Retired (Ultimate Fighting Championship) stalwart Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell would consider returning to the Octagon, but only for a shot at the UFC light heavyweight crown currently held by the division’s supreme kingpin, Jon “Bones” Jones.
“The only thing that would even make me think about it is if they gave me a shot at the title. So, we'll see. For now? Yeah. Jon Jones. I don't wanna come back as a sideshow. It's just one of those things. It's not something I wanna do,” Liddell said.
Save for Tito Ortiz, who has five title defenses, Liddell and Frank Shamrock share the distinction of being the only two fighters in the company’s history to have had the pleasure of successfully defending the 205-pound belt on four separate occasions.
In his heyday, the Californian native was one of the most, if not the most recognizable faces associated with MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the Zuffa-based outfit.
En route to usurping the light heavyweight title from Randy “The Natural” Couture, Liddell had defeated the likes of Kevin Randleman, Vitor Belfort, Renato Sobral, Alistair Overeem and Ortiz.
However, in May of 2007 at UFC 71—defending his title for a fifth time against Quinton Jackson—the once-formidable Iceman would encounter the first of four devastating and cataclysmic losses.
A split decision defeat to Keith Jardine followed thereafter, though he did redeem himself of sorts with a win over Wanderlei Silva, the writing was on the wall—three concussive knockouts at the hands of Rashad Evans, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Rich Franklin all but sent him into retirement.
Liddell’s inability to take a punch in the final stages of his career (something he readily admits to) and his penchant for standing and banging are a few of the reasons which hastened his demise.
You know, it was a hard decision to make, to retire, but it wasn't like I couldn't compete with guys. I can't quite take a punch like I used to and I didn't wanna change my style. I could start wrestling and try to control guys, but then I still got the chance of getting hit hard. It just wasn't the way I wanted to fight. I fought so many years, and I wanted to go out fighting the way I like to fight: exciting and fun.
If the future UFC Hall of Famer is tempted out of retirement for another shot at UFC gold, he’ll have his work cut out, as Jones has destroyed everything in his path—not to mention four former champions in Rua, Jackson, Lyoto Machida and, most recently, “Suga” Rashad at UFC 145.
Whether that fight transpires or not, the 42-year-old Liddell (21-8 MMA, 16-7 UFC) has a lot of respect for the 24-year-old phenom. However, even though Jones (16-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) has never been legitimately defeated, Liddell believes, tough as it may be, it’s a feat that can be achieved.
I'll never say never. Not in this sport. Anybody can lose at any time. If he keeps doing what he does, he's gonna be hard to beat if he keeps doing what he's doing. He follows his game plan. He trains hard. He keeps learning. He's young and he's athletic and a great athlete. He's a great guy. He's gonna be hard to beat, but I'm never gonna say no one's gonna beat him.