Looking back at Golden Boy Promotions: Liddell vs. Ortiz 3

Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 - Golden Boy PromotionsLiddell vs. Ortiz 3 - Golden Boy Promotions

Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions held its first MMA event at The Forum in Inglewood on Saturday. How was the longtime boxer turned fight promoter’s standalone venture into MMA? In this article, I’ll take a look at the event from a live perspective.

I had two different articles partially written about this event. Both were deleted because I hated the way they turned out. What I wrote will probably be (or has already been) written about by much better writers on sites like MMAFighting.com, MMAJunkie.com, or BloodyElbow.com. Despite my dissatisfaction with my articles I still wanted to write something about this event for this site, so I slapped this together.

Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 was the first time Golden Boy Promotions promoted a mixed martial arts event on their own. When the event and trilogy bout between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell were officially announced, I was interested in seeing how Golden Boy Promotions would do. That, and I was interested in seeing what would happen in the main event between the 48-year-old Chuck Liddell (who was returning to the cage after eight years of retirement) and the 43-year-old Tito Ortiz.

Ten years prior to this, the longtime boxing promotion teamed with the short-lived Affliction Entertainment. The partnership itself is a long story that also involves Donald Trump and Michael Cohen. There are tons of articles online that are better than anything I could ever write on this subject, so I won’t go on about it. Long story short, Affliction Entertainment held two events (both held at the Honda Center in Anaheim) and closed after their third scheduled event (also slated to take place in Anaheim) was cancelled. But on November 24th, 2018, Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions reentered the MMA business with their own event.

Despite claims by De La Hoya that ticket sales were doing well and The Forum being configured to use half its capacity, plenty of seats were still available in the days leading up to the event. Ticket prices for the event were also slashed. At the event itself, numerous empty seats could be seen in the venue. The upper level of The Forum had also been curtained off. The price of the event on pay-per-view was also lowered from $49.99 to $39.99. Needless to say, this wasn’t a good sign as to whether or not there was fan interest in the show.

The marketing of the event was very boxing-like. The majority of the advertising for the show focused heavily on the main event. There was almost no hype or promotion for anyone on the undercard. Outside of proposed lineups submitted to the California State Athletic Commission and reported after being obtained by MMA news outlets, it seemed there was no word on who was fighting outside of the main event. Even the event’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, didn’t know the names of the fighters on his card. Needless to say, this was not a good look for De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions.

The undercard itself was lacking in fighters that casual fans would know about. Some of the more notable names who fought on the card were “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, Gleison Tibau, Efrain Escudero, Ricky Palacios, and Albert Morales. While the undercard had fighters who have competed in several prolific organizations, there weren’t many faces casual fan would recognize.

The event also featured 1-5 fighter Joe Roye, who had been finished in all of his fights. Roye fought on the prelim portion of the card against undefeated prospect Fernie Garcia. Garcia maintained his undefeated record by submitting Roye. Roye would fall to 1-6. I believe that it is a bad look for a promotion if they’re featuring fighters with poor records.

As for the actual fights

There are two ways to look at the fights on Saturday night. On one hand, you could say that the card had some exciting bouts with some highlight reel finishes on it. On the other hand, you could say that that there were some sloppy fights and that the main event was borderline depressing. No matter how you look at it, this was an interesting card overall.

Right now I’m going to take a look at some of the action from the main card portion of the event.

  • Starting off the pay-per-view main card, Jay Silva scored a victory over Oscar Cota in an ugly bout. Cota would be deducted two points in the second round for holding Silva’s gloves and delivering two strikes to the groin. The finish saw some controversy when referee Mike Beltran stopped the bout after it appeared Cota went unconscious as Silva had Cota in an Arm Triangle Choke. Cota tried to protest this, but in the end, Silva was given the win.
  • James Barnes defeated Albert Morales in Morales’ first fight since being released by the UFC earlier this year. While Barnes had a strong and dominant performance here, Morales had Barnes in trouble several times after several Triangle Choke attempts. In the end, it was an Armbar from Barnes that got the win over a resilient Morales.
  • Ricky Palacios extended his winning streak to eight after defeating Walel Watson. Despite Watson going into this bout with a huge height and reach advantage, Palacios was able to score a vicious TKO win in the first round of their bout.

  •  In what might’ve been the best fight on the card, Gleison Tibau scored a decision victory in his first fight since leaving the UFC over Efrain Escudero. With the win, Tibau was able to snap a four-fight losing streak going into this bout.
  • In the co-main event, undefeated prospect Deron Winn maintained his perfect record after scoring a Unanimous Decision victory over “Filthy” Tom Lawlor to climb to 5-0. For Winn, this bout was the biggest test of his career put o this point, and there is no doubt that he passed with flying colors.
As for the main event itself

Going into the bout, there were a lot of questions surrounding Chuck Liddell’s condition and health. This was Liddell’s first fight in eight years after being forced to retire following three straight KO/TKO losses. In the weeks leading up to this fight, video footage of Liddell’s training sessions appeared online. The footage saw Liddell moving slowly. It had some people questioning whether or not he should’ve been fighting again. Others felt the footage was a hoax to trick Tito Ortiz into thinking Liddell wouldn’t be at his best.

Once the fight began, Liddell was moving noticeably slow inside the cage. He kept moving backwards during the bout as Ortiz kept closing distance. At some points, Liddell threw what looked to be labored strike attempts and appeared off balance after throwing them. There was nothing else to really write about here, as it was mostly just Ortiz closing distance on Liddell. Ortiz eventually knocked out Liddell at 4:24 of Round 1, earning his first win over his longtime rival. This wasn’t much of a fight. For longtime fans looking for a nostalgia trip, that might’ve been the only highlight of this bout outside of the finish.

So, what do we make of this?

Golden Boy Promotions’ first attempt at promoting a Mixed Martial Arts event was a real mixed bag. Even though the event featured some sloppy and unpolished competitors, it was still a very fan friendly card. Fans who wanted finishes got to see plenty. People who paid to attend the event also got their money’s worth, as the card featured sixteen total bouts overall. Longtime fans of MMA who wanted to relive the old days got to do so on Saturday night. With that said, the event felt like a regional card with two legends headlining rather than a major show.

While I’d love to see Oscar De La Hoya’s promotion put on more events, they’re going to need to make massive improvements on several things if they want to compete with the UFC, or Bellator for that matter. Things such as marketing their undercard bouts, bringing in more prolific fighters, getting the best unsigned prospects, and booking main events with high-level fighters who will put on great performances instead of bringing in veterans who are way past their prime. While all of this is easier said than done, I think Golden Boy could accomplish this.

Whether or not this will be Golden Boy Promotion’s only MMA event remains to be seen. However, this will go down as a memorable night in MMA history. It will also go down as the event that gave us this wonderful moment. Move over “JUST BLEED” dude, it’s this guy’s time to shine now.

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