5 biggest takeaways from Triller Fight Club: Belfort’s callout of Jake Paul, Tito Ortiz fight fixing claims

What mattered most at Triller Fight Club at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.? Here are a few post-fight musings …

1. A sigh of relief

I know I wasn't the only one holding my breath when [autotag]Evander Holyfield[/autotag] stepped into the ring with Vitor Belfort. And it wasn't because of anticipation or excitement. It was out of fear something really, really bad was about to happen. That's not to say Holyfield getting cracked upside the head multiple times, nearly knocking himself out by falling through the ropes off a missed punch, and taking a flurry for a TKO stoppage wasn't bad – but it seemed like one of the best-case scenarios in a circumstance that never should've been allowed to happen. I'm not going to sit here and comb over all the questionable behind-the-scenes stuff that went into this fight and event happening. There's a ton of criticism to go around for Triller Fight Club and the Florida State Athletic Commission, and a lot of questions that need answers. But as of right now it's over. The show is behind us, and I'm thankful it didn't end in tragedy. At 58, it was evident even before Holyfield started hitting pads at open workouts that this was going to go poorly for him. It was just a matter of how poorly. The fact Holyfield was able to leave the ring under his own power, conduct post-fight interviews and not spend the night in a hospital is slightly miraculous and should serve as a lesson to never do this again. Holyfield is an absolute legend of the fight game and deserves praise for everything he's accomplished in his career. This should absolutely be the last straw for him, though. I don't care if it's an exhibition against a slightly similarly-aged Mike Tyson, or if someone 10 years older than Holyfield gets dug up. It needs to be over. [listicle id=973563]

2. Tito Ortiz's last dance

Speaking of people it needs to be over for, let's bring [autotag]Tito Ortiz[/autotag] into the conversation. For many people, it was the high point of the evening to see Ortiz get knocked out faster and more brutally than he has in any combat sports competition, courtesy of Anderson Silva. Given his political leanings and general attitude in recent years, a finish like that could be viewed as comeuppance in a way – especially given it happened right in front of Donald Trump. If that's your perspective on the fight, then I'm not going to try to persuade anyone to change their mind. To me, though, it was an indicator that Ortiz should've never come back to fighting, let alone in a boxing format. What I saw out of the former UFC champion was someone who went out there and tried to win, but had precisely zero avenues to do it. Ortiz was never going to win a tactical fight with Silva, so he came out throwing pressure punches and looking to make it a dirty fight from inside. His best hope was for one of those close-up shots to clip Silva and hurt him, but Silva was way too on point on this night and clowned Ortiz until he landed the fight-ending series of punches. At 46 and with an injury history that's too long to recite, this needs to be Ortiz's swan song. If we can briefly separate the person and the fighter for a moment, his combat sports career is worthy of his place in the UFC Hall of Fame and a reputation as one of the founding fathers of MMA. He's squeezed about every last bit of juice out of this fight career as he could, and there's no reason to see more. It's sadly time to prepare ourselves for more, though. Ortiz wasted no time going to social media after the fight and calling out Logan Paul (hard pass on that one), so it's clear he has no intention of making his final image in the fight game one of him laid out face-first on the canvas. [listicle id=973541]

3. Fight fixing claims

I was debating not even including this in the column, but it needs to be said: Silva vs. Ortiz was not fixed. Ortiz did not take a dive. You might read this and think, "Oh Mike, how do you know that for sure? You can't prove he didn't." OK, sure. Anything is within the realm of possibility, especially when you're talking about all the characters involved with this particular event, but let's just look at the facts for a second. First of all, people throw around the term "fixed" with absolutely zero caution or thought about the depth of that accusation. Fixing fights is a legitimate and serious federal crime. Anyone – from a promoter to an athlete to a referee to a judge – caught participating in such a thing would be subject to legal repercussions that could include revocation of license, substantial fines and jail time. Second of all, when we look at this particularly situation, who does fixing this fight benefit, and why would they do it? Like him or hate him, Ortiz is one of the most ferocious and driven competitors out there, and while a lot can be questioned about his morals and integrity, he seems to hold this part of his life in high regard. Even if Ortiz was presented a fat stack of money to lay down for Silva, it's hard to imagine him agreeing to it, especially in front of a personal idol in former President Trump. Third and finally, if that fight was fixed, or Ortiz took a dive, wouldn't there be an easier way to do it? Not sure what the rest of you saw, but that knockout was clean. Ortiz took a solid shot that put him on shaky legs, then Silva followed up with two pinpoint blows that sent Ortiz down in a heap. He was out for a while, too, and if he was looking for the easy way out, that sure as hell wasn't it. We've heard the fixed fight claims before. People have thrown it out there for big MMA fights, as well, and it never gets less disappointing. To see fans and even some prominent media members put that out there with zero evidence is reckless and condescending to the athletes who enter a ring or cage to risk it all. [vertical-gallery id=974510]

4. Anderson Silva adds another post-UFC moment

If you're one of the people who isn't trying to take away from [autotag] Anderson Silva[/autotag] by lobbing unfounded claims around his fight, then there's probably a lot of joy for "The Spider" on this Sunday after fight night. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The way Silva's UFC tenure came to an end was disheartening. Putting all the losses and questionable matchmaking late in his career aside, it was clear he wanted to continue competing while UFC president Dana White essentially forced him into retirement. It was an unsatisfying end for one of the greatest to ever step in the octagon, and it seemed like that might be it for him. To White's credit, he did let Silva out of the final fight of his contract (which he didn't intend to deliver on) so the Brazilian could explore alternative opportunities. What a gift that was for Silva, because he's most certainly making the most of it. People can downplay Silva's win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier this year all they want in hindsight, but there was not an overwhelming amount of support that Silva would get his hand raised in that one going in. He put on a tremendous performance, and in a way that provided a settling feeling if he wanted to make his exit from fighting then. What happened Saturday was simply icing on the cake. As I mentioned above, this fight was a death sentence for Ortiz the moment he signed the contract. Even without the use of his feet, knees or elbows, Silva's striking is light years ahead of Ortiz, and this was the perfect storm to do something spectacular. Silva did just that with his first knockout finish in combat sports since beating Stephan Bonnar in 2012, and what a highlight it was. It would be a great way for him to go out, but as is becoming a common theme in this column, it doesn't seem he has any intentions of walking away. At 46, Silva seems to have a heck of a lot more to offer right now than most of the people around his age trying to pull this off. There's some good fights out there for him where the risk isn't enormous and the payday would be gigantic, so I don't have an issue with him continuing down this path. Sign me up for that Jake Paul fight. That would be good.

5. Is Vitor Belfort vs. Jake Paul realistic?

Don't tell [autotag]Vitor Belfort[/autotag] about my suggestion of Silva vs. Paul, because it's pretty damn clear he wants a matchup with the YouTube sensation-turned-boxer all for himself. Belfort, who showed up to the ring looking like he time traveled from 2013 in terms of physique, predictably rolled through Holyfield for the first-round TKO and promptly got on the mic to call out Paul for a boxing match. Triller Fight Club raised the stakes, too, by offering a $30 million "winner takes all" deal to Paul if he chooses to accept the challenge. It was fun seeing Belfort fired up and calling someone a "little b*tch." We haven't seen this type of emotion out of him in a long time, and there's still something special about Belfort despite nearly 25 years on the scene. If I had to make a guess, though, he's not going to get his wish. Do I think Paul would fight Belfort for $30 million? Absolutely. Do I think a deal can be reached to bring this proposal to life? Negative. Paul fought and defeated Ben Askren under the Triller Fight Club banner in April, but he's since moved on and is locked in to a multi-fight contract with Showtime, which began with his split decision win over Tyron Woodley in August. It's hard to envision a scenario where Showtime and Triller Fight Club co-promote, and that's the only roadblock needed to prevent this from happening. Credit to Belfort for pushing for his biggest possible opportunity (and it's insane that's Jake Paul, but that's a different topic for a different day), but his energy might be better served trying to reschedule that Oscar De La Hoya fight, because that feels far more realistic.