“Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz Hunting for Bellator Belt

Before Bellator MMA makes its return to St. Louis’ Scottrade Center on November 6, one pitstop will be the SAP Center in San Jose, California. Bellator: Dynamite 1, a co-promoted event with Glory Kickboxing, will be a sort of homecoming for California native, UFC legend and Hall of Fame member, Tito Ortiz. Inducted in July, 2012, Ortiz is looking to write a new chapter in his life.

Although he isn’t the first former member of the UFC roster to make the jump to Bellator, Ortiz could make history by becoming the first mixed martial artist to hold both a UFC and Bellator title.

After successfully submitting Alexander “Storm” Shlemenko by way of a first-round arm-triangle choke in his Bellator debut, Ortiz apparently wanted to start fresh. As Dave Doyle of MMAFighting.com originally wrote: Ortiz said,“UFC, take me off your list..."Take me off your Hall of Fame." While Ortiz may still have the honorary award, it appears that he got what he wanted (at least online.)

What followed next was a split decision victory over fellow UFC veteran and original Ultimate Fighter runner-up, “The American Psycho” fellow Hall of Fame member, Stephan Bonnar. At 18-11-1 Draw 2-0 with BMMA, Ortiz once again finds himself as a headliner with a title shot in his sights. His opponent for Dynamite is set to be Bellator Light Heavyweight belt holder, undefeated Liam McGeary.

McGeary is equally as dangerous with his ground work as he is with his hands. With only one triumph thanks to scorecards, the other nine are comprised of five KO/TKOs and four Subs. On the KO/TKO side, four were within the first round along with three of his tapout Ws being in the first as well. Seven of McGeary’s ten battles have been inside the confines of the Bellator cage.


CON: Time Away a Negative Against Ortiz

The only way I see this fight going the way of McGeary is by the champion catching Ortiz at the wrong place at the wrong time on the feet due to Tito’s ring-rust. His UFC HOF induction was the same morning as his last UFC bout, a July, 2012 loss to Forrest Griffin. Ortiz did not debut for Bellator until May, 2014.

If this contest goes to the canvas, both are likely to get right back up as they both have just four submission wins to their credit. However, if Mark Coleman is the Godfather of Ground ‘N Pound, Ortiz has to be considered a close second, so that’s another possible finish

PRO: Experience an Edge for Ortiz

McGeary made his professional debut in 2010, which is after Ortiz had already retired once and made a comeback to the UFC after his original run lasted from 1997 until 2008 . Again, I refer to comic book legend, Stan Lee: ‘Nuff said!

PRO: Quality of Opponents Made the “Bad Boy” a Bad A**

*All records current as of 9/8/2015, Pro only- via Sherdog.com Please allow for a chance of error.

Combined Record of Opponents (McGeary): 108-89 1, 1

*Wins: 42 KO/TKOs, 38 Submissions, 27 Decisions, “Others”: 1 *Losses: 15 KO/TKOs, 43 Submissions, 31 Decisions, “Others”: 0 *1 Draw, 1 No Contest

Shaun “The Legend” Lomas makes up 50 of those losses alone, 28 of which are via tapout. The only real notable names on McGeary’s list of victims in my opinion are Egidijus Valavicius of K-1 and Rings promotion fame and Emanuel Newton, previously of World Extreme Cagefighting--the defunct sister promotion of the UFC-- the International Fight League, and King of the Cage.

Combined Record of Opponents (Ortiz): 516-197, 15, 2

*Wins: 195 KO/TKOs, 153 Submissions, 164 Decisions, “Others”: 4 *Losses: 77 KO/TKOs, 42 Submissions, 77 Decisions, “Others”: 1 *15 Draws, 2 No Contest

Notable opponents include:

-UFC “Original” Frank Shamrock (first UFC Light Heavyweight champion x4 title defenses, first Strikeforce Middleweight champion, first WEC Light Heavyweight champion, first fighter to hold a UFC, WEC, and Strikeforce title),

-UFC “Original”/ Hall of Fame member Ken Shamrock (first UFC SuperFight champion x2 title defenses, Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals Superfight Winner)

-Wanderlei Silva (first Pride Middleweight champion, 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament winner

-UFC Hall of Fame member Randy Couture (Heavyweight champion x3 times, UFC Light Heavyweight champion x2 times)

-UFC Hall of Fame member Chuck Liddell (UFC Light Heavyweight champion x1 time, four title defenses)

The list continues on and on, but this is just a sample in the interest of saving space. It MUST also be noted that the man Ortiz beat in his Bellator debut, Alexander Shlemenko, was the former Middleweight champion with three successful title defenses and is a two-time Middleweight tournament winner.

PRO/CON: What YOU need to be aware of

Has Tito proven himself?

Yes, but to a degree his past history is irrelevant because we’re living in the present, because many of the men he once fought are retired or the like and with the signing of Ortiz to Bellator, this is a whole different monster with a different set of circumstances and a lot of new faces.

I was simply showing above that I think he’s faced a better caliber of fighter and that through training for all of his bouts (wins and losses) I think Ortiz is not only better, but has an obvious edge in knowledge. His opponents not only have bested him, but are better than most on McGeary’s list with minimal exception.

Without knowing Ortiz , I’m not going to write that I think he’s taking the “I’m a legend. I’ve got this!” approach, I’m just hoping that he doesn’t.

What will it mean for MMA if Tito wins the Bellator Light Heavyweight crown?

Make no mistake, if Ortiz gets his hand raised and the belt place around his waisted it will be a historic moment in MMA, but (and in no way am I saying as a writer that any mixed martial artist is an “easy” win when that’s just what I am, a writer) there are those who feel that the talent level of Bellator is a step down from the UFC.

Even though Ortiz is a legend, some will brush the victory off because of the promotion. Still, in the event an Ortiz triumph does happen, it’s must-see in my opinion--just for the sake of history.

My current MMA fight prediction record is 2-2, and while Tito has fought twice already since 2014, I don’t know how long he’s been training for McGeary.

I still think there is plenty of ring-rust there and can’t go against seven first-round finishes in ten bouts. I have a gut feeling that I have to give this battle to McGeary by KO/TKO (against a veteran such as Ortiz I think this ends in Round 3), but I want to be wrong...

Prediction: (C) Liam McGeary by KO/TKO, Round 3