On Monday, former UFC light heavyweight champion and Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell announced on The MMA Hour that he is making a comeback to MMA, the sport he helped make famous in the 2000s. Liddell, who is now 48-years-old and who hasn’t fought since 2010, told host Ariel Helwani that he is in talks with boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions to promote his comeback fight, and he’s targeting a trilogy matchup against arch rival Tito Ortiz, who is looking to make a comeback as well.
According to Liddell, he is now undergoing testing in advance of his return, and if cleared to fight by the California State Athletic Commission, will return in November to fight in either his native California or in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas. Liddell wants Ortiz, but said he would fight anyone, including former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. He also called out Chael Sonnen for a potential fight. Liddell just misses the fight game, and he’s ready to come back after eight years away from the sport.
There has been speculation for a while that Liddell would try to mount a comeback to fighting, and for a while Bellator president Scott Coker was said to be interested in signing him, but ultimately Liddell could be working with De La Hoya. Since being released from his UFC ambassador position after WME-IMG bought the UFC from the Fertitta brothers, Liddell has not had a consistent paycheck. He admitted in the interview that finances are playing a part in his return, and a pay-per-view between Liddell and Ortiz — even in 2018 — seems like a big fight between two guys who helped popularize the sport in the dark ages. The two have fought twice previously, with Liddell winning both fights by knockout, but a trilogy fight has always been on the horizon and now it may finally happen. Even if you don’t think Liddell shouldn’t be fighting again, you have to admit that a third fight between “The Iceman” and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” is a big fight at a time in the sport where stars are few and far between. It’s a big fight that would make Liddell and whoever his opponent is a lot of money.
But at the same time, the reality is Liddell is 48, he’s coming off of a long layoff, and he was brutally knocked out in the last three fights he had and in five of his last six fights. He hasn’t won a fight since 2007, when he beat Wanderlei Silva in an underrated classic. UFC president Dana White made Liddell retire after Rich Franklin knocked him out at UFC 115 in 2010 and he got a nice job with the UFC for a few years, but with that money not coming in now, the reality is Liddell feels like he needs to provide for his family. We should be concerned since we care about Liddell as one of the all-time legends of the sport, and we are, but at the same time, if this is what Liddell wants and he’s cleared to fight by the athletic commission, then there’s no much else we can say. We just have to accept the fact “The Iceman” is coming back to MMA.
I will say this. If Liddell does come back, I just hope it’s against another aging legend. Ortiz would honestly be the ideal opponent, but if that can’t happen, then maybe a rematch with Vitor Belfort works. Just keep him away from a guy like Jones. Not that it would have happened anyways, but just anyone who is younger than 40 should be kept away from Liddell. Considering how many aging stars are still hanging around these days, I don’t think De La Hoya will have much of a problem finding someone for Chuck Liddell. I just hope that he is thoroughly tested by the athletic commission and he is legitimately okay to fight, unlike guys like Dada 5000 and Kimbo Slice who were deemed fit to fight and we all know they weren’t. Chuck Liddell is a legend of the sport, and while we might not support his decision to come back, we have to just accept it. It’s his life and his career and now that he’s confirmed he’s coming back we just have to accept the reality, and make the best of the situation.
Do you think the return of Chuck Liddell is acceptable?