Long before the likes of Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, as well as Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov had their beefs, the biggest rivalry in all of mixed martial arts (MMA) belonged to Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock.
After heated disputes, the two men finally squared off in the center of the Octagon for the first time back in 2002, headlining UFC 40 in Las Vegas, Nevada. As far as anticipation for a title fight went, this was as big as it got at the time, as Ortiz was sitting on top of the world as the promotion’s Light Heavyweight champion. Shamrock, meanwhile, had won six of nine at that point and was considered one of the best fighters in the world.
Once the opening bell rang, the action got started early, as they didn’t waste any time meeting in the center of the cage. Using his strength advantage, Tito muscled Shamrock up to the cage in the mauy-thai clinch, unloading knees and punches on his opponent. But during one of the exchanges, Shamrock managed to clip Tito, momentarily dropping him.
After shaking off the cobwebs, Ortiz managed to take Shamrock down and proceeded to punish him with his legendary ground-and-pound for the remainder of the round. The second round was much of the same, as Ortiz once again dominated Shamrock on the ground, busting his face up with razor-sharp elbows.
In round three, the fatigue started to set in for Shamrock, who kept eating strikes from the 205-pound champion. After lighting him up on the feet for the first few minutes, Ortiz once again took it to the ground, piling on the punishment. Once round three ended, Ortiz looked fresh, while Shamrock was unable to continue, leading his corner to call the fight.
With the win, Ortiz set a record of five straight title defenses, which was eventually shattered by Jon Jones. Ortiz and Shamrock met again four years later at UFC 61, which saw Tito earn a first round knockout win.