Who carried the UFC, Chuck or Tito?

source: mma.sbnation.com

UFC President Dana White says the most important fighter in UFC history, the man who carried MMA during its unsteady days, is Chuck Liddell.

"I would have to say Chuck Liddell." said White on Fox Sports Radio. "Chuck Liddell was the guy who really carried this thing on his back for the early years when we were getting this thing off the ground. We had some guys who were big stars but Chuck was really the man. Chuck was the guy with that look and everything else. When people saw him you knew that was the Ultimate Fighting guy."

SBNation's Jonathan Snowden has a different opinion.

With due respect to White, I think he's forgetting someone pretty important to the UFC's rise. Walking hand in hand with Liddell, creating the sport's fanbase with his own force of will, has been the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz. Every step of the way, Ortiz has been side by side with Liddell, in most cases beating him at the box office, and on television. He's Liddell's equal everywhere, basically, except inside the cage.

Before Liddell was a star of any significance, Ortiz was already the UFC's poster boy. He and Ken Shamrock gave Lorenzo Fertitta hope during a desperate time, drawing 150,000 buys on pay per view at UFC 40. No one else had come close to that number in Zuffa's six events to that point. It reaffirmed the new sports promise as a spectator spectacle.

While Ortiz played hardball in negotiations with his former manager White, Liddell moved up to the main event. But "the Iceman" didn't have the same cachet with the fans. Against Randy Couture at UFC 43, Liddell managed just 49,000 buys. When Ortiz returned at the next event to try his hand at beating the aged wrestler, the two almost doubled that with 95,000 buys.

Everything Chuck could do, Tito could do better. His own coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter set records on Spike TV that lasted 10 seasons. At UFC 57 Liddell drew 400,000 buys. Tito did him 25,000 better at UFC 59. Even Ortiz's television cameos were bigger and better- while Liddell had an awkward turn on Entourage, Ortiz starred on the network smash Celebrity Apprentice in front of 11 million people every week.

The two made the most magic, however, together. Former training partners and clients of White, their feud simmered for years. When they met in the cage for the second time, they became the first UFC fighters to draw more than a million buys on pay-per-view.

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tags: UFC   Chuck Liddell (detail)  Tito Ortiz (detail)  Dana White   


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Recent Comments »

bearnakedchoke site profile image  

8/26/11 12:49 AM by bearnakedchoke

Both back in the dark day, but more Tito, and really the breakout has to go to Forest Griffen vs Stephan Bonnars fight in the Tuf finally.

ironbear site profile image  

8/25/11 10:53 PM by ironbear

I always tell my sales guys that the numbers dont lie. Who had the most pay per buys and most people at the arena combined?

Dean of Lean site profile image  

8/25/11 9:25 PM by Dean of Lean

Always seemed like when Liddell beat Tito it was kinda like Tito passing the torch.Then Anderson beat Franklin, Rampage Beat Liddell and GSP Beat Hughes and the UFC was Anderson/GSP's

decu68 site profile image  

8/25/11 6:27 PM by decu68

I am going to have to say Tito Ortiz hands down. When I started to tune in Tito was on top of this game, he was the poster child. His cage antics of digging the grave stood out; people remember that stuff.In 2003, who stood out the most on "Cradle 2 the Grave"? The one, the only, the flamboyant Tito Ortiz. Why, because he was the star, the most known. Wasn't Chuck, wasn't Randy it was Tito. Who created the most controversy that has people tune in? Tito. Who talks a lot of smack that also has people tune in to see what he says next? Tito. Who had back to back fights and destroyed Shamrock bringing in record numbers? Tito. Who created so much controversy and was to fight the president Dana White and we all tuned in disappointed it never happened? Tito. Who was one of the best coaches on TUF? Tito. And who did we all cheer for when he choked out Bader? Tito.Love him or hate him he brings in the fans. I give Chuck all his dues; he's earned them HOWEVER Tito I believe has done more for the UFC then most; he's been around a long time and still in our faces. Tito is going to be a "Hall of Famer" but he just isn't ready to give up yet. Go get 'em Tito. Tito is the man.

MuchRespec' site profile image  

8/25/11 2:45 PM by MuchRespec'


relow site profile image  

8/25/11 2:33 PM by relow

Tito and here is why... when Tito was the face of the company nobody knew a thing about the UFC and without Tito there would've been nobody else.After TUF made the UFC explode, all those new fans needed to channel their fandom through someone, which ended up being Chuck since he was a coach in TUF and won the fight against Randy. If it wasn't Chuck, it would've been somebody else, Randy had he won that fight, or whoever the coach would've been.

FrankMirFan site profile image  

8/25/11 2:28 PM by FrankMirFan

 UFC carried both Tito and Chuck which is proven because both are gone and the UFC lives on. Watching fights is in the DNA of humans... Evolution = Survival = Fighting... We all fight everyday whether it is to get out of bed or to excel at our work...It is a fight, it is a struggle and we all are captivated by watching the clash of trained titans. This is why it will be the biggest sport in the world ===> Millions of years of evolution of the fittest.

Wasa-B site profile image  

8/25/11 2:24 PM by Wasa-B


Wasa-B site profile image  

8/25/11 2:24 PM by Wasa-B


JimmersonzGlove site profile image  

8/25/11 2:09 PM by JimmersonzGlove