Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen: Addressing the Rumors of a “Fix”


Saturday night’s Bellator 170 main event saw the last fight of Tito Ortiz’s legendary MMA career end with accusations of foul play.

As it often is in MMA, Saturday’s main event between two former UFC legends Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz failed to live up to the spectacle many had hoped it would be. It took just over two minutes for “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” to end the contest via submission, having looked as though he was in danger of losing the fight prior to his match-winning “rear-naked choke”. Ortiz pocketed around $300,000 dollars for the curtain-closing performance, while Sonnen opened his Bellator career with an ‘L’.

Following the fight, social media was heavy with activity suggesting that the bout was “fixed” and that Sonnen (not literally) “took a dive” to ensure that the fight went Tito’s way.  Sonnen’s efforts in attempting the guillotine backfired as he was promptly reversed by Ortiz, who manoevered himself to mount before taking control and forcing a tap via (an officially declared) rear-naked choke. The foundation of the “fix” accusations appear to stem from Sonnen’s poor submission defense, which was deemed slipshod. Despite allegations of ‘The American Gangster’ looking out of sorts in comparison to previous fights, there are a few factors which can be argued in his defense.

While no one is claiming that Ortiz’s execution in the choke was going to earn him applause Sonnen’s face was turning purple, and was inevitably going to tap at some point. A quick look through the Oregon native’s record will show that he holds only 5 of 29 wins via submission, but 7 of his 13 losses prior to Saturday were via the same method. While known for his wrestling pedigree, this statistic hardly indicates submission-defence mastery in any context.

Chael Sonnen is now 39 years old. This was his first fight in more than three years, and a fight in which we were certain that he did not have the assistance of (TRT) in providing him with that extra physical advantage which he may have had in previous bouts. It was clear to most that Sonnen did not look as strong as Ortiz, who held a clear advantage in athletic capability and held a real physical edge over his opponent.  This extra leverage was the defining factor in the Californian taking the win in his final fight, not Sonnen allowing him to do so.

While some will still maintain their view that the fight was somehow orchestrated to favour Ortiz, it is hard to argue with the fact that both men were well past their prime coming into the fight. The exhibition may have ended disappointingly, but this was a 42 year old in his last competitive fight versus a 39 year old who hadn’t fought since November 2013 with 3 losses in his last 5 matches coming into the bout. The draw of the headlining fight on Saturday was always going to be the nostalgia of watching two popular (but aged fighters) who were over the hill, rather than a technical masterclass between two fighters on top of their game. Considering this, allowances should be given to the quality (or lack of such) exhibited.

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  1. Lets just say Chael Sonnen is a big fan of WWE….I know Chael, I know things. Bellator wanted a “story” Chael was brought in to be the “bad guy”
    Sorry MMA fans, but if you think this is the first time this happened and would NEVER happen in UFC….Look at Rousey, you really think someone could be that dominate yet all of a sudden she can’t even get hit once? Her fights prior to Holm fight was about building a star and a division, once Rousey got opportunities elsewhere UFC informed her that her next 2 fights would be legit….
    UFC and Bellator is not all fake. Only certain matches are. I happen to know which ones are WAY before they even step into the cage.

  2. I don’t know those guys. Like I said not all MMA fights are fixed. But ones like these are…You can’t really deny it. Ortiz clearly taps Sonnen to tell him he was about the choke him out…

  3. Chael was probably telling Tito when he was down in that choke hold… “ok Tito…just hold on…. gotta make this sh/t look real bro………… ok now!” Chael was probably laughing with Tito after the fight was over behind the scenes and talking about wwe’s Goldberg and Brock Lesnar.

  4. “it was more than good enough to turn Sonnen’s face a color generally synonymous with air-restriction”

    Bad writing here. How does someone reporting on MMA not know that a rear naked choke isn’t about restricting breathing, but blood flow to the brain? It’s defined as a “blood choke” as opposed to an “air choke.” How can anyone take this writer seriously when he doesn’t even understand how a rear naked choke works?

  5. Good point. In fact, it has more to do with blood containing CO2 not being able to leave the brain. Nonetheless it has nothing to do with choking or restricting the airway.

  6. IT depends on how you pull it off. RNC can cut off the jugular and also restrict air flow. I’ve studied BJJ and Judo for nearly 13 years. Titos technique was poor too. Fight was def fixed.

  7. because all of the ‘insiders’ who ‘really know what is going on’ post using anonymous profiles on the internet. What a tool.

  8. King of Bob

    “it was more than good enough to turn Sonnen’s face a color generally synonymous with air-restriction”

    This comment was a tongue in cheek reference to Ortiz’s poor technique. I agree it could have been addressed with more clarity. I am also more than accustomed with BJJ fundamentals ;)

    Thanks for your feedback.

  9. King, if you’re such an expert can you explain to me why you think that was a rear naked choke? It was a neck crank at best.

  10. Both dudes looked too old. No conspiracy theory in this one just 2 guys looking for an easy pay day and not fighting for anything worth fighting for

  11. Hey dummy, this IS Chael. The choke was legit, so crawl back to your WWE forum and keep the main attraction’s name out of your egg sucking mouth.

  12. You no talk him like so. I punch you face so hard, so hard Chael. I’m no Tito, I cut you good, no? I put the show for the fans.

  13. Let me grab you by the neck and pin it to my chest. Then I will squeeze on your cervical spine as hard as I can. I bet you tap.
    Anyone saying this was fixed is a moron.


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