I was very excited when this DVD was announced. I'm a long time pro-wrestling fan, and something the WWE has been very good with in the past are concept DVDs that are based on themes, rivalries, or biographies. So to see the UFC finally jump into this game where they can get their history out there for new fans to see.
The very first thing I noticed watching this fight is that I am very happy that Chuck Liddell has stopped fighting. His speech has noticeably slurred, even for a guy who has that sort of gravely voice. The other thing that is evident is that despite all the hoopla about their entire feud, Dana White is right that Tito Ortiz just could not beat Chuck Liddell. It was a terrible match up for Tito. Chuck was long and rangy, could kick box and couldn't be taken down. Ortiz feasted on competition that couldn't strike with the precision and technique Chuck had, and if they did the didn't have his takedown defense. Tito didn't have the hands or technique to keep up with Liddell in their primes.
The DVD starts with the two of them talking about coming up. Tito's story is the most interesting, as you takes you to his old neighborhood when he was growing up and talked about his once successful father got hooked on heroin and led the family into decline. He talked about his gang, F Troop, and their fights with a rival gang. He talks about watching a friend get shot dead next too him. Its here we sort of begin to see Tito the striver . . . why he continues to refer to himself as a business man, why he's so obsessed with taking care of his family, and why he made some of the decisions he made. I think Ortiz's background drove his decision making throughout his career. He's not the most articulate guy, and that is why he made some of the decisions.
They show their rise and how they implemented their skill-set, and did some background on their training together. We meet Chuck's fiance Heidi and Tito takes us on his boat where we discover that he has a passion for fishing.
The meat of the DVD is what happened after Chuck Liddell beat Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz defeated Ken Shamrock. Dana clearly still holds a grudge about what happened with Ortiz and why he held out for a year. White naturally sides with Liddell, saying he was a fighter through and through and would do whatever was asked. Tito maintains that he felt an Ortiz vs. Liddell title fight should make millions and he felt that would not happen. White says that's bullshit, and compares it to athletes in other sports - they didn't make the same amount in the 60s and they did in the 90s. But he said Tito would have made a ton of money off this fight, make than any other fight in his career.
My thought is that Tito was ducking Chuck, but I partially by his reasoning. If you know you are going to lose to a guy, you want to get as much out of it money-wise as you can. And maybe Tito would not have lost that first fight? Randy Couture exposed Chuck's take down defense pretty badly, and one wonders if Tito hadn't caught Chuck then he might have been able to do the same thing? Like GSP vs. Hughes, if Tito was ever going to win it would be the first fight. But again, we see that neither Dana or Chuck ever really understood what made Tito tick. At one point near the end of the documentary, White lambastes Ortiz for claiming he built the brand and instead argues he did more to hurt it. Instead he frames Liddell as the ultimate company man who deserves the accolades of building the brand.
The problem is that I find both guys are right. Tito, more than any other fighter that I can think of, insisted on putting his personal goals and desires ahead of the company. But as we saw at the beginning of the disc, Tito has seemingly been running from his past his whole life. There is more going on with him, a drive to not only be a great fighter but to truly set himself and his family up for life, and he wants to do it on his own terms. That has helped and hurt him. But when you understand that, you begin to understand why Tito made the decisions he did - and why someone like Dana White or Chuck Liddell can never understand. But as to why Tito held out . . . I just have a hard time understanding how Tito "the businessman" didn't understand the kind of money that fight would have made then.
I found Tito much more interesting than Chuck, and more compelling in the disc. But Chuck owns Tito, and those losses are on Ortiz's record for good. You do see Tito the complaining, and you get a full understanding of why these two were destined to fight, to hate each other, and why one was made to win and one was made to lose. But you can see what partially fueled much of Chuck's hatred of Tito is that Ortiz held his career and dreams hostage. By refusing to fight him, he essentially put Chuck's title hopes on hold for nearly two years. But I think Dana can come off as a complainer too. He bitches about Tito wanting to get into the t-shirt business or into the movies - but at the end talks about all the things Chuck was able to do like acting and endorsements. Is it because Tito did all of that without him that angers Dana?
Its a fun retrospective that does get into some pretty good depth about about the two (three actually, including Dana) guys and how their feud defined their careers and helped build the UFC into the world power it is today. But I will say this - a lot of things remained unanswered. Its hard to take Dana White seriously sometimes because you know how much animosity he had for Ortiz. You get a picture of Chuck as a basic guy who just wanted to fight, that he would fight for anything or for nothing - an attitude that made him millions but also took a heavy toll on him. Ortiz is a guy so focused on creating a brand for himself, his business, and his family it lead him into questionable professional decisions that hurt him as much as it helped him. Dana even questions exactly how motivated Ortiz was as a fighter - Chuck claims Tito quit in their last fight. Dana had one good quote, though: "Tito would step over dollars to pick up pennies," though I am paraphrasing some. Chuck made it too easy for the UFC to make money, while Tito made it too hard.
But the fact remains: Chuck Liddell was built to beat a fighter like Tito Ortiz.
This is a cool DVD that's only $15 at Best Buy so I recommend it.
(DISCLAIMER: This was filmed around and after Ortiz lost to Hamill, so the Ortiz love that Dana has now thanks to his win over Ryan Bader and his stepping in to fight Rashad Evans isn't there. But watching this, you can see what Dana meant by saying Tito is doing things for the business now. The Tito of old would have never done that.)