Tito Ortiz settled the score with Stephan Bonnar Saturday night, as The Huntington Beach Bad Boy prevailed in the light heavyweight main event of Bellator 131. Ortiz used his superior wrestling skills to score a split-decision win over Bonnar.
Ortiz came up with huge takedowns in the first and second rounds. Two judges saw him winning all three rounds, while one judge saw Bonnar taking two of three frames.
After the bout was over, Ortiz was still fuming at some of the comments Bonnar had made leading into the fight. As Bonnar played the pro wrestling-like heel as the decision was read, lying face-first on the mat, Ortiz doused him with water and flipped him the bird to rub the victory in his rival’s face.
Ortiz and Bonnar have been at odds for quite some time, and everything finally came to a head at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. In the end, it was the 39-year-old Californian who got the last laugh.
This was one of the most anticipated fights in Bellator history for several reasons. Both Ortiz and Bonnar enjoyed a ton of success in UFC, and this happened to be The American Psycho’s first bout outside UFC since 2004.
It also marked the end of Bonnar‘s two-year stint away from the Octagon. He picked Ortiz as his return opponent, and the self-proclaimed People’s Champ intended to make him pay, according to MMAJunkie.com.
“I take it very personally, and I can’t just let it slide by,” Ortiz said. “This guy wants to come out of retirement and fight me? He got his wish. He’s a fake. He’s a phony. The guy’s a joke, and he’s an embarrassment to the sport.”
Ortiz didn’t try to hide his disdain for Bonnar during the build toward their encounter, but Bonnar wasn’t shy about reciprocating either, per MMAJunkie.com.
“I think if I tried to like him, it wouldn’t work out,” Bonnar said. “They’d put us together, (and) everything that came out of his mouth would be like, ‘Agh, blarf. This guy’s an (expletive).'”
Amid the verbal barbs being fired in every direction, Ortiz made sure to reaffirm his commitment to excelling in the cage:
It was extremely difficult to predict how either combatant would fare in this particular fight due to the amount of variables involved. While Bonnar is two years Ortiz’s junior, nobody was quite sure how he would react to being out of the game for two years.
In addition to that, Bonnar entered Bellator 131 nursing a toe injury. He broke his toe just a few weeks prior to the bout but downplayed its significance, according to MMAWeekly.com (h/t Submission Radio):
I broke my toe a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t missed a work out. It just hurts. Tape it up and push through it and that’s how it’s always been. It’s really no problem. … I made it through the worst. Really, after you break the bone—whether it’s a little foot bone, a hand, or toe—those first few weeks after you break it, oh those are the worst. But after those two weeks, it just keeps getting better.
There is no telling how much that toe injury may have impacted Bonnar, but one can only assume that it made facing a difficult opponent that much tougher.
Nobody is going to feel sorry for Bonnar, though, and there is no question that Ortiz has little compassion. He was able to pull off the victory, and the circumstances surrounding it don’t matter much at this point.
Ortiz and Bonnar delivered with a hard-hitting affair Saturday night. Both men figure to be reaching the twilight of their respective careers soon, but their performance at Bellator 131 suggests that they can be key cogs for the company moving forward.
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