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Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz III Pick

MMA Fight: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz III
When: Saturday, November 24, 2018
Time: 11PM EDT
Where: Forum, Inglewood, California
TV: PPV

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Chuck Liddell, (+200), 30-8 (20 KOs, 2 Submissions) vs. Tito Ortiz, (-260), 19-12-1 (8 KOs, 5 Submissions)

In Golden Boy's first foray into MMA, we get a big-name main event, as former UFC light heavyweight champions Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz battle it out for the third time. Liddell is 48 and hasn't been in a fight in eight years. Ortiz is no youngster himself at 43, but has been somewhat-active and successful in these types of fights between aging legends. It's a fight that a lot of people wish wasn't taking place, but it's also a very interesting fight from a betting standpoint, where there is so much contrasting information.

It's not just that Liddell is coming back after such a long layoff and at a very advanced fighting age of 48. What gives it that edge of darkness is how badly he looked in the prolonged final chapter of his career, when we saw a once-proud and invulnerable champion reduced to punching bag status. He lost five of his last six fights, with all of those losses being of the very bad variety. At the end, it was hard to watch, as any hard semi-connect seemed to send Liddell into an unconscious heap on the floor. While a layoff could conceivably have Liddell refreshed on a certain level, there are physiological concerns that no sabbatical can really fix. Advanced age doesn't do wonders for a fighter's chin. It's just that there is a lot of concern for Liddell on the part of those whose hearts are in the right place. He's maybe not punchy, but his tongue is pretty thick nowadays and another splattering on the canvas is not something that anyone really wants to see—except Tito.

And despite all that, it's simply hard to forget that Liddell has already knocked Ortiz out twice and was his master when both were at or near their primes. Sometimes, that never changes. Once the master, always the master. And it's not like Tito has the scariest hands in the world, as he was never able to compete with Liddell standing up. So there are some stylistic issues that still favor Liddell, even at 48 and with nearly a decade out of action.

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It's hard to gauge where Tito really is at this point, having retired and unretired so many times. He certainly has a more-relevant connection with modern MMA, a sport that is still young and therefore will change a lot in eight years. He last fought in 2017 and scored a win, his third in four fights. So he has fought and won recently. Still, those were against other old guys. Before going 3-1 in his last four, he had gone 1-7-1 in his last nine fights and was no longer terribly-viable at the higher reaches of the sport. You see a fighter of his status with a 19-12-1 record and it's clear that the last-half of his career wasn't very fruitful. So before we write Liddell off as a fossil in this sport, Ortiz isn't that far off.

Still, at no point did you fear for Tito. Sure, he wasn't what he used to be, but he never eroded to the point that Liddell did. In MMA, it doesn't take much to render a championship fighter an also-ran. Ortiz saw the sport pass him by, as he lost some of his physical abilities and perhaps some of his overall hunger. But in terms of distance traveled, Ortiz' fall-from-grace is like falling off a chair, whereas Liddell fell off a cliff.

Liddell is a proud man. One has to imagine he's going to prepare big-time for this. There will be no light-hearted approach here, even if he's facing a man he twice knocked out. One gets the feeling this means more to him, as he hates leaving the image he left as a fighter and wants to end on a positive note. Ortiz surely wants to exorcise the Liddell demon, but how important is it for him to him to beat a guy pushing 50 who people are scared for? It's not like it would even put a dent in losing to him twice—back when it really mattered. And he has to know this.

Again, maybe the time off helped Liddell. And he showed how well he matches up style-wise with Ortiz. It's just that Ortiz has held up surprisingly well. He can still slap in a submission choke and use his hands to good affect. He holds a 2011 win over Ryan Bader, a current top heavyweight. Most of his losses in recent years have been against really good fighters and for the most part, he wasn't getting knocked out or embarrassed.

Again, Ortiz hasn't looked like the peak version of himself in quite some time, but it's all relative. Last year, he was winning. Eight years ago, his opponent was being flung on the canvas like a load of taffy. Eleven years ago, Liddell even lost to Keith Jardine, who might not be even as good as 2018 Tito. The five years of age isn't so much of a concern when a fighter is 35 and his opponent is 30. But the five years at this point are crucial. There are a lot of 43-year olds who have achieved notable athletic feats. How many 48-year olds have thrived in these kinds of athletic endeavors? Bernard Hopkins? With him, you're talking about a guy who stressed defense and never took a beating, not a guy who spent his late thirties getting pile-driven to the canvas out-cold.

Again, there's a chance Liddell comes out and looks decent. But there is nothing about him that is bankable at this point. He's old and inactive, coming off a horrible close to a career that ended a long time ago and probably a few fights too late. Ortiz has enough questions surrounding him to make this a dicey bet, including the two previous defeats to Liddell. But he remains a reasonable-enough facsimile of his former self to make this a tough fight for a version of Liddell that is so far-removed from his prime, you need a telescope to see it. I'm taking Ortiz.

Loot's Pick to Win the Match: I'm betting on Tito Ortiz at -260 betting odds. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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