Bellator 170 Breakdown: Tito Ortiz vs Chael Sonnen

Tito OrtizJay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests in MMA. In the latest installment, we look at the main event of Bellator 170 as Chael Sonnen returns to MMA to face Tito Ortiz in the final bout of Ortiz’s illustrious career.   Tito Ortiz (Record: 18-12 , +175  Underdog) The legendary UFC Light Heavyweight fighter made the move over to Bellator in 2015. In his time in Bellator, he’s fought to a 2-1 record including a very good win over Alexander Shelemenko. In his last outing, Ortiz challenged for Bellator’s light heavyweight title but was submitted by then champion Liam McGeary near the end of the first round. Ortiz was one of the first all-around fighters to make a splash in MMA. He’s got decent power in his hands and combines that well an underrated wrestling game. At one point, he was an ADCC bronze medalist in submission grappling which says a lot about his capabilities in grappling exchanges. This is “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s” final fight before retirement so there’s nothing that should hold him back in this fight. Ortiz does not have the explosion that he had earlier in his career, but if he’s able to get top position, he’s still a very capable grappler and someone who has the ability to control an opponent and secure submissions.   Chael Sonnen (Record: 29-14, – 190 Favorite) The longtime UFC middleweight was perhaps Anderson Silva’s chief rival during the Brazilian’s long reign as the promotion’s middleweight champion. Sonnen was less than a round away from becoming a world champion when he was stunned by Silva with a fifth round triangle choke. This is Sonnen’s first MMA bout since a 2013 loss to Rashad Evans. Chael Sonnen is a one dimensional MMA fighter, but has shown over his career that he can have significant success. His ability in the cage begins and ends with wrestling. He’s a decorated amateur wrestler having earned All-American honors twice during his collegiate career at the University of Oregon. Sonnen has an excellent double leg and has historically powered through his takedowns and outworked his opponents on the ground. That is Sonnen’s bread and butter. The majority of Sonnen’s wins have come via grinding decision, but he does have some noteworthy wins by submission as well including his most recent victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.  I’d be remiss to point out that Sonnen had fought with a TRT exemption and during the time he was taking TRT he had the majority of his success. Sonnen has fought in over 30 years so the potential for ring rust is very high in his Bellator debut.   Matchup A strange, yet interesting main event headlines Bellator 170 in Los Angeles, California as former UFC fighters Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen top the card. Both fighters have had significant success in the past, but are at the end of their careers and coming off significant layoffs. Ortiz has fought at light heavyweight his entire career and is used to fighting opponents who are bigger than he is. Meanwhile, Sonnen made his name at middleweight so this will be an interesting test for him. Given both of these fighters success in the grappling exchanges, I don’t see this fight being a striking affair. If anything, I expect Sonnen to force it to the ground if need be. Sonnen is the better wrestler overall, but I wonder just how much success he’ll have against a fighter who will be bigger on fight day. Will Ortiz’s strength limit Sonnen’s ability to secure takedowns? I think that’s a possibility, but if not Sonnen should see lengthy portions of this fight in top control. If Ortiz gets top control, I think Sonnen will be in real trouble as Ortiz will unload ground and pound looking for a finish. Sonnen has quit in fights previously if the outcome looked bleak. Given the long layoffs, aging of the fighters, and their recent fight results, it’s difficult to have a strong opinion on this fight. With that said, I believe Ortiz is being a bit overlooked in this fight as a more well-rounded fighter. If his price rises to over +200, then I’ll be looking for a dog play, if not I’ll be sitting this one out.

Written by Jay Primetown

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