5 Times Former Teammates Faced Off Prior To UFC 258

rankingsAt the top level of MMA, many of the best and most popular athletes find themselves training out of large gyms with access to some of the best coaches available. Given the drive to be the best and the necessity to train with partners of the same size and skill level it is not uncommon […]

rankings

At the top level of MMA, many of the best and most popular athletes find themselves training out of large gyms with access to some of the best coaches available.

Given the drive to be the best and the necessity to train with partners of the same size and skill level it is not uncommon for training partners to eventually find themselves standing across the octagon from one another at some stage of their careers.

This has been one of the major storylines heading into UFC 258 where the Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will take on former training partner and friend Gilbert Burns to defend his title.

These two top-ranking Welterweights were training partners as recently as 2019, however, with Burns putting together a string of high-profile wins in 2020 and Usman continuing to defend his title, a clash between the two was bound to occur.

In this situation, the champion opted to take leave from his regular home of Sanford MMA and seek training under the guidance of the highly respected coach Trevor Whittman.

While the two of these fighters have remained mostly respectful of one another, and a shift in camp has made the process simpler, this has not always been the case for other fighters.

Here are five times that training partners have met inside the UFC octagon.

Jones vs Evans

Jon Jones faces off against teammate Rashad Evans before UFC 145.
Image via UFC.com

In 2011 Jackson Wink MMA was home to two of the top Light-heavyweights in the world in the form of Rashad Evans and Jon Jones. With both these athletes piecing together multiple winning streaks against other well-known opposition title implications were in the works for both fighters, and first, it seemed as though Evans would take a shot at regaining the title he once held. These plans were cut short, however, as injury would strike leaving Evans sidelined and making way for Jones to take a shot at the title against the champion Shogun Rua.

Jones went on to claim the title with a stunning third-round TKO over the champion after dominating the action for the duration of the fight. After claiming the title Jones was adamant at first that he would not fight with his teammate Evans, however, as time went on and after defending his title Jones became open to the idea much to the disappointment of Evans.

Evans chose to leave his longtime home at Jackson Wink MMA vowing never to train with coach Greg Jackson again claiming that he had bought on the situation by allowing Jones to come onboard to their team against his wishes. After leaving, Evans would continue to help found the Blackzilians, a team in Florida that would produce some of the top talents in the organization.

The two faced off in the main event of UFC 145 and Jones was able to dominate Evans receiving a unanimous decision victory to defend his title.

Lawler vs Woodley

Robbie Lawler touches gloves with former teammate Tyron Woodley at UFC 201.
Image via UFC.com

American Top Team in Florida has been at the pinnacle of MMA for the longest time producing many champions and top tier fighters for the UFC. In 2016 the gym was home to the Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler who had just defended his title twice in bouts against Rory McDonald and Carlos Condit. After taking out this opposition a new challenger emerged, this time in the form of his training partner Tyron Woodley.

At this point in his career, Woodley had bounced back from a loss to McDonald with back-to-back wins over Dong Hyun Kim and Kelvin Gastelum to cement himself as the number one contender.

Given the situation with the pair being at the same gym and choosing to remain at the same gym, the coaching staff were split in half and both fighters continued to train under the American Top Team banner for their fight.

When it came to fight night, Woodley was able to claim the welterweight title with a stunning knockout victory over his former training partner in the first round.

Following this loss, Lawler would make the move away from American Top Team to train at Hard Knocks 365 under Henri Hoof, the gym that would eventually become Sanford MMA.

Woodley vs Covington

Colby Covington faces off with former teammate Tyron Woodley ahead of their fight night main event.
Screengrab via UFC (YouTube)

Another pair of teammates from American Top Team, Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington would not only produce one of the best examples of former teammates facing off, but the two would also produce one of the most heated rivalries in the sport. Once Woodley claimed the title by defeating Robbie Lawler, Covington was still an up and comer working his way towards title implications. This did not take long, however, as by the end of 2017 Covington had his sites set on Woodley and an interim title fight in the wings.

In 2018 Covington would go on to claim the interim title by defeating Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 225, however, after the UFC was unable to schedule a bout between the two former training partners, Covington would be stripped of his title without having the chance to challenge Woodley.

In the meantime, while the rivalry heated up Woodley would have mixed results boasting multiple successful title defenses against the likes of Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia, and Darren Till, before being bested by Kamaru Usman.

Covington, however, would return to face Lawler and dominate him setting himself up for that long-awaited title shot against the now champion Kamaru Usman.

While it may have been much later than most expected, following losses for both fighters, Covington to Usman in his title shot, and Woodley to up and coming title contender Gilbert Burns, Woodley and Covington would finally meet in the octagon.

In this fight, Covington did what many had expected and dominated the former champion managing to get a TKO in the fifth round after Woodley suffered a rib injury.

Garbrandt vs Dillashaw

TJ Dillashaw knocks down former teammate Cody Garbrandt.
August 4, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cody Garbrandt falls after being hit by TJ Dillashaw during UFC 227 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Team Alpha Male has produced some of the best Bantamweight fighters that the UFC has ever seen and been home to multiple champions including both TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt.

After losing his title to Dominick Cruz in 2016, TJ Dillashaw had opened an opportunity for his former training partner Cody Garbrandt who at the time was undefeated and a top contender in the division to challenge Cruz for the title. In this matchup, Garbrandt showed incredible striking skill and managed to defeat Cruz by unanimous decision to claim the title.

Following this TJ put together back-to-back victories within 2016 to set himself up for a title shot once again and now it would be to face his former teammate in a heated grudge match that had been in the works since Dillashaw’s departure from the gym.

After six years at Team Alpha Male, Dillawshaw would make the move to Colorado to train with former Alpha Male coach Duane Ludwig as well as training at Team Elevation. This move wasn’t taken lightly by Garbrandt or gym owner Uriah Faber who predicted that with this move a matchup between top prospects would be on the horizon.

The fight did come to fruition in 2017 when the pair faced off as the co-main event of UFC 217. This was a short fight, however, it was action-packed so despite being finished in the second round, the UFC chose to give Garbrandt a rematch to try and claim back the title he had just lost to Dillashaw.

In the rematch, however, the result was the same but the duration was shorter with Dillashaw finding the knockout shot in the first round to defend his title and close out the rivalry between the two former teammates.

Ortiz vs Liddell

Chuck Liddell faces off with Tito Ortiz ahead of their trilogy fight.
Sep 14, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fight promoter Oscar De La Hoya (center) gets in between Chuck Liddell (left) and Tito Ortiz while promoting their upcoming MMA bout at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the most iconic rivalry in the sport, before Title Ortiz and Chuck Liddell met inside the octagon the pair were avid training partners. Being one of the earliest Light-heavyweight champions in the UFC Tito Ortiz was known for his impressive grappling ability that had allowed him to reach the pinnacle of the sport at the time. Ortiz was however training his striking to be on par with the rest of his skills and part of that training was done with up and coming UFC fighter Chuck Liddell.

These two athletes would corner each other in the ring, train together, and ultimately wind up in a fierce rivalry with the UFC title on the line.

After Ortiz had lost the belt to Randy Couture, Liddell had the perfect opportunity to fight for the title and in doing so he claimed the gold and set in motion a grudge match between himself and his former training partner.

In this meeting Liddell emerged victorious winning via KO in the second round, however, the rivalry didn’t end there and the two wound up fighting once again two years later in 2006.

The second matchup went similar to the first with Liddell winning by TKO in round three. While it looked like the rivalry was over this was far from the truth and 12 years later the pair would face off for the third and final time.

In 2018 Golden Boy MMA held the event Liddell vs. Ortiz: War’s End which would see the two veterans fight one another years after their prime. This would be the only time Ortiz would taste victory against Liddell winning by KO in the first round.

This trilogy match would be Liddell’s final MMA fight and Ortiz’s second last, however, Ortiz has not officially hung up the gloves as of yet.

Huntington Beach City Council Look To Issue Vote Of No Confidence Against Tito Ortiz

OrtizThe former UFC Light-Heavyweight champion and current sitting Mayor Pro Tem in Huntington Beach, California, Tito Ortiz has had a vote of no confidence proposed against him by his peers at the council. The UFC alumni was voted into power three months ago and has a since had a run full of criticism leading to […]

Ortiz

The former UFC Light-Heavyweight champion and current sitting Mayor Pro Tem in Huntington Beach, California, Tito Ortiz has had a vote of no confidence proposed against him by his peers at the council.

The UFC alumni was voted into power three months ago and has a since had a run full of criticism leading to this point.

“On December 7th, Council Member Tito Ortiz was selected unanimously by his fellow council members to serve in a leadership role as Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Huntington Beach. Unfortunately, Mr. Ortiz has failed to perform at a level expected for this position and has demonstrated little commitment to serving in the role with honor and dignity. His unprofessional demeanor and poor judgment have raised concerns among residents, local business owners, and his fellow council members. The Huntington Beach community expects local elected officials to take their governing responsibilities seriously and we wholeheartedly agree.”

The document states that they are looking to put through a vote of no confidence and remove Ortiz from his position as Mayor Tem Pro, finding an alternative person to assume the role for the remainder of the year.

Ultimately there has been no verdict on what will happen to Ortiz currently, however, with a group of his peers arguing against him its unlikely he will remain in his position.

Tito Ortiz Reacts To Accusations That He Was Delivering ‘Poisonous’ Food Over Christmas

OrtizFormer UFC light heavyweight titleholder turned local politician, Tito ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Ortiz has reacted to recent claims that he was delivering poisonous food to the less fortunate in his hometown over the holiday season. A member of the Huntington Beach city council, hometown favourite, Ortiz was elected to office during a November […]

Ortiz

Former UFC light heavyweight titleholder turned local politician, Tito ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Ortiz has reacted to recent claims that he was delivering poisonous food to the less fortunate in his hometown over the holiday season.

A member of the Huntington Beach city council, hometown favourite, Ortiz was elected to office during a November election in the Californian city.

The 45-year-old professional mixed martial arts veteran recently took to the streets to deliver food packages to members of the public in Huntington Beach, with a rather unsavoury interaction with a member of the public ultimately requiring police intervention.

A mask-less Ortiz who attended the charity event detailed how a person using a loudspeaker had claimed that he was handing out food which was poisonous during the event.

People are going ‘What’s going on?’ and there’s a guy with a loudspeaker, telling people in Spanish that I’m poisoning them,” Ortiz said on his official social media. “I’m trying to give them poison food. Don’t accept food from me. All my fans know how much I give back during Christmas time and for him to do that is embarrassing.

A UFC Hall of Fame inductee back in 2012 as part of the ‘pioneer wing’, Ortiz who holds a professional mixed martial arts record of 21-12 most recently featured at Combate Americas 51 — headlining in a December 2019 submission win over Alberto El Patron, also known as Alberto Del Rio. 

Ortiz claimed the undisputed UFC light heavyweight championship back at UFC 25 in April 2000 with a unanimous decision win over the dangerous, Wanderlei Silva — before scoring five straight successful title defences.

Riding a three-fight rise, Ortiz holds a rear-naked choke win over former UFC middleweight and light heavyweight title challenger, Chael Sonnen, before rounding out his trilogy with fellow former titleholder, Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell at an Oscar De La Hoya promoted Golden Boy Promotion’s mixed martial arts event back in November of 2018. With his first-round knockout win, Ortiz salvaged his lone victory against the renowned striker over three meetings. 

Tito Ortiz Explains His Anti-Mask, Anti-Vaccine Stance

OrtizTito Ortiz won’t be wearing a mask or taking a vaccine anytime soon. Ortiz is known for being a right-wing conservative as well as a believer in multiple conspiracy theories. Some of those include the COVID-19 virus as well as him being against masks. That doesn’t particularly help when he is now a Huntington Beach […]

Ortiz

Tito Ortiz won’t be wearing a mask or taking a vaccine anytime soon.

Ortiz is known for being a right-wing conservative as well as a believer in multiple conspiracy theories. Some of those include the COVID-19 virus as well as him being against masks.

That doesn’t particularly help when he is now a Huntington Beach City Council member as other members at City Hall have cited concerns over him not wearing a mask during meetings as per city protocol.

When contacted by the Orange County Register for comment, Ortiz responded by stating that masks were the real threat to public health.

“Wearing masks actually drops the oxygen levels required by the U.S. government, making (the) City of HB libel (sic) for dangerously low air intake levels!” Ortiz wrote in a text message.

As one would expect, Ortiz will also not be taking the newly-approved vaccines either.

“I ain’t taking that (coronavirus) vaccine – hell no!” Ortiz said during a rally last week. “Everybody talks about pro-choice and choice of our bodies. Those same people are saying you gotta take a vaccine. To hell with that! Ain’t happening!” 

All in all, this is exactly what one would expect from the former UFC light heavyweight champion.

What do you make of Ortiz’s stance on masks and the vaccine?

Tito Ortiz Demands Vote Recount In California, Dana White Responds

Tito OrtizNewly minted Huntington Beach city councilman and former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz is demanding that California recounts their votes for the federal election. Vote recounts have been a popular topic in the news as of late. While it’s possible some may take place in states where the election ended in a tight race […]

Tito Ortiz

Newly minted Huntington Beach city councilman and former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz is demanding that California recounts their votes for the federal election.

Vote recounts have been a popular topic in the news as of late. While it’s possible some may take place in states where the election ended in a tight race – such as Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada – it’s highly unlikely that will happen in California, where Democratic Candidate Joe Biden won %65 of the vote, leading by more than 4 million ballots.

Nonetheless, that didn’t stop Ortiz, who has long been an outspoken Donald Trump supporter, from sharing a link on his Twitter account to a petition calling for a vote recount in the Golden State.

The poorly written petition states that, “The people of California are no longer going to tolerate our corrupt Government to claim victory for Democrats with 0 Precints counted. The people of California invested heavily their time into Trump rallies in San Diego, Big Bear, Newport Beach, Santa Barbara, Temecula, Rancho Cucamonga, Glendora, Lake Elsinore, Dana Point, Carlsbad. We will not let the Corrupt democrats give away our state !! We the People of California DEMAND a fair count of the state!”

It should be noted that the state was called by the Associated Press, who have no affect on the outcome of the election.

The petition has widely been mocked and criticized by Ortiz’s followers, and even the head of the UFC, Dana White, joined in on the ridicule.

White and Ortiz have had a feud that goes back to the reign the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” had as champion. It appears that even their mutual admiration and respect of Donald Trump couldn’t stop the UFC boss from taking one more jab at Ortiz.

What do you make of the petition that Tito Ortiz shared? Let us know!