Dana White wanted Chuck Liddell to beat teammate Tito Ortiz so much he asked for his gloves and shorts from their first fight so he could frame them
Former teammates collide at UFC 258 when Kamaru Usman fights Gilbert Burns.
The build-up, though, has been free of any drama and while they are not exactly friends, it’s nothing like when previous teammates have shared the octagon.
Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz springs to mind. The two had one of the most well known feuds in UFC history, having previously been friends and teammates and settled their differences in the octagon in 2004.
UFC president Dana White is usually impartial – but not back then he wasn’t.
In the early 2000s, Ortiz had a then-record setting run as the UFC light-heavyweight champion, but he and White never quite saw eye-to-eye.
The pair were even going to box in 2007, something Ortiz managed to get as part of his contract renewal with UFC, but then he failed to show up for the weigh-in and it was cancelled.
Speaking in a radio interview in 2013, White revealed how deep the hatred ran.
“I’d be a liar if I said no,” he said when asked if he ever wanted to see one of his fighters get beaten.
“‘Of course not, I’m always neutral,” he added sarcastically, before recalling: “You know how many times Tito fought and I wanted to see him get his ass whooped?
“Every time he got beat was absolute fun for me. Tito and I hated each other, man.
“We’re cool, you know. It is what it is now, but back in the day it was real bad. There was a thing where it was like me and Chuck Liddell versus Tito Ortiz – that’s what it was like.”
Ortiz fought Liddell for the first time in April 2004 and was knocked out in the second round. He lost again when they met in December 2006 via knockout in the third round.
They had a trilogy fight in 2018 when both men were way past it, and that time Ortiz got the KO in round one.
However, White admits to cherishing that first beating Ortiz took at the hands of Liddell and admitted he did something he never did previously.
“When Tito and Chuck fought for the first time, I told Chuck ‘I want your shorts and your gloves that you beat the snot out of him in.’
“I put them in a glass case and hung them up in my house! That’s a fact. I hung it up right in my house, every time I walked in the trunks were right there.”
Although Ortiz had a big role to play in blasting UFC and mixed martial arts into the mainstream, Liddell became the face of it in the early to mid noughties and has remained friends with White.
The dislike between White and Ortiz ended when he left the promotion and was inducted into the Hall of Fame prior to this last fight at UFC 148 in 2012.
And at the induction, White spoke about Ortiz’s involvement in the biggest fights of the promotion’s early days such as the bouts against Ken Shamrock, Randy Couture as well as Liddell.
And while Usman and Burns have not engaged in verbal warfare, he will be taking his challenger seriously.
“A lot of people are writing us up like friends and teammates fighting each other,” the welterweight champion said.
“At the end of the day I don’t see this anybody, there’s no friends in there.
“What could be more personal than someone you train with every day saying ‘I see what you have, I want that, I’m going to take that from you?’”