The Chael Sonnen-Tito Ortiz bout that headlined Bellator’s show at The Forum in Los Angeles has become marred in allegations of being fixed.
Sonnen and Ortiz’s intense professional rivalry was heavily featured in the build up to the fight, with much emphasis being placed on Sonnen pinning Ortiz in an NCAA wrestling match in less than a minute nearly 20 years prior. Sonnen played his regular and entertaining game of trash talking while Ortiz, never the most charismatic fighter, opted to focus on his retirement, as he had stated that win, lose, or draw; his fight with Sonnen would be his last.
After all the hype and trash talk, the fight Bellator itself billed as the “biggest main event in Bellator history” ended in just over 2 minutes when Ortiz locked in a rear naked choke and submitted Sonnen for a fond farewell as Ortiz’s son placed his father’s gloves in the center of the cage to signify the end.
However, many watching live and later internet commentators smelled a rat and allegations of a fixed fight immediately began to circulate, among other theories. The controversy began just as the fight did, as Sonnen very quickly had Ortiz in prime position for an easy guillotine choke. Some have pointed to a supposed tap by Ortiz on Sonnen as some sort of signal, while others have simply stated that Sonnen was attempting to switch position, but by hook or by crook, Sonnen gave up his controlling position to Ortiz.
Ortiz quickly locked in a rear naked choke, which the two stayed in momentarily before Sonnen tapped out. Ortiz held the choke for a few seconds after referee Big John McCarthy called the fight, requiring McCarthy to separate the two.
Many have speculated that the fight was staged for a better dramatic ending, while those in the anti-fix camp point to Sonnen’s long history of panicking in submissions, as the Ortiz loss was his 9th by way of submission. UFC Commentator and former fighter Dan Hardy has suggested that Sonnen simply didn’t want to be there.
Any way you look at it, it was a storybook ending for the legendary Tito Ortiz.