Ortiz caught Liddell with a one-two against the cage late in the first round and Liddell crumbled in the main event of Golden Boy Promotions’ inaugural MMA card Saturday night at The Forum. The finish came at 4:24 of the first.
Liddell knocked Ortiz out in 2004 and then again in 2006. Both are UFC Hall of Famers, two of the best light heavyweight fighters in the history of MMA and their rivalry was a key to the growth of the sport.
Liddell seemed a bit stiff early in the first after being out of action for eight years. Ortiz, who has been more active recently, seemed to notice that and grinned. At one point, Ortiz stood in the center of the cage and dared Liddell to hit him.
Ortiz landed in an exchange and Liddell fell earlier in the round, but it looked to be more of a slip. Still, Liddell was wearing some damage, while Ortiz was not heading toward the finish. Liddell did land a few times, but nothing of any kind of significance.
Ortiz, known throughout his career for wrestling, said afterward that he wanted to stand and trade with “The Iceman,” whom has always been known for knockout power.
“The whole game plan was never to do a takedown,” Ortiz said. “I wanted to box Chuck. I wanted to test his skills.”
Liddell said he made a mistake, got caught and had no excuses. When asked what was next for him, he said he didn’t know. Ortiz hugged Liddell and thanked him afterward. He also cut a promo about the future of Golden Boy MMA, saying it would change the game and be better for fighters.
In the co-main event, Deron Winn cemented his prospect status and picked up a signature win against a UFC vet. Winn defeated Tom Lawlor by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), using more of his standup prowess than his vaunted wrestling.
Winn (5-0) was billed as a top wrestler coming out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., where he trains alongside Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov. But he ended up busting Lawlor up in the first two rounds in the striking. Winn, 29, only started going for takedowns — and landing them — in the third after Lawlor hurt him with a combination.
Winn, who is just 5-foot-7, said he was impressed with Lawlor’s durability, because he didn’t fold after some hard overhand rights early. Winn definitely packs some punch.
“I was like, ‘Oh shit, I’ve gotta really fight this dude,’” Winn said.
Winn called out Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya afterward, saying he was a free agent and to let him know what’s next for Golden Boy MMA.
Lawlor (10-7) was coming off more than two years away from MMA due to USADA suspension following a positive drug test. The UFC released Lawlor in September, just six weeks before his ban would have been completed. Lawlor, 35, last fought in 2016, a razor-close unanimous decision loss to Corey Anderson. While he was away, Lawlor took up independent pro wrestling and has become a star in that medium.
In a battle of UFC veterans, Gleison Tibau bested Efrain Escudero by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Tibau was able to do damage on the feet, though Escudero had his moments in the standup in what was a back-and-forth fight.
Ricky Palacios is likely knocking on the UFC’s door. The Texas native defeated Walel Watson via first-round TKO on Saturday night in his first bout since appearing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series back in August. Palacios (11-1) has won eight in a row with victories over former UFC fighters Chris Avila and Roman Salazar under the Combate Americas banner.
Also on the main card, James Barnes dominated former UFC fighter Albert Morales, eventually finishing with an armbar submission in the third round. Barnes (11-3) has won three in a row and five of his last six.
In the main card opener, Jay Silva defeated Oscar Cota via technical submission (arm triangle choke) in the third round. Cota disputed referee Mike Beltran calling off the bout, angrily arguing that he was not unconscious. Beltran had to physically restrain him.
On the pro prelims, Francisco Estrada defeated Jose Huerta by second-round submission, Fernie Garcia finished Joe Roye by first-round submission and Johnny Cisneros beat Dave Terrel by unanimous decision.