Speaking with MMA Fighting, Sonnen criticized the quality of fighters Ortiz fought in the early days of the sport but also acknowledged his tenacity and willingness to fight anyone. “Tito has been fighting a really long time and fighting at a high level,” Sonnen said. “A lot of the guys he fought back then suck. That’s true. But at that time, they were the top guys. He was truly the best in the world doing it at that time. He didn’t duck anybody. He didn’t dodge anybody. I can remember him stepping up in really hard fights.”
Since the announcement of the fight, Sonnen has cited his college wrestling victory over Ortiz back in 1998 as the beginning of their feud, and even believes he would have stopped Ortiz’s rise to prominence. “I don’t know what I could have done with him at that time,” Sonnen said. “Tito did a very good job and really helped the industry and the organization. My contention from the beginning of this is that I beat him when we were kids and I would have stopped him from being the UFC Champion. I would have stopped him from being in the Hall of Fame.”
For Sonnen, tonight is an opportunity decades in the making. “I told everyone I knew I could beat Tito,” Sonnen said. “It took me 20 years to get here and we’re all going to find out together Saturday”.
Cervantes Analysis: I can’t believe this actually a main event in 2017. Both fighters are way past their prime, and using a 20 year old wrestling match as a way to build hype for fight sounds like the script for the movie Grudge Match. I don’t know how Bellator plans to be a serious competitor in the MMA world when it pulls together these old matches that so few people care about anymore. Still, as this is Ortiz’s last fight, I do hope he pulls out the win, silences Sonnen, and rides off into the sunset to finally enjoy his retirement.
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
– In an interview with ESPN, Tony Ferguson called Conor McGregor a “little bi—” and claimed he probably wouldn’t defend the Lightweight Title.
– Amanda Nunes told Bloody Elbow she’d only like to fight two or three more times before retiring because she then wants to start a family.
-Matt Mitrione spoke with MMA Fighting about the need to unionize in the sport and criticized fight promoters for not paying their fighters fairly.
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S REPORT: FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE 1/20: Top UFC Fight Pass exec leaves WME/IMG, plus notebook (w/Keller’s Analysis)