UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell is talking like he’s about to make a comeback in the Bellator cage. But if he does, it won’t be as simple as just signing a fight deal.
“I’d have to talk to Viacom about it,” Bellator President Scott Coker told MMAjunkie, referring to the promotion’s corporate parent. “He’d have to go through a battery of tests, and it would be a longer process than he would be fighting in January.”
Liddell (21-8 MMA, 16-6 UFC) recently welcomed a matchup with three-time UFC title challenger and Bellator star Chael Sonnen (30-14-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), prompting more speculation about ending his retirement seven years after a trio of knockout losses ended his UFC career.
But Coker said he hasn’t even spoken to Liddell about fighting as of late. Instead, he’s interested in having the ex-champ work with Bellator behind the scenes, as he was when rumors of a comeback first surfaced.
“I’ve got to reach out and see if (Liddell would) like to do some fan fest stuff for us and be in the community, but that’s it,” Coker said. “There’s no fight for him.”
Asked whether he’s completely ruled out the idea of a Liddell return, Coker said, “We really haven’t even had that conversation.”
Whatever agreement Liddell and Sonnen might have worked out on their own, it sounds like Coker will need convincing – and for good reason. Liddell’s most recent losses demonstrated a decreased capacity for taking punches to the head, a stark reversal from his earlier career when his chin was a huge advantage.
UFC President Dana White expressed concerns for Liddell’s health and declared his career was over after a knockout loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 97. But Liddell convinced White to let him make one more octagon walk, signing on to fight ex-champ Rich Franklin at UFC 115. After a spirited exchange late in the first round, Franklin caught Liddell with a right to the jaw and sent him flopping to the canvas.
Recently on social media, Liddell has shown off an improved physique to indicate he’s close to fight shape. But he wouldn’t just have to convince Coker he’s able to fight. He would need to submit medical paperwork to prove he’s healthy enough to do it professionally.
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