Eight years ago, shortly after suffering his third consecutive knockout loss, Chuck Liddell hung up his MMA gloves at the request of UFC president Dana White. But now Liddell is officially on the comeback trail, and not surprisingly, White isn’t a fan of the idea.
“I hope he’s coming out of retirement to be partners with (Golden Boy Promotions owner Oscar) De La Hoya and not to fight. I hope he doesn’t fight,” White said Sunday at UFC Liverpool’s post-fight press conference.
Liddell, 48, announced his intentions to come out of retirement earlier this month on The MMA Hour. “The Iceman” is targeting a November trilogy fight against longtime rival Tito Ortiz in either Las Vegas or California under the Golden Boy Promotions banner. Liddell’s longtime head coach John Hackleman recently said that although he doesn’t like Liddell’s comeback plans, he is planning to support Liddell “100 percent.”
White has long opposed a Liddell comeback to MMA. The UFC president gave “The Iceman” a supposed lifetime executive role within the UFC in 2010 upon Liddell’s retirement, however the former light heavyweight champion was laid off from that role in 2016 following the sale of the UFC to entertainment giant WME-IMG. Given that, Liddell expressed little interest in hearing White’s concerns about his potential comeback.
“With all due respect, yeah, leave it alone. Leave me alone,” Liddell said regarding White on The MMA Hour. “You promised something to me for a long time and it’s gone.”
Nonetheless, White reiterated his concerns Sunday in the aftermath of UFC Liverpool. Asked if he believes De La Hoya is simply using Liddell to make a big introductory splash into the MMA side of the fight game, White was blunt.
“I don’t know if De La Hoya’s that smart,” White said. “He isn’t the brightest bulb on the porch. Oscar De La Arum is not that bright, but I don’t know what he’s thinking. Hopefully Chuck’s going to be his business partner and not fight. The last thing I want to do is sh*t on Chuck Liddell, because I love him, but I asked him to retire 10 years ago for a reason.”