There’s never been a boxing event quite like this one.
Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been strange at all to see names like Vitor Belfort, Anderson Silva, and Tito Ortiz at the top of a high-profile UFC card. But Saturday’s show is not the UFC. Heck, it’s not even MMA and it’s definitely not 2011.
No, the fourth quarter of the 2021 combat sports calendar is being led off by a Triller Fight Club boxing event featuring the aforementioned trio of MMA legends with all-time heavyweight boxing great Evander Holyfield thrown in for that added gonzo measure. Somehow knowing that Holyfield’s place was originally meant for Oscar De La Hoya only makes tonight’s event—dubbed “Legends 2”—that much stranger.
But unless you believe that we’re living in a simulation, these fights are actually going to happen. We will see Belfort compete in just his second pro boxing bout ever against Holyfield, who turns 59 next month and has not fought since retiring in 2011. We will see a dream matchup between Silva and Ortiz take place in the boxing ring instead of the octagon. We will see Snoop Dogg perform with Marvin Gaye somehow despite the fact that Gaye died in 1984.
Hopefully when it’s all said and done we’ll have winners too, though given how miraculous (an odd choice of adjective perhaps for an event that some would deem unholy) it is that this card came together and stayed together, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if we had a night filled with controversial scorecards, draws, or once-in-a-lifetime fouls resulting in no contests.
Let’s look at the top two fights with an optimist’s lens, shall we?
What: Triller Fight Club: Legends 2
Where: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
When: Saturday, Sept. 11. The two-fight preliminary card begins on MMA Fighting at 6 p.m. ET, followed by a four-fight main card on FITE at 7 p.m. ET.
Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort
To coin a cliche, Evander Holyfield has forgotten more about boxing than Vitor Belfort could ever possibly know. The question is whether what he remembers will be enough to get him through Saturday night unscathed.
Holyfield might not like it, but there are legitimate questions as to whether a boxer who has been through so many wars can safely go eight rounds with a knockout artist nearly 15 years younger than him. There is a wide gulf between Holyfield and Belfort when it comes to technical prowess, but the punching power is probably a lot closer than people think. Holyfield won’t be able to evade Belfort’s haymakers for the whole fight and we’re going to find out just how sturdy a chin pushing 60 can be.
To Belfort’s credit, he’s always been known for his fast hands, so a full camp dedicated solely to boxing should produce positive results and leave us all at least a little bit curious about how Belfort might have fared had he chosen that path instead of MMA. He’ll have to figure out a lot of things on the fly against Holyfield though.
I just can’t look past the age factor here though and the fact that Holyfield has barely had a week to prepare for this fight. His experience and muscle memory will keep him in this fight, but I’m not confident that Belfort isn’t going to sting him a few times. And in a fight that could be light on meaningful exchanges, those bright moments for Belfort will prove to be the difference.
Belfort takes a decision, though probably five rounds to three.
Anderson Silva vs. Tito Ortiz
This fight I do not expect to be as close.
When this bout was booked, many wondered whether it was wise for Tito Ortiz—an outstanding wrestler not exactly revered for his striking—to sign up for a pure boxing match against Anderson Silva, one of MMA’s premiere standup artists. Making the odds even more favorable for Silva is the fact that “The Spider” impressed and entertained in a decision win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. this past June.
Silva is a natural when it comes to striking and in his return to boxing he moved with much of the same fluidity that made him one of the UFC’s most dominant champions for seven years. He’s going to dance around Ortiz, pick him apart, and likely score a knockdown or two. This could be a humbling fight for “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.”
Ortiz will have a size advantage, which can’t be discounted. He weighed in five pounds over the 195-pound limit and will likely have around 20 pounds on Silva when the two actually step into the ring. That said, I believe Ortiz when he says he at least attempted to make it down to the contracted limit and that cut had to take its toll on him. At the very least, focusing on getting down to a reasonable weight likely comprised most of his training camp for this fight so his boxing skills are sure to be lacking.
Unless Ortiz lands a wild one, he’s going to get styled on for eight rounds, assuming it even goes that long. A Silva TKO is a distinct possibility, but I see Ortiz going the distance and losing a lopsided decision.