This Month In MMA History: Chuck Liddell Destroys Tito Ortiz at UFC 66


December marks the month for many a great bout in the history of Mixed Martial Arts. Thanks in part to the UFC’s traditional year-ending show at the end of December, the last month of the year has played a role in the deciding of several UFC title fights. One of these bouts was the culmination of a bitter feud that dragged on for years between UFC Light Heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and former champion Tito Ortiz. It was a defining bout that helped put the UFC into the enviable position that it enjoys to this day.


The back story of this bout is a lengthy one to be sure, as Liddell and ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Ortiz had a history of having trained together at John Hackleman’s The Pit. Apparently, somewhere along the road, the two had some sort of a falling out which ultimately lead to their facing off at UFC 47, on April 2nd, 2004. Ortiz had lost his belt to the legendary Randy Couture, but Liddell finished him off anyway. 


Fans called for a rematch of the two with bad blood between them, but the fight would not come to fruition for over two and a half years. When it finally did at UFC 66 on December 30, 2006, Liddell was enjoying a run as Light Heavyweight champion that featured him knocking out the best fighters in the world with relative ease. Hype was at an all-time high for the year-end festival, and each fighter made no bones about their strategy to dispatch the other man. It was Ortiz’s vaunted wrestling and ground-and-pound against the excellent sprawl and deadly striking of Liddell.


Ortiz tried his best to drag Liddell into deep waters, but many forget that Liddell was a collegiate wrestler. He refused to be taken down and held down, and even though Ortiz scored one, it was apparent his main weapon had been neutralized. With fans going crazy in Las Vegas, Liddell threw his patented unorthodox combinations. He grounded Ortiz and unleashed a barrage of punches to score a third round TKO of one of the most outspoken fighters to ever grace the Octagon in Ortiz. Liddell, although previously popular, was suddenly a superstar. Unfortunately, his reign was short-lived after that fateful night in late 2006 thanks to a prime Rampage Jackson’s defection from Pride to the UFC. 


This great bout put the UFC on sports fans’ radar in a big way. Of course, December has been known to feature many bouts of magnitude. What is your fondest MMA memory from the month of December?


Here’s a video of Liddell’s famed finish of Tito Ortiz:


  • Back when Chuck was a wrecking machine and could take just as much as he could give!
    Fights like this is why Chuck Liddell is one of the most popular fighters in the sports history and helped bring it closer to the light of the mainstream.

    I'm glad Chuck retired due to the circumstances which he was in but my god I wish he still had his granite chin… The Iceman with his prime chin was and still would be a terrible fight for anyone!

    • "Fights like this is why Chuck Liddell is one of the most popular fighters in the sports history and helped bring it closer to the light of the mainstream."

      now you understand why i troll against certain fighters

      • No I don't. Not every fighter has to be a KO sprawl and brawler like Chuck, I said this is what made him so popular, other guys are fan favourites for other reasons.

        • chuck used COUNTER WRESTLING, he is one of the fighters with the least amount of time on the ground.

          he utilized his wrestling skills to destroy his opponents not bore them

      • It's possible to appreciate both Chuck's style as well as that of a guy like GSP or Dominic Cruz. They each bring an amazing skillset to the table.

  • Exciting striking against boring ground and pound at its best!
    Miss seeing Chuck in the octagon.

    • If you find GnP boring but find striking exciting, I think you might prefer boxing to MMA.

      • Never gonna see a display of skills like Andersons in boxing

  • chuck vs wanderlei was nice to watch too