Tito Ortiz will take to the Octagon in 2012 in what will be his final fight before retirement. In a largely circulated interview with MiddleEasy Tito stated:
July, hopefully Fourth of July weekend I will be fighting my last fight and I will be done. That's it: It's time to walk away. You know, Forrest, or I know everybody would like to see me against Chuck (Liddell) and, I don't know. We will see what Lorenzo and Dana have to offer and see what they want to do. I'll sit down with Lorenzo and Dana next week and let's see, let's make a fight, my last fight and let's make a memorable one.
The general consensus, to my surprise, were fans of Chuck's saying they'd love to see him beat Tito for a third time. My initial reaction as a fan was disgust. What has Tito done to warrant a third fight with Chuck? Furthermore, Chuck has beaten Tito badly in both fights. Why would Chuck risk giving Tito the satisfaction of ending his career with a win?
For fans of Chuck Liddell who are concerned about him taking the bait and asking to get in the Octagon one last time with Tito, don't worry, this fight will not happen, and here are five reasons why.
Between 1997 and 2006, Tito Ortiz helped propel the UFC to mainstream status. During those years, however, he was also a problem child for Dana White and the promotion.
Whether it was a disagreement over his contract, his disrespect for opponents or simply a desire to be the "Bad Boy" of the sport, Tito continued to do what Tito wanted to do.
He projected himself as somebody who felt as though the sport owed him something.
Tito has said many times that he fights for the money, not for the sport. He will do anything to sell a fight, and he made his name by being controversial. He also has a track record for backing out of fights against Chuck Liddell.
After Tito's win against Ken Shamrock at UFC 40, he knew Chuck was next in line. Instead of facing Chuck, Tito decided to take time to renegotiate his contract and held out for more money. Eventually the two did face each other a year-and-a-half later.
The second time Tito backed out against Chuck came towards the end of The Ultimate Fighter Season 11. Chuck had agreed to be a coach for the season with the understanding he would be fighting Tito when the show concluded. He also told Dana there was no way Tito was going to stay committed to fighting him.
Tito ended up backing out of the fight a few weeks before the season finale due to back surgery. Valid reason or not, he backed out once again, and who's to say he wouldn't do it for a third time against Chuck.
Chuck had a great UFC career and he did things the right way. He didn't dodge opponents and he never had an excuse when he lost. He has nothing to gain by getting into the Octagon with Tito again.
Chuck has beaten Tito twice. At UFC 47, he dropped Tito and won via TKO in the second round. Then again at UFC 66, Chuck continuously reigned down punches on Tito until the fight was stopped in the third round.
Two fights against Tito, and two TKOs without any controversy surrounding the fight. Well, Tito did say he was poked in the eye in their first fight, but it didn't take anything away from Chuck's victory.
Should Chuck fight Tito for a third time, it would be a reversal or roles for Tito. Tito had beaten Ken Shamrock twice, and for one reason or another they met for a third time in which Tito won again. Heading into that fight, Tito had nothing to gain and everything to lose.
Chuck now faces that same predicament. A win over Tito and the masses would say it was expected because Chuck had already won twice before. A loss against Tito not only gives him another loss to end his career, but he will have to live knowing he gave Tito the satisfaction of beating him.
Considering the bad blood Chuck and Tito have had with each other over the years, there is no way Chuck risks relinquishing the bragging rights he will have over Tito for the rest of his life.
Chuck Liddell's intensity and fighting style is what drew many fans to the sport, including myself. It was very disheartening to see his career rapidly decline after UFC 71—when he was knocked out by Rampage Jackson.
Chuck did manage to give us one more classic fight against Wanderlie Silva at UFC 79. That fight gave fans hope that the losses against Jackson and then to Keith Jardine were just a bump in the road of his illustrious career.
Then came Rashad Evans. The crisp sound of Rashad's punch right to the chin of Chuck still rings in my head today. That is how perfect and violent that punch was. It was also the punch that signaled the demise of Chuck's chin, and inevitably his career.
Today, at the age of 42, Chuck Liddell would still be able to put a beating on Tito Ortiz. He can still stuff the takedowns, and still has the speed to land those combinations that dropped Tito in each of their two fights.
What Chuck does not have is a chin to sustain any sort of direct hit to it.
Dana White is a successful business man, but he is also a very close friend to Chuck Liddell. Dana reluctantly let Chuck fight against Rich Franklin and in doing so, he saw Chuck get knocked out for the fourth time in three years. He will not make the same mistake this time around.
If Chuck feels Tito is calling him out for fight, the competitor in him will go to Dana and say "let me fight." Dana knows this fight would produce big pay-per-view numbers, but he also knows Chuck can no longer take a punch to the chin. Should Tito hit Chuck with the same punch he hit Ryan Bader with, Chuck will most likely go down.
Dana White will look past the potential revenue of this fight and take into account Chuck's best interest, which is his health. He will not let this fight happen and risk permanent damage to his friend.
Chuck Liddell is in the midst of some very important family milestones. He is engaged to longtime girlfriend, Heidi Northcott, and the two of them are expecting their first child together any day now.
Chuck also has children from a previous relationship in which he is always talking about on his twitter page.
At one time, Chuck would discuss training and fights in interviews and on Twitter. Now one can see that his focus is on his family as well as his position as Executive Vice President of Business Development for the UFC.
The "Ice Man" was a great fighter, and he will never lose that competitive edge to fight. He is also a smart man who has a family and does not want to risk serious cognitive damage that could jeopardize his quality of life.
The No. 1 reason why Tito Ortiz will not fight Chuck Liddell to end his career is because Chuck has settled into the family life and there is no sum of money that would be able to make up for a potentially devastating head injury, should he suffer yet another knockout.