Sometimes, when your time is up in a sport, you know it. You probably made the right choice to retire when you did, which is why it’s almost never a good idea to second guess yourself.
Well, now we’re beginning to hear some rumblings about the possibility of former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell making a comeback. One of his closest confidants isn’t denying the chances of it happening.
As an article from MMA Fighting explains, Liddell isn’t exactly on the cusp of making this comeback, and he definitely hasn’t had any serious discussions. However, his former trainer, John Hackleman, says there’s a chance it can happen, but that it would have to come with some stipulations. The main one would more or less depend on the opponent, so as to protect Liddell’s legacy, which he would obviously not want to tarnish. Hackleman said he’s not speaking on behalf of Liddell, but if it were up to Hackleman, he would like that assurance, rather than Liddell being thrown to the wolves to face a younger, stronger and faster fighter who will wreck him in under a minute.
Putting all this aside, though, the little amount of footage showing how Liddell looks is pretty impressive, considering the time off he’s had since his last Octagon appearance in 2010. Some video was released by Jay Glazer on his Instagram last month, where he was doing pad work with the 47-year-old. The former champ was landing some vicious elbows, seemingly not losing a step since his fighting days:
Not bad for a guy pushing the half-century mark of his life.
Of course, it’s safe to say that any fighter can get back into a gym and hit some pads. It’s not something terribly foreign to them. It also doesn’t mean they can do it on a full-time basis, where they get back into the seriousness of the fight game and commit their life to the sport after six years of retirement.
For what it’s worth, here’s another picture, this time from Liddell’s own Instagram account, showing the legend still rocking the same muscular, toned frame (albeit, he’s still got his patented pot belly going):
This is how Liddell has always looked, though. It’s pretty impressive for someone to look relatively the same six years after retiring with no full-time training.
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but all these signs don’t really say anything. It’s very much up in the air if Liddell wants to actually come back, or if the training he’s doing is just for fun. Obviously, he’s going to always have the hunger to fight. He’s going to crave the great feeling of a knockout. Yet, this doesn’t mean he can do it at the same level he used to.
Following all of the hoopla, Liddell was approached by TMZ about a week after the initial reports were released, where the only thing he had to say was, “We’ll see,” while reiterating the fact that he’s still retired.
So, even with all the hype around the possibility of it happening, the UFC legend isn’t making the jump just yet. He knows it’s probably a long shot. He’s at an age where it’s hard to find a lot of success. Many fighters have realized that MMA has become a young man’s game, particularly at the highest levels of competition. Liddell has to be aware of this, too.
Personally, I hope Liddell doesn’t comeback. I don’t mean that in a derogatory or disrespectful way, of course, but there are just too many situations where athletes in all kinds of sports make comebacks, only to end up being complete disappointments. Their comeback attempts might not ruin their legacies, but who wants to see a really great guy, who had a great career, put himself in danger like that, again? MMA isn’t basketball or baseball. Those sports don’t involve someone getting punched in the face, choked out, concussed and put to sleep. They are very difficult sports, where athleticism is key, but you’re not really putting your health and well-being on the line, compared to MMA, where anything can happen at any moment.
Liddell is a champion and a legend. Period. He doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone. He’s had so many memorable fights where he knocked out opponents viciously. These are highlights we’ll be seeing for years and years to come. While his career didn’t finish off great — he lost five of his last six fights — those defeats didn’t define his career. What defined his career was when he won the UFC title and defended it four times. What defined his career was knocking opponents out cold. What defined his career was the fact that fans loved watching him. Let’s keep it that way.