Chuck Liddell’s return to mixed martial arts following an eight-year absence went about as one might expect it would.
The 48-year-old “Iceman” looked slow and vulnerable against longtime rival Tito Ortiz in the Golden Boy MMA headliner at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Saturday night, ultimately losing via knockout 4:24 into the opening frame of their bout. It was Liddell’s fourth consecutive KO/TKO defeat dating back to a second-round knockout loss against Rashad Evans at UFC 88 on Sept. 6, 2008.
“I showed up, no excuses,” Liddell said at a post-fight press conference on Saturday (video via MMAjunkie.com). “I was in great shape, ready to go, and he was the better man. So, there it is.”
In his prime, Liddell went 2-0 against Ortiz, winning via second-round knockout at UFC 47 and third-round technical knockout at UFC 66. While the two former friends haven’t seen eye to eye for years, Liddell said he respects “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.”
“I don’t know what to say about [the relationship],” Liddell said. “I respect him. He gets in that ring. Anyone gets in that ring, and they close the door and fights, I respect them. I have respect for him, have respect for the job he did, and he got ready for the fight and came out and fought hard, and he beat me.”
Liddell is now 21-9 over the course of a career that includes wins over the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Renato Sobral, Randy Couture, Jeremy Horn, Alistair Overeem, Vitor Belfort and Kevin Randleman. The ex-UFC light heavyweight king was once the face of the promotion, known for his unique look and knockout power. The sport has changed a lot since the Californian made his pro debut in 1998. His love for fighting, however, has not changed.
“I loved being in there,” Liddell said. “You’ve got to understand, I love fighting. I never did this for money or fame. That’s not why I started. I did this because I love being out there. I was ready to go. I wish I had done a few things different, obviously, but it happens.”
For now, Liddell is uncertain what the future holds. He made $250,000 to fight Ortiz, but it could be difficult to find a suitable opponent for another fight. Liddell isn’t making a commitment one way or the other.
“I don’t want to think about that right now,” Liddell said. “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.”