thought I was giving away my secret. But no, I was gonna punch him because I believe in my hands. I’ve been sparring with the best guys in the world. I put my work in.

“Twenty-one years I’ve been in the game of Mixed Martial Arts. I’ve been through the worst of the worst and the highest of the highs like no other. I really have to thank my fans for having my back for all of these years. Whoever is going through hard times in life and don’t think they can get through it, just bite down and get through it. Do positive things; do things to give back.”

“I’m done. There is nobody left I want to fight. I want to focus on great stuff. I still have my head on my shoulders. I’m willing to walk away. I want to be a businessman. I want to help give back to the fighters. After fighting for 21 years I want to step back and be a promoter, and grow the next Tito Ortiz’, the next Chuck Liddells grow the next Rampage Jacksons, Ken Shamrocks; give them the opportunity to make the real money here.”

And what will he miss the most about fighting?

“Having my hand raised,” he answered quickly. “And the fans. I love the fans!”

Liddell had some things to say about his fight as well.

“I showed up, no excuses,” he said. “I was in great shape, ready to go, and he was the better man. So, there it is. I loved being in there. You’ve got to understand, I love fighting. I never did this for money or fame. That’s not why I started. I did this because I love being out there. I was ready to go. I wish I had done a few things different, obviously, but it happens.

“I don’t want to think about that right now,” Liddell said, when asked about retiring. “I’m not in the right state of mind to really talk about whether or not I’m done or not, but I felt good out there, and I had fun. So, we’ll see.”

Highly touted prospect Deron Winn made the best of his opportunity in this co-main event, and extended his record to 5-0. Winn got the unanimous decision in this light heavyweight fight with identical scores of 30-27, over Tom Lawlor, who went to 10-7-1. This was the first time that Deron had not made an early night for himself. He had won all his prior bouts in the first round, so a good test here for Winn, and one that he passed.

Lawlor was bloodied in the first round, and the blood continued to flow in the second. Winn was good with both his fists and kicks, and struck hard and often. But Tom was able to fight back in the second, and the two exchanged blows. In the third we finally saw a takedown from Winn, but Lawlor was able to get out of a headlock. In fact, Tom was able to get out of all the holds, but it made no difference in the eventual outcome.

Not only is he talented, Winn has the likes of the UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and the light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier around him. With those positives, the future looks to be bright for the 29-year-old Winn.

“I just want to let LA know; mark your calendars, this is the day you witnessed a star be born” Winn said following the fight. “I really wanted to show off my power tonight. Tom is a vet, he can run his mouth but he’s a tough fighter. For a guy like me, I knew I had to connect my punches to knock him out. After I landed a couple, I realized I was going to have to rumble with him. Oscar – I’m a free agent man!”

In a bout fought under a catchweight of 160 pounds, we saw a good back and forth battle between eventual winner Gleison Tibau (30-14) and Efrain Escudero (28-14). This was a pretty evenly matched fight that saw Tibau get a takedown in the first round, and Escudero get one in the second. The fight could have gone either way until the last five minutes.

Both fighters were a bit hit and miss in the third, but finally, nearing the end of the fight, Tibau got a takedown. He never let Escudero get out of the hold and was able to land some punches on Efrain until the horn sounded. He did enough in that round to win the fight with identical scores of 29-28 three times.

The 140 catchweight match between Ricardo Palacios (11-1) and Walel Watson (13-12) ended up being a short one. It was all Palacios who went on the attack from the beginning. He landed many punches before a huge right hand landed, followed up by a left to the throat of Watson for the knockout at 3:56 of that opening round. This certainly seemed to be an easy victory for Palacios and made up his eighth straight win.

After the fight, Ricardo said, “People don’t know how many obstacles you have to deal with to get to this point. I get all sentimental because some people don’t understand how hard it is to live this life. But I have no excuses; I came to do my job. I didn’t get a chance to watch any of his (Watson) videos to prepare; I just knew he was a bit lanky. At my gym we have great southpaws and Muay Thai fighters that helped me get ready. I’m ready to go home and spend time with my three little ones.”

In a bantamweight bout, James Barnes (11-4) went up against Albert Morales (7-5-1). Barnes showed that he had control of this fight all along, as any attempts at really fighting through whatever James had did not work for Morales. Albert was unable to hit Barnes, and found it hard to stay on his feet as well, since James could take him down at will as well.

Finally, in the third and final round, Barnes took Morales down and locked in the armbar. Albert was unable to pull out of it, and finally had to tap at 4:09 of that final round. Out of those 11 victories for Barnes, 10 of them have come by stoppage.
“I thought I would finish him earlier honestly,” Barnes said after the fight. “He came at me like an amateur. He was intimidated by me.  I can’t wait to go back to Team Crush to get the next one. I just want to fight the top talent. I want to be tested and pushed to the limit.”

Morales did have his moment in the spotlight when he proposed to his girlfriend. While she was not in the ring, word was that she said yes. So it ended up being a happy night for Albert after all.

Heavyweights started off the PPV portion of the card as Oscar Cota (8-2) took on Jay Silva (10-10). There was not a lot of action in the first, especially by Silva, who didn’t seem to be in the game yet. He came to life in the second however. This was a rough, ready, and ugly fight that saw points deducted by referee Mike Beltran twice in the second round, both against Cota. One was for low blows and the other for an eye poke. This is what I was told, but I can’t be certain.

In the third Cota went for and got a takedown, but Silva was able to get up and then get one of his own. He squeezed, Cota went limp, and Beltran waved the fight off at 2:13 of that third round, giving Silva the victory by submission.
Jay Silva had this to say after the fight.” Oscar (Cota) was weak! I just left a massacre inside the cage. I am so happy with my win! I just want to keep on fighting. I want Oscar De La Hoya to keep putting together MMA fights so that I can keep impressing him.”

Results - Undercard Professional Fights

Bantamweights - Francisco Estrada (pro debut) wins by RNC at 2:47 in round two over Jose Huerta (2-3).
“I got caught in the middle of a little adversity, but I wasn’t really hurt,” said Estrada. “Honestly, it turns me on being caught in tough situations. I knew I was coming in with a little less experience with it being my pro-debut, but I knew I just had to be patient. I’m reppin’ Fillmore! All I had to do was wait for the right moment to move in with the squeeze.”

Featherweights - Fernie Garcia (5-0) wins by RNC at 2:48 in first round over Joe Roye (1-6).
Garcia said, “It was a short night, as expected. Most of my professional fights have been ending like this. I’ve been training with the best world class team in Texas – Coach Sayif has been working wonders with me. I feel unstoppable.”
Catchweight 180 – Johnny “Tattooed Terror” Cisneros (12-6) UD 30-26 on all cards over Dave Terrell (7-9).

Cisneros said, “It is freaking amazing to take home this win! I am extremely humbled and honored to take part on the first ever MMA card that Golden Boy has put together. I hope that they choose me to be on their cards in the future. My opponent was HUGE, but I was confident with my training and worked with much bigger guys in the gym in preparation for this.”

Catchweight 190 – Joseph Henle (11-4-1) wins by RNC at 1:15 first round over Keith Berry (15-14-1).

Welterweight – Joshua Jones (8-3) UD 30-26 on all cards over Craig Wilkerson (7-5).

Results Amateur Fights

Middleweights - Noah Christy (5-1) UD 30-26 twice and 29-28 over Casey Smith (4-3).

Featherweights – Josh Wang Kim (15-1) TKO over Johnny Robles (7-3).

Flyweights - Mary Almario (4-1) UD 29-28 on all cards over Tyler Schafer (3-2).

Bantamweights - John Wang Kim (15-1) MD 29-28 twice and 28-29 over Mauro Gutierrez (6-3).

Strawweights – Julianna Miller (8-0) UD 29-28 twice and 29-27 over Sidney Trillo (2-1).

So it remains to be seen just how the numbers will stack up to determine the actual success of this first Golden Boy MMA event. The attendance at The Forum was 7839, but it certainly sounded as if there were more folks there. The fans were loud and enthusiastic, and when the main event was about to start it was absolutely electric in that building. Time will tell where they go from here.


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