Former UFC stars Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz are now scheduled to face each other in the main event of Bellator MMA’s show at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Sonnen, 39, last fought at UFC 167 in a losing effort to Rashad Evans, after which he transitioned into an analyst role for UFC’s TV partner FOX. That contract was terminated in June 2014 when it was revealed that he had failed his third career drug test, two of them in less than a year between October 2013 and June 2014. Sonnen was also suspended from MMA competition for two years as a result of the failures for various performance enhancing drugs.
Sonnen announced last month that he had signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator after putting himself into a rigorous USADA drug testing regiment, with his contract stating that he’d lose his entire purse if he tested positive.
Ortiz, 41, has made a career comeback in Bellator, leaving the UFC in 2012 and debuting in Bellator in 2014. He’s gone 2-1 in his return, losing his last fight to Light Heavyweight champion Liam McGeary, over a year ago.
Ortiz and Sonnen were both enigmas in their time in UFC, with Ortiz establishing himself as a top fighter in the Light Heavyweight division. He earned a near-three year reign with the division title, defeating Wanderlei Silva for the vacant title and defending against, among others, Ken Shamrock before losing it to Randy Couture, though he’d remain a top draw, with his 2006 pay-per-view bouts making him the biggest MMA draw of the year.
Sonnen was known both for his high level of competition at both Light Heavyweight and Middleweight, but is likely more well known for his persona. Sonnen became known as “The Bad Guy” for his trash talk and rhyming insults of his opponents that echoed both Muhammad Ali and a 1980’s pro wrestling villain. This reached it’s peak when he made his final return to the UFC LH division after losing to Middleweight champ Anderson Silva, trash talking champion and No. 1 Pound For Pound fighter Jon Jones heavily and across all channels, only to lose by TKO in the first round.
Sonnen and Ortiz have never fought, but both were pulling publicly to be placed against each other since Sonnen was signed.