Before the cage door closes at the Forum in Los Angeles, the main and co-main event fighters from “Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen” participated in a media conference call. If you weren’t on the line, you can listen to it here, or read a couple of the quotes below.
In the main event of the evening, Tito Ortiz (18-12-1) takes on Chael Sonnen (28-14-1). In addition, Ralek Gracie (3-0) and Hisaki Kato (7-2) will meet in a middleweight feature fight, while Georgi Karakhanyan (26-6-1) and Emmanuel Sanchez (13-3) battle. Lastly, a fantastic welterweight co-main event pitting Paul Daley (38-14-2) against Brennan Ward (14-4) is also set for the Spike-televised main card.
Limited tickets for the mega-event start at $36 and are on sale at Bellator.com, as well as Ticketmaster.com. The event will be broadcast live and free on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. The “Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen” undercard, streams live on Bellator.com and the Bellator Mobile App beginning at 6:50 p.m. ET / 3:50 p.m. PT.
Q: For Paul Daley…We had a chance to talk before you were schedule to fight Derek Anderson at ‘Bellator 163.’ He made the weight, but the fight didn’t happen. So, what’s going to change this time? Are you going to do anything different in your preparation and what do you expect from Brennan Ward?
Paul Daley: Things didn’t go according to plan at the last event that I was scheduled to compete in. I made the weight, but it was what happened after that was the problem. Those problems have been ironed out and we should have everything back on track and I’m ready to compete in what is going to be the most exciting fight on the card.
Q: For Brennan Ward…Both of you have definitely delivered exciting knockouts in recent performances, so I want to know what your expectation of the fight is and if you think it will be a quick showcase.
Brennan Ward: They don’t just line two guys up like Paul and I for no reason — on a card like this, that is probably the biggest card of the year and one of the biggest Bellator cards of all-time == They’re putting our matchup on there for a reason. They know fireworks are going to go off and they know this fight isn’t going the distance. Paul and I end fights, it’s what we do. Like he said, we’re going to put on the most exciting fight of the night for sure.
Q: I know that clip of you and Tito wrestling in college has been going around, so what do you expect from Tito this time around compared to the Tito you saw back then?
Chael Sonnen: Look, Tito’s a great fighter. He was a hell of a wrestler…I caught him in one position in that match, I’m not hanging my hat on that. I’m pumped to be in there and compete against a Hall of Famer like Tito. I’m going to do everything I can to beat him, but I don’t dismiss how good this guy is.
Q: It’s been a while since we saw you in there with Liam McGeary in that title fight. So, from then to now, what’s changed and what are you going to show us?
Tito Ortiz: I’ve been at work now for three years. I came from the UFC and Bellator gave me a chance to reinvigorate my career and I want to leave on my own terms. I want to leave respectfully. Scott Coker has done an amazing job with the company already and I sat back, thinking about what would be my last fight. All of a sudden, I’m watching Bellator on Spike TV and Chael Sonnen comes screaming out, calling me a coward and saying that he wants to fight me and I swear there has never been a bigger smile on my face. I was already getting ready to fight in November. I wasn’t sure who my opponent was going to be, but I was getting in shape. I’ve been training now for almost four months and this is probably one of the longest camps I’ve had and it’s time to showcase my skills. Chael says he’s fighting because he’s jealous and that’s the wrong way to come into a fight. I’m going in to get redemption and to me Chael is my enemy. This is no game, this is nothing fun, this is what I do for a living. I train and I go out to try and hurt my opponent. I know what I need to do. I need to defend the takedown, I need to watch out for the punches, I need to watch out for the guillotine. I know all of the moves that Chael has done and my job is to go in and destroy him. On January 21, two days before my birthday, I want to get the ‘Fight of the Night.’ I hope Chael’s in great shape because when I’m on top of him, he’s going to shit himself. I’m going to throw my elbows through his face and like I said, this is no joke. This is serious to me because my family’s watching, my kids are watching, and all of my fans are watching. I’ve given so much for this and I’ve sacrificed everything. I sacrificed my Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my New Year’s for this.
Q: Of all the guys you’ve verbally dueled with in your career, how would you size up where Tito stands? How does he compare to other guys that you’ve gone back and forth with verbally?
Chael Sonnen: Man, it’s painful. It was painful just listening to him read through that list of notes. He just rattled off all of his bullets right there in one answer and I think he asked to go to the bathroom during it, which was a little weird. I don’t care, I never thought about Tito Ortiz. I didn’t come to this organization to fight Tito Ortiz. I’ve been chasing Wanderlei Silva around, but Wanderlei is busy until the summer. They called me and asked if I’d fight Tito on January 21 and I didn’t have anything else going on, so I said yes.
Q: Beyond this fight, what are your goals in Bellator?
Chael Sonnen: I want to compete at Bellator. I want to be a champion, get to the top, and compete with all the guys. I want to find a weight class. I’d like to do it at 205-pounds, but I think there’s an opportunity at 185 and now we have some big signings at heavyweight and catchweight too. I just think there’s a lot of opportunity over here. I can tell you as far as training, working hard and being prepared, that’s what I do. I do it every day. I will bring my skills to the fight and if they’re enough I’ll win; If they’re not, I won’t. That’s just the way that this sport is played and I’m just looking forward to competing with these guys.
Q: Coming back to compete in California, with your history with that athletic commission, you’ve already taken an out-of-competition test. How do you look at that process? Were you surprised by the test? Was there an understanding that it was going to be a part of the deal to get you back in California?
Chael Sonnen: I was surprised by it. That’s why the test works. I was not ready to be tested and I didn’t know that I was going to be tested and I haven’t thought about it a whole lot. You have to understand that when you’re a guy with my background that’s just coming off of a suspension, that’s the way it goes. You’re going to have more tests than other guys and that’s just fair.
Q: Finally, can you just size up the marketplace since you left UFC and since they’ve been purchased?
Chael Sonnen: Look, I’m brand new. I only know a few guys at Bellator. I know three people, that’s how new I am. I’ve been to two Bellator shows; one at Mohegan Sun Arena and one in San Jose. Both events were sold out! When I was in San Jose, I was sitting there and down the ramp comes the greatest heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko. Coker signed him and didn’t even say anything to anybody. The place was packed and the ratings were going higher. I wanted to come to Bellator when I saw Ken Shamrock walk the ramp and I thought this is awesome. Connecticut and then California, both sides of the country and both sold out. The household name that Bellator has become is amazing. I used to have to explain to people what UFC and what MMA was. When I tell people I’m with Bellator, they know exactly what it is. When Tito and I met in that college wrestling match, there was 80 people there tops, nobody cared. It was a big sacrifice just to show off in front of 80 people. To show off in front of a sold out arena, a record-breaking show, is fun. We get Paul Daley and Brennan Ward to entertain us before we have to go out and take care of business.
Q: Tito, do you have any comment to Chael’s comments earlier about you reading from a script and all?
Tito Ortiz: This guy knows that he bit off a little more than he can chew. I’ve been through 20 years of competition, won world titles, and stepped into that cage over and over again. The proof is in the pudding. I’m sitting here listening to the tone that Chael has and it sounds like he’s drowning and on January 21, he’s going to be drowning in his own blood.
Chael Sonnen: I told you he was out of bullets! I warned you ahead of time!
Q: Chael, congratulations on Celebrity Apprentice last night…great to see you on the debut there. How difficult is it for you to balance the Celebrity Apprentice, ESPN, your podcast, and training all together?
Chael Sonnen: I hate days off. I hate it more than anything. When I look at my calendar before I go to bed, I hate seeing gaps in there. So as far as training goes, I’m in the gym three hours a day. It’s an hour in the morning, maybe even less, two hours in the afternoon, I’m out the door in three in a half hours tops. So, that leaves me with another 20 hours in the day and I like to fill it. I don’t like to sleep a lot and that’s just the way it goes. I like to stay busy, but nothing interferes with preparation for the competition. I haven’t missed a practice, a run, a workout, a sparring session; I go every day. I go to practice every day no matter what, twice a day. There are parts when I’ll pick up the intensity and work a little harder and then there are parts when I’ll take a break to get a drink of water, but it doesn’t change for me. I’m ready to go, that’s it.
Q: Chael, I know you said that you had a little more of a looser camp, where you’ve trained with a lot of different fighters, especially due to all of the traveling. How has it been, having access to some elite fighters in other parts of the country?
Chael Sonnen: I love working out in other parts of the country and I love going to different gyms. And that’s something new to me, because I didn’t used to travel. I was just locked at home in Portland, Oregon, but we had a hotbed out there, with guys like Randy Couture and Evan Tanner, I could name drop for you and it would really impress. We had a really great system out there, but it dried up and some of those guys retired. Some of them moved away and some of the gyms closed down, so all of these new traveling has been great. I’ve got a lot of rounds in and worked out with Georges St-Pierre and a bunch of hammers out there that you’ve never heard of yet, but you will. I’m getting good work in and I’m learning from these guys. The one thing that I try to do, and I copied Randy Couture on this, is always train with the kids. He would be in high school workout rooms doing some wrestling practice and it was very hard for the next generation to ever get ahead of him because he always trained with that younger generation. So, I spend a lot of time with those kids and I have my own practices on top of that. I’m not positive that I can take Tito down, I’m not positive that I can out-box him; everything has to get better. I have to get stronger, faster, better with more technique and better strategy and it all takes time.
Complete “Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen” Main Card:
Light Heavyweight Main Event: Tito Ortiz (18-12-1) vs. Chael Sonnen (28-14-1)
Welterweight Co-Main Event: Paul Daley (38-14-2) vs. Brennan Ward (14-4)
Middleweight Main Card Bout: Ralek Gracie (3-0) vs. Hisaki Kato (7-2)
Featherweight Main Card Bout: Georgi Karakhanyan (26-6-1) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (13-3)
Lightweight Main Card Bout: Derek Campos (17-6) vs. Derek Anderson (14-2, 1 NC)
Bellator.com-Streamed Preliminary Card:
Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Chinzo Machida (4-2) vs. Jamar Ocampo (2-0)
Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Jack May (8-3) vs. Dave Cryer (11-2)
Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Henry Corrales (12-3) vs. Cody Bollinger (19-6)
Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Casey (9-5-1, 2 NC) vs. Keith Berry (15-13)
Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Guilherme “Bomba” Vasconcelos (8-3) vs. John Mercurio (8-7)
Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Gabriel Green (3-0) vs. Jalin Turner (2-2)
Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Christian Gonzalez (2-0) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (2-0)
Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Jacob Rosales (4-2) vs. Ian Butler (3-2)
Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Johnny Cisneros (9-5) vs. Curtis Millender (9-3)
Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Mike Segura (4-4) vs. Tommy Aaron (2-1)
Bantamweight Preliminary Bout: Rob Gooch (4-3) vs. James Barnes (6-2)
Flyweight Preliminary Bout: Rebecca Ruth (6-2) vs. Colleen Schneider (10-7)