The internet is blowing up over rumors about Chuck Liddell coming out of retirement. There is rampant speculation that Chuck might head over to Bellator for a comeback fight against Matt Hughes. The Iceman has made no official statement as yet, but videos have been popping up online showing Chuck training all out. In one video, Liddell nearly breaks the hand of his trainer and looks to be in top form.
As for Matt Hughes, maybe he is just bored and wants the ultimate challenge. Hughes fought for years as a 170 welterweight. If this fight goes down, it would be a huge jump up in weight for the Iowa fighter.
Bellator President Scott Coker is open to the idea of bringing in legendary UFC fighters like Liddell and Hughes. Coker said, “at some point, we will talk and just hear each other out and see if there is something that can be done.” Coker was promoting Bellator 179 to the press when he made the comment, which will be in the SSE arena in London England. He then went on to say, “It’s really not even on our radar now.” Coker has a lot on hit plate with the growth of Bellator, upcoming shows and promoting new talent within the organization.
Another issue that might stop Chuck or Matt Hughes from signing with Bellator is their current UFC contracts. The UFC has not been on the greatest terms with Bellator after a long and drawn out legal battle with Rampage Jackson. Bellator did not release Jackson to go fight in the UFC, so why should the UFC release one of their legandary stars, Chuck Liddell and watch Bellator gain more fans?
Liddell, who is 21-8 in MMA with a 16-6 UFC record is apparently still under contract with the UFC and so is Hughes. The UFC would have to release both fighters and might not do so unless there was some form of monetary compensation. When a fighter under contract decides to retire, then their contract remains active, even though the fighter does not. So if Liddell had 2 fights remaining on his UFC contract, then the UFC still holds the rights to him. The same scenario holds true for Matt Hughes, who is 45-9 in MMA, with a 18-7 UFC record.
Chuck has not fought in an MMA event since 2010. Matt Hughes retired just one year later. Chuck got TKOd several times in the last couple years of his career, which prompted his retirement. UFC president Dana White vowed after his last KO to not let Liddell step into a UFC octagon again. Matt Hughes also suffered some serious knockouts the last year of his career.
We can only speculate, but perhaps both Liddell and Hughes are upset about losing their UFC jobs after the new WME-IMG owners enacted extensive cost cutting measures. This probably pissed off Chuck the most, because he made so much money for the UFC. He was the Conor McGregor before Conor. Now he has watched the promotion he helped go mainstream, pay the top fighters like McGregor millions.
Another question is whether the public would buy a comeback PPC fight featuring Chuck and Hughes. A better match-up might be between the recently retired Tito Ortiz and Chuck. The Iceman would probably joke that a fight with Tito would be a warm-up bout, but it would surely draw in millions of fight fans. Would Tito come out of retirement to face Liddell? He probably would if the money is right. Ortiz could make over a million fighting Chuck and more importantly, avenge his previous losses.
As for the top UFC brass, no one has commented publicly about Chuck and Matt potentially coming out of retirement. Dana White probably wouldn’t want to see his friend Chuck take any more punishment and it would be hard to sell the fight on PPV where the big dollars are made. If Chuck wants to come out of retirement, the UFC might let him bolt to Bellator, only because he did so much for the organization and the sport. It would be great to see Chuck stay in retirement and not suffer any more damage to his aging body, but never say never when it comes to The Iceman.