It’s been eight years since Chuck Liddell last fought in the UFC, suffering his third straight defeat by way of knockout.
But he apparently wants back in the octagon, so he can take on a familiar foe: Tito Ortiz, whom Liddell first bested at UFC 47 in April 2004 then knocked out at UFC 66 in December 2006 to defend the UFC light heavyweight belt.
Liddell, now 48, heightened rumors of his return with this Instagram post in June featuring Ortiz and the caption, “Why not?”
The 43-year-old Ortiz added fuel to the idea of a trilogy with his response.
— Tito Ortiz (@titoortiz) June 4, 2017
This week, the dream of a rematch between the Hall of Fame light heavyweights took another step closer to reality, with Ortiz’s expressing serious interest in avenging his pair of knockout losses to Liddell.
“I have a lot of interest level,” Ortiz told TMZ Sports. “Actually, on New Year’s, I asked the matchmakers for the UFC if they’d ever want to do a Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz III and he kind of looked at me and laughed and said, ‘Chuck couldn’t pass to fight again. He’s been knocked out, unconscious, five times.’ I guarantee you the doctor won’t give him a license.”
But the former light heavyweight champ, who defended that belt five times from 2000 to 2002, expressed doubts concerning Liddell’s being physically cleared to compete.
“I would like another go at it. I left on a high stool of choking Chael within two-and-a-half minutes,” Ortiz said. “My body’s fine. I know Chuck Liddell’s been knocked out unconscious to the point where they had to give him the smelling salts to make him feel better but he’s looking to be a paycheck. I understand it. I have other businesses, and it’s not a hurry for me to fight. I don’t want to fight, I don’t need to fight, but if Chuck needs to, I’ll be a good friend like he was once and give him a payday.”
Liddell’s response? It’s on … so long as Ortiz is serious.
“That would be awesome,” Liddell told TMZ. “I hadn’t seen that. Somebody said something about it but I hadn’t seen it. I’ll believe it when I see it, when he actually signs the contract, and then I’ll believe it again when he actually shows up to the fight. … I’ll take it. However he wants to give it to me, I’ll take it. If he wants to do me a favor, I’ll take it. [But] I have a hard time believing [he’s serious]. He pulled out the last time. It is what it is. If he actually signs to do it, I’ll be happy.”
He doesn’t believe a physical would stand between him and a chance at besting his rival for a third time, over a decade after their last fight.
“If they don’t clear me, I’d be shocked,” Liddell said. “They’ve cleared a lot of people in a lot less shape than I am.
“I’ve already beat him twice. He’s probably hoping that I’ve really declined and he’s able to take advantage of that, that’s what he’s hoping for. If he actually shows up, it’s gonna be bad news for him.”