When UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell announced his intention to return to mixed martial arts some eight years after three consecutive knockout losses ended his Octagon run, there were plenty of concerns regarding the “Iceman’s” health.
Recent training footage, including last week’s open workouts, did little to quiet those concerns. Tito Ortiz, his opponent in Golden Boy MMA’s main event Saturday night, is not among those who are not worried about Liddell’s health and safety.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion was clear about his intentions when facing Liddell.
“I don’t care about his safety at all. I want to smash him,” Ortiz told Sherdog.com. “I want to hurt him. That’s what he wants to do to me. If he thinks he’s a big enough man, he’s an adult. If he thinks he should fight, he should fight.”
Ortiz was quick to shoot down any talk of reconciliation with his longtime rival and former training partner.
“I don’t care about burying the hatchet,” Ortiz said. “He ain’t my buddy. He ain’t my friend. He showed his true colors. I know what kind of person he is. It is what it is. I’m a loyal person. And I don’t want to second question anybody.”
Additionally, his disdain for Liddell hasn’t waned since the decades-old feud began. In fact, Ortiz intends for those emotions to manifest themselves in the cage.
“When he’s knocked out unconscious, I’m going to try to hit him again. I have no doubt in my mind that I’m going to try to hurt him,” Ortiz said. “That is my goal. I know that’s maybe not the right way to say that but that’s the way I feel. I want to try to kill the guy. That’s how much I dislike him.”
Ortiz has had plenty of his own struggles with health over the years, including a well-documented laundry list of surgeries and ailments that have interrupted his 21-year career. Ortiz is confident that his body is in good shape ahead of this weekend’s contest, however. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” credited his surgeon, Dr. William Smith, for making his 18-week camp as painless as possible. Despite the clean bill of health and a potentially lucrative paycheck, (Ortiz also reconfirmed his 30 percent cut of the gate and pay-per-view sales), this is not the beginning of a new run in MMA.
“I want to make this the last fight so I don’t need any more surgeries...My kids want me to be done and I want to be done,” Ortiz said. “These camps go on forever. Twenty-one years, there’s not one other fighter in this world that’s been fighting for 21 years. I just want to keep my health. My body is still right. I’ve worked really hard to be where I am today and I’m thankful for it. I want to end it all right here on Saturday night with my hand raised.”