Written by Cameron Gidari
When Chuck Liddell announced in April of this year that he would be taking a break from fighting, no one knew if he would ever be back.
Now, after a stint on Dancing with the Stars and some time to rest and get healthy, Liddell is ready to return.
“I want to get back, I’m ready to fight,” Liddell told MMA DieHards** on Friday. “I’m excited to get back to training.”
“I think I knew I wanted to (come back) for a long time,” Liddell said. “I just wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to recover. ... I think it had a lot to do with I got caught in a fight and got hurt, and didn’t give my head enough time to rest.”
It was Liddell’s persistence and enthusiasm that eventually persuaded UFC President Dana White to bring him back.
“I think it was more me nagging at (White),” Liddell said. “(I) kept talking, saying, ‘I want to fight, I want to fight,’ and he finally gave in.”
Liddell was less enthusiastic when he found out who his opposing coach would be on The Ultimate Fighter 11.
“I wasn’t really happy about the choice of the other coach, but it will probably make some good TV,” Liddell said.
That coach is Tito Ortiz, Liddell’s longtime rival.
“I don’t see a point in fighting him again,” Liddell said. “I’ve knocked him out twice...but with a year layoff, it’s a good fight to come back with.”
Liddell expects Ortiz to begin the trash-talking immediately.
“He’ll come in running his mouth, I’m sure,” Liddell said. “It will probably take me a little bit to get heated, but we’ll see.”
This will not be the first time that Liddell has heard Ortiz take verbal shots him. After all, the two have already faced each other twice, with Liddell winning both by TKO.
“He’s always going to run his mouth about me, he’s been doing it his whole career,” Liddell said. “I think of the dumb stuff he always says. I’m certainly expecting probably (to) have a couple blowouts during that show.”
The time together on the show should only serve to fuel the bad blood between the two. Despite their last fight coming almost three years ago, Liddell says the feelings haven’t changed.
“I still don’t like him, and I’m sure in six weeks he’s going to make me madder at him,” Liddell said.
Liddell was also not impressed with Ortiz’s comeback fight, a split decision loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 106.
“If he shows up in that kind of shape to fight me, I’m going to kick his head in the 10th row,” Liddell said. “He was gassed in the second round. You gas halfway through the second round with me, I’ll put him out.”
Liddell also took exception to Ortiz’s post-fight comments, where he revealed that he was injured in training camp.
“I think people have a hard time with a guy that’s got an excuse for everything,” Liddell said. “Every time something goes wrong, there’s an excuse. It’s annoying. You saw the last fight. That was like a 20-minute excuse. ‘I’m not going to make excuses,’ but then he gives you an excuse for 20 minutes. Someone should have pulled the hook out and pulled that guy off the stage.”
When Ortiz finally steps in the Octagon with him again, Liddell expects that the result will be the same as their last two fights.
“He’s going to have a hard time taking me down, as usual, and if he does take me down, I’ll get back up, and he can’t strike with me,” Liddell said. “He’s afraid to get hit and he knows I hit hard, and it’s going to be easy to hit him.
“It’s going to be ugly,” Liddell said.
For now, Liddell is focusing on putting together his coaching staff for the upcoming show. Longtime trainer John Hackleman will not coach for the entire season, but Liddell expects him to be there about half of the time. Liddell also mentioned Howard Davis and Jake Shields as possible coaches, but nothing is official yet.
When the dust settles from Liddell vs. Ortiz III, the question of when the “Iceman” will retire will undoubtedly be asked again. To that, Liddell’s answer is less certain.
“If my body works, and I can still perform and I can still compete, I want to fight,” Liddell said. “Hopefully a while longer, we’ll see. I have a few more fights in me.”
**Formerly of MMAMadness.com