Liam McGeary vs Tito Ortiz Preview and Analysis – Bellator 142

liam-mcgearyThe main event of Bellator 142: Dynamite is a light-heavyweight title fight between defending champion Liam McGeary and mixed martial arts legend Tito Ortiz. McGeary is looking to make his name off of “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” while this is likely Ortiz’s last shot at championship gold.   Liam McGeary 10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC, -1000 favorite) McGeary is one of the top prospects to come out of England in quite some time. The Englishman has a well-rounded game as he has five knockouts and four submissions on his record. Standing in at 6’ 6’’ tall with an 81” reach, he towers over most opponents. McGeary made an immediate impact when he arrived in Bellator in 2013. After reeling off a few wins, he entered the Bellator Light-Heavyweight Tournament in 2014. The other competitors in the tournament were no match for him, as he easily dispatched three competitors in the first round to earn a title shot, where he would meet reigning champion Emanuel Newton. Newton and McGeary fought five hard rounds that featured lots of back and forth action. However, it was McGeary that was awarded a unanimous decision victory. He now looks to defend his belt for the first time this Saturday night. The 32-year old is primarily a heavy-handed striker that has knockout power from either side. He uses his length well and does a nice job of setting up his thunderous right hand. McGeary’s footwork is not the greatest but that is helped by his length and reach. Kicks are not a huge part of his game, perhaps because he is afraid of his opponent catching his kick and taking him down. The biggest weakness in Liam’s game is by far his takedown defense. To put it bluntly, it is not very good. He will likely be in serious trouble against experience wrestlers that have good conditioning and submission defense. However, McGeary is crafty off his back, often looking for armlocks and triangles. Even when he is unable to secure the submission he is often able to sweep his opponent and end up on top. It should be noted that McGeary’s submission game from his back is rather sloppy, it is almost like he just throws his legs up hoping to catch a submission. His conditioning is decent, but he does get tired in the later rounds.   Tito Ortiz (18-11 MMQ, 2-0 Bellator, +600) Tito Ortiz was, and still is, one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts. The brash and cocky Ortiz had a long run with the UFC from 1997-2012. He was the UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion at one point, a title he successfully defended five times. That was a record that stood until Jon Jones broke it a few years ago. Tito is known as much for his feud with the UFC and Dana White as he is for his fighting. Most observers thought he was on his last legs in 2011, but he managed to resurrect his career by defeating the heavily favored Ryan Bader at UFC 132. After a few more losses Ortiz retired from the sport, only to sign with Bellator MMA a year later. Bellator needed big stars that could attract viewers and Tito fit the bill. His first fight was in 2014 against then Bellator Middleweight Champion Alexander Shlemenko. Ortiz submitted Shlemenko in a matter of minutes, which managed to resurrect his career once again. Tito’s next matchup was last year against former UFC fighter Stephan Bonnar, which he won by split decision. Ortiz holds notable wins over Wanderlei Silva, Ken Shamrock (3x), Forrest Griffin, and Vitor Belfort. During his early fighting days, Ortiz was known for unleashing brutal ground and pound from inside his opponent’s guard. His elbows and punches were nasty; just ask Ken Shamrock. Tito’s striking never evolved to an elite level, but he has a decent right cross and shovel-punch. Since Tito came from a wrestling base, he often looked to drag his opponents to the mat. However, this did not work against fighters with good takedown defense, such as Chuck Liddell. This left Tito stranded on the feet with a superior striker. He is a pretty durable fighter though, so that should be noted. One of the most underrated aspects of Ortiz’s game is his submission arsenal. He has very good chokes, especially a guillotine choke, which just so happens to be the choke that made Ryan Bader tap. One of the hallmarks of Ortiz’s game over the years has been his excellent cardio, but that has started to dissipate as he has gotten older. He now is quite tired by the time the third round comes around.   Thoughts If Tito was five or six years younger I think he could pull this off. McGeary’s takedown defense is pretty bad and I think Tito will be able to get takedowns in the first few rounds. However, that is where wear and tear may come into play. McGeary is younger and has much less miles on him. I think Liam clips Tito somewhere in the second or third round to retain his title.   The Prediction: Liam McGeary defeats Tito Ortiz by technical knockout (round 3)

Written by Mike James

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