Bellator MMA, under the leadership of Scott Coker, will hold its biggest event to date on Saturday night when Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar clash at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, CA. This is a fight that should have happened in the UFC, however, the stars never aligned for a plethora of reasons. Both fighters have been vocal about their disdain towards one another, which has garnered a lot of attention towards the bout. Bonnar is coming out a two-year retirement while Ortiz is fresh off a win over Bellator middleweight champion, Alexander Shlemenko.
Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar are both UFC Hall of Famers. The difference is Ortiz is actually worthy of the accolade. He is a former world champion who drew record numbers at the gate and on pay-per-view. Bonnar’s claim to fame will always be the TUF Finale bout where he helped draw millions of new fans to the sport in a losing effort to Forest Griffin.
Bonnar is a tough, scrappy fighter that is decent at everything but not great at anything, never evolving as a fighter. While Ortiz has evolved slightly throughout the years, his best combative days are behind him and his trademark cardio is a distant memory. Tito has never been the most durable fighter, but he applies his wrestling better than most and has fought a who’s who of competition. Bonnar’s resume isn’t as impressive, never securing a major victory and has always done poorly against wrestlers. Does the name Mark Coleman ring a bell?
The path to victory is simple for both fighters. Ortiz needs to take Bonnar down, prop him up against the fence, and land a barrage of elbow and punches. If he is going to shoot for the takedown early, he needs to secure it often which will make Bonnar cautious when throw kicks. Bonnar needs to avoid the takedown at all costs and mix up his striking while keeping Ortiz guessing. Cardio will also be in the favor of “The American Psycho” and bringing Ortiz into the later rounds could pay huge dividends.
Bonnar’s takedown defense has never been that good and he doesn’t possess the one punch knockout power that normally gives Ortiz trouble. I think the majority of the fight takes place on the ground, which will ultimately earn a unanimous decision for “The People’s Champion” as a refreshed Bellator looks to make some serious noise in the MMA landscape.