Tonight Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz will square off in the cage at Bellator 170 in Los Angeles. The two men have been jawing back and forth since the fight was announced last year. Handicappers are having a hard time breaking this fight down due to the lack of activity by both men and when you dig down into the numbers it’s a fairly even fight with a lot of unknown variables.
Sonnen hasn’t competed since 2013 and is only 1-2 in his last three fights at 205 pounds. In his last outing Sonnen got run over by Rashad Evans at UFC 167. “The Bad Guy” lost by TKO in the first round and never really was in the fight. In his biggest fight at light heavyweight Sonnen was also dominated by UFC champ Jon Jones. Sonnen did beat former champion Shogun Rua by submission in what was considered a big upset at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen in August 2013.
Sonnen was suspended by the UFC in 2014 after a failed drug test and went into retirement. Although retired he did stay active competing in grappling tournaments losing to André Galvão and going to a draw against Michael Bisping and Babalu Sobral.
Naturally Sonnen is a middleweight and was one of the top guys in the division from 2009 until he moved up to light heavyweight in 2013 after two losses to Anderson Silva. He’s best known for beating Silva for four and a half rounds before getting caught in a triangle choke late in the fifth round at UFC 117 in 2010. However, there is a cloud around him after he popped for elevated testosterone after the fight. Sonnen holds wins over former middleweight title contenders Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt. He also defeated future champ Michael Bisping by decision at UFC on Fox 2 in 2012.
Ortiz also has a lot of question marks by his name coming into the fight. Ortiz washed out of the UFC in 2012 after going 3-7-1 in his last eleven fights. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” signed with Bellator in 2014 and proceeded to win his first two fights, Stephan Bonnar by split decision and Bellator middleweight champ Alexander Shlemenko by submission. Bonnar hadn’t fought in two years and came in to Bellator as a winnable fight. Shlemenko was fighting at 185 but Bellator got him to come up in weight to give the bigger Ortiz another winnable fight. When he fought Liam McGreary for the title in 2015 his age showed and Ortiz wound up getting submitted late in the first round.
Sonnen is 39 and Ortiz is 41 so both men are really past their prime. Ortiz has stated that this is his last fight while Sonnen has stated that he only has a few more left in him before he retires. Sonnen has gone on record that he is on an “Ass Whipping Tour” and wants to fight big names before he walks away. So when you look at age being a factor Sonnen gets the edge.
Ortiz has had numuerous surgeries in recent years while Sonnen has been out of action and only suffered a few dings here and there in practice or training camp. The health edge also goes to Sonnen.
The two men wrestled in college when Oregon hosted CSU Bakersfield in 1998. Sonnen pinned Ortiz in 44 seconds do I would imagine Sonnen gets the edge in that as well.
The only check you could put beside Ortiz’s name is weight. Ortiz has always fought at 205 pounds. Sonnen only came up in weight after he was ran out of the middleweight division by Anderson Silva. But, you have to consider that Sonnen has had three years off and has had time to get his body acclimated to the light heavyweight division. Normally when a middleweight comes up in weight they cut little weight and have are usually outweighed by twenty pounds or so on fight night. On Wednesday Sonnen told reporters that he had 11 pounds still to cut before the weigh ins so it looks like he will be around the same size as Ortiz, the natural light heavyweight on fight night.
The line has Sonnen at -210 and Ortiz at +175. And when it comes down to it, $210 is a lot to lay on Sonnen at 39 years of age. Had this been five years ago Sonnen would have been the pick. Ortiz is crafty and had Liam McGeary in trouble early in the fight. I think Sonnen wins but the line is too inflated to really have any value.
One thing I do see about this line that I like is the over/under. It is set at 2.5 with the under getting +155. I can see Ortiz gassing out or getting into a bad spot and giving up and the ref stops the fight in the first two rounds. I can’t see this going to decision considering the advanced age of both men. If you wanted to take the over it would cost you -175. The under is easily the play if you want to lay money on the fight.