Chuck Liddell shook the internet this past summer when a photo of a faceoff between he and his old UFC rival, Tito Ortiz, made the social media rounds. By that point, whispers of a potential Liddell comeback had already spread like wildfire, a topic of discussion that first picked up following the UFC Hall of Famer’s firing from his executive role with the UFC in late 2016. The faceoff photo seemed to restart the rivalry between Liddell and Ortiz anew, as trash talk from Ortiz’s side led to Liddell proclaiming that he would be more than willing to fight Ortiz for a third time.
The grudge match ultimately never came to fruition, but the mere fact that Liddell, at 47 years old, was willing to return to the game after spending seven years in retirement was newsworthy enough, especially when coupled with a previous statement from Liddell’s longtime trainer that “The Iceman” could potentially fight once more if he landed a bout against the right opponent.
So is Liddell actually considering a comeback? On Monday, the former UFC light heavyweight discussed the possibility.
“I don’t think the itch to fight has ever left me, ever,” Liddell said on the 400th episode of The MMA Hour. “I mean, I got paid to do what I love for a living, and I got paid very well to do it. So that’s going to always be there. That’s always going to be like, ‘Man, I wouldn’t mind getting out there again.’ That’ll always be there, and then it’s just that battle of should I? Or, is it the right thing to do? That’s what it all comes down to.”
Liddell (21-8) is one of the most celebrated light heavyweight champions in UFC history. After losing five of his final six bouts, he hung up his gloves in 2010 at age 41 at the behest of UFC president Dana White, who subsequently awarded Liddell the executive role he maintained within the UFC until last year.
Since his parting of ways with the UFC, “The Iceman” has worked on occasion with other organizations such as the Professional Fighters League in a promotional capacity, and he said the topic of a comeback is one that is almost always broached in those instances.
“I have had people that I was doing some promotion stuff with go, ‘You know, we had an idea. We should have, like, a legends fight,’” Liddell said. “It’s always that. That conversation always comes up when we’re talking about doing some promotion for a company, or helping them promote their league. The conversation always leads to, ‘Have you ever thought about doing a legends fight?’ Like, ‘We have this new idea, we’re thinking about a legends fight.’ New idea, yeah, that’s brand new. No, it always comes up.
“But it’s just, in the right situation, if they offered enough money, and my body would hold up to getting in shape, I’m not saying I’d say no.”
One organization, in particular, that makes no secret of specializing in legends fights is Bellator MMA. Over the past few years, Bellator has staged contests with a slew of bygone names, promoting everyone from Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock to Tito Ortiz and Wanderlei Silva.
To that point, Liddell met with Bellator president Scott Coker this past summer, and Coker has actually expressed interest in being in the Liddell business.
But thus far, Liddell said nothing has passed the discussion stages with Bellator.
“I’ve talked to Scott about doing some promotional stuff for him. I’ve talked to him about some other stuff too,” Liddell said.
“I’ve been friends with Scott, I’ve known Scott a long time. But there’s been no offers.”
Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped one of Bellator’s biggest names from thrusting Liddell directly into his crosshairs.
Chael Sonnen, who in June headlined Bellator’s big New York City pay-per-view, has called out Liddell repeatedly over recent months, hoping to lure “The Iceman” out of retirement and into the Bellator cage.
And when it comes to a fight against Sonnen, Liddell is confident how he would fare.
“Talk about if I had to pick an easy big-name fight to come back to,” Liddell said. “If I ease into fighting again, I mean, a warm-up fight, that’s the one you’re talking about.
“I love Chael and I don’t pay much attention to what he says because he’s one of those guys that, he made a name for himself by talking a lot of trash, and he runs his mouth. And he did that because he was a boring fighter. I mean, he was not that exciting, if I’m trying to be nice. But he wasn’t that exciting to watch fight. He was a throwback to a lay-and-pray guy. But, he made a name for himself and he made a great career with it, and you know, it’s that cartoonish trash talk. He’s like a WWE guy. It’s over the top, it’s always funny, he’s always trying to be funny.
“And actually, I know the guy, he’s a nice guy. He’s just all business here. So it’s hard to watch that and get upset about him trash-talking. It’s just weird.”