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If Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz want to fight each other, Scott Coker says he ‘might do it’

Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz posed for a photo-op earlier this month that set MMA Twitter ablaze.

An Instagram picture briefly shook the MMA world earlier this month.

In the photo were Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, face to face, squaring off as if they were promoting a fight. Liddell posted it to his social media accounts with the caption: “Why not?”

Ortiz responded with some trash talk on Twitter and Liddell went back at him even harder. It was just like old times. One of the best rivalries in the history of the sport was renewed.

Quickly, though, it was all dashed. Ortiz apologized for a comment he made about Liddell wanting to fight because he needed the money. It didn’t seem like a trilogy bout between the two now-40-something legends was in the cards.

Let’s say there was interest, though. Would Bellator, Ortiz’s promoter, be interested in putting the fight together?

It’s a possibility, president Scott Coker told MMA Fighting.

“If Tito wanted to do it, would I do it?” Coker said. “I think I might do it. To me, why not? If they all pass their medicals and their physicals. It’s a fight that I would love to see. But I think Tito is retired and we’re talking about hypotheticals that [probably] won’t happen.”

Ortiz, 42, doesn’t seem too interested in the fight, at least right now. He told Submission Radio last week that he needs neck surgery, he believes he’s too old to be fighting and doesn’t really need the money.

“I just don’t plan on fighting,” Ortiz said. “I don’t plan on people trying to force me to fight. I have to get a neck surgery. Why would I even think about fighting? Why would I even think about risking myself physically? I’m too old to be fighting.

“Being in the gym six days a week, six to eight hours a day is not really in my idea of working anymore. That’s behind me now. I think I’ve done what I need to do and yeah, I think I can beat Chuck but I don’t need to do that anymore.”

Liddell, 47, might have a bit more interest in coming back. His longtime trainer John Hackleman didn’t rule it out if the opponent was right. Liddell has been non-committal about it all. What we do know is that Liddell lost his high-paying executive job with the UFC last year in a round of layoffs.

Coker confirmed to MMA Fighting that he met with Liddell recently over lunch in Los Angeles. But the discussion was not about fighting, it was about being a brand ambassador for Bellator and attending fan events.

“I think people love that interaction they have with our athletes when they can get it at the fan fests or the different locations where we have the fans come meet the fighters,” Coker said. “It’s a very special moment, that one-on-one experience is something very unique. I think it builds brand loyalty. Chuck, he’s a guy I grew up watching fight on pay per view. I think he and Tito and Randy Couture basically were the building blocks of the future and the success of the UFC.”

Indeed. Those three set the UFC off toward where it is now, a billion-dollar company. Liddell and Ortiz fought once in 2004 and again in 2006, the latter for the UFC light heavyweight title. Liddell won both times by knockout.

Could a third battle be around the corner? It hasn’t even been broached, Coker said.

“As far as his legendary status, [Liddell has] already done everything he can in the sport,” Coker said. “When we’ve met, he has not talked about fighting. So we’re just talking about a brand ambassadorship at this point.”

Bellator has been welcoming to big-name fighters from the past. Coker likes to call them “legends fights” or “fun fights” — and they typically draw big ratings. A matchup somewhat like that is headlining Bellator NYC on Saturday at Madison Square Garden: Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva.

Sonnen is coming off a loss to Ortiz in January, so Ortiz has only been retired for a few months. Liddell, though, has not fought since 2010 and his last three fights were losses by knockout.

The one thing Coker can say for sure at this point is that the Liddell vs. Ortiz photo-op that set MMA Twitter afire earlier this month was not his idea.

“I promise you,” Coker said with a laugh, “Bellator had no part in that.”

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