The Iceman Cometh Back: In Defense of Chuck Liddell

Chuck Liddell UFC
Chuck Liddell vs. Vitor Belfort Credit: Marcelo Alonso/

Chuck Liddell announced his intentions to return to action on the MMA Hour this week, under Golden Boy MMA. And he’s looking to fight Tito Ortiz for a third time. This move has come under much scrutiny, but Liddell is deserving of a defense — here it is.

Lest we forget, Chuck Liddell is an MMA legend. The former light-heavyweight champion retired after three consecutive knockout losses and was practically forced into said retirement by UFC head Dana White. Here we are eight years after his original retirement, and Liddell has announced on The MMA Hour that he is returning to the sport under Golden Boy MMA. Not only that, but he’s looking for a third fight against Tito Ortiz. This move has come under much criticism, and many are saying Liddell shouldn’t be licensed or be allowed to fight period.

It’s well known why a horde of folks in the MMA community, fans or otherwise, don’t want to see Chuck fight again. He’s a legend who had some brutal fights to end his career, and many don’t want to see the Iceman knocked out one more time. That, while understandable, doesn’t mean that Chuck shouldn’t be licensed, nor that he shouldn’t be allowed to fight. The reality is that far worse fighters, with more wear and tear and knockout losses have been allowed to fight. Some, even at the highest level. Alistair Overeem has a combined 14 knockouts across MMA and kickboxing. Yet, he’s still allowed to fight, even at the highest level in the UFC.

Now, some might point out that Alistair Overeem can still compete at the highest level, and use that as a reason for him still being allowed to compete. Sure, he can, knockout loss to Francis Ngannou not withstanding. Andrei Arlovski is another example, an aging former champ who has 10 knockout losses, and whose chin has been a question for years. Yet nobody is saying he shouldn’t be allowed to compete, at least not seriously.

Keep in mind, Chuck Liddell isn’t looking to compete at the highest level. He’s looking to compete against a fellow veteran who hasn’t actually had a knockout win in over a decade. Ortiz’s last knockout: 2006, against Ken Shamrock. Speaking of, Shamrock managed to get licensed in his fifties. Liddell clocks in a couple of years younger at 48.

We’ve also reached a point where the exaggeration about Chuck Liddell and his health is extremely over the top. No offense to either fighter, but with the way the people talk about the Iceman, you’d think he’s Gary Goodridge. There’s plenty of talk online from people who claim that the man can barely string together a sentence at this point. Most of which is riddled with grammatical gaffes.

Most importantly, the man is a fighter. It was his living, and it was something he loved to do. If Chuck Liddell can pass the required medical tests, then he should be allowed to compete in California, Las Vegas or where ever he sees fit. So long as he does pass. Regardless of opinions on the matter, if Chuck Liddell can be medically cleared, there’s no reason to hold him out of the sport he loves so much. Not when we’ve given a pass to Gracie vs. Shamrock, Dan Severn, and countless others. So let him fight Tito.

This, on the other hand?