On Saturday, Sept. 19, at Bellator 142: Dynamite, something will happened that hasn’t for what seems like an age: Tito Ortiz will have a title shot. Now there are words you thought you’d never read again.

Yet here we are. Ortiz campaigned hard for the title bout after defeating then-middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko (who was fighting up in weight) by submission and decisioning Stephan Bonnar, and he got it. While there might be one or two more deserving fighters in Bellator’s light heavyweight division, with Rampage Jackson maybe, sort-of back with the UFC (read: in legal limbo), Ortiz is the biggest name out there. And for Bellator, that just happens to be what matters right now.

That’s not to say it’s the wrong move: in fact, giving a name like Ortiz, who is on a winning streak for the first time in nine years, a crack at the belt will once again draw eyeballs to the promotion, and though at 40 he’s the most unlikeliest of contenders, should current champion Liam McGeary win, it’ll be a feather in his cap.

Should Ortiz win, well, check Hades for ice build-up, then assume that it’s anyone’s game in the division.

That said, while Ortiz is a huge underdog, he’s no slouch, and you can expect him to show up in the best shape he has been in for years.

So who has the edge?

Striking

Simply put, Tito Ortiz has not won a fight with strikes since 2006, and that was over an already past-his-prime Ken Shamrock. Nor has he shown anything in his two Bellator fights to suggest that his striking has suddenly returned to form. His win over Shlemenko was pure wrestling and a sub; the Bonnar fight was an ugly striking affair at best.

Liam McGeary is the better technical striker here, and has youth on his side, as well as a power advantage.

Grappling

Grappling is one area where Tito Ortiz arguably has an edge of McGeary, although Ortiz himself recently stated that he doesn’t feel he has the advantage anywhere against the current Bellator champ. Still, Ortiz is known for his wrestling, using takedowns to lead into the ground and pound (with the good ol’ elbows), so we’ll give him the edge here. McGeary is no slouch however.

Submissions

While Ortiz is capable of pulling off a submission or two, McGeary has looked absolutely stellar off his back. He’s a purple belt in jiu-jitsu who uses his size well and is capable of controlling the fight from the bottom. That’s a rare quality in the upper weight classes, and it gives him the edge here.

X-Factors

Youth. Size. Speed. These all lean to McGeary. Experience in big fights? Obviously Ortiz, but does that matter here? At age forty he has one hell of a mountain to climb. Liam McGeary fought an excellent fight to win the title from Emanuel Newton, and if he puts on the same sort of performance here, Ortiz may just be overwhelmed.

He has outright stated that he’s looking to capitalize on any mistakes the champion makes — but will there be any he can take advantage of, or will McGeary control the action?

Prediction

This is McGeary’s fight. A lot of eyeballs will tune in due to the Ortiz name, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s going to shine the spotlight on one of the promotion’s newest stars. McGeary takes this in the first round (and if not, you’ve got another incredible comeback story this year!).

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.