The big question coming into Saturday night’s Golden Boy MMA event was simple: Did Chuck Liddell still have enough of his former abilities to take out Tito Ortiz for a third time? The answer: no. No he did not.
“The Iceman” looked slow and stiff as he hobbled around the cage missing Ortiz with the few punches he threw. After feeling Liddell out for the majority of the first round, Tito pounced in the last minute and dropped Chuck with ease, ending the fight and Liddell’s dreams of a comeback run.
One would hope, at least. At the post-fight press conference, Liddell refused to make a decision about retirement.
“I don’t want to think about that right now,” Liddell said when asked if that was it (via MMA Fighting). “I mean, I’m not in the right state of mind to really talk about whether or not I’m done or not. But I felt good out there and I had fun, so we’ll see.”
“I feel great right now,” he added later. “I mean, I’m fine. I don’t feel bad. I don’t think it was a bad knockout. I was able to answer all of the questions in the corner right away when they came up and asked me, ‘Where do you live? Where are we?’ All of the questions, I was able to answer them all right away, so I’m fine.”
Leading up to the fight with Ortiz, Liddell presented the match as a warm up for bigger and better fights involving other aging legends like Quinton Jackson, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, and Vitor Belfort. It seems doubtful that those will come together now, but the sad reality is that probably has more to do with how Liddell-Ortiz 3 did pay-per-view wise than how Chuck looked in the cage.
”It’ll be interesting to see what the pay-per-view numbers are, so we can see how well we actually did with this event,” Liddell remarked. “But I’m hoping they come out good and they make another step for fighters to get paid better.”
Liddell was at least critical of his performance, calling it a mistake not to push a ‘faster pace.’
”I wish I’d done a few things different, obviously, but it happens,” he said. “I was kinda gonna slow play him, just make sure he didn’t get any confidence, get a cheap takedown, but I should’ve fought the way I normally do. I don’t care if you take me down, I’ll get back up. And I should’ve came at him with a fast pace. I was kinda back and forth between hanging back and moving fast. I went with the hang back, kinda get it going and figure out what he’s doing, and I should’ve gone after him fast.”
“But then again, would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. Would it have changed the outcome? Who knows, so whatever.”
One thing is for sure: Liddell plans on staying in the gym after this, if only to help train other fighters.
”I will definitely be in a training camp again,” he said. “I don’t know if it’ll be for me or for someone else, but I miss being in the gym and getting ready for a fight, or getting someone else ready for a fight. So I will now be more involved in training guys — at least training guys if not fighting, but for sure training guys.”
For now, let’s treat what happened as a bad dream and instead remember Prime Chuck from 15 years ago.