“The pressure is on him to get back into fight shape.”
These were the exact words of Randy Couture, referring to ‘The Iceman,’ when asked about his thoughts on the third and final chapter of the Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz rivalry. The retired mixed martial artist has expressed his concern about Liddell’s fighting form as he has been away from the cage for over eight years now.
Eight years of layoff, eight years without competing and sparring, the issue of rest versus rust will play a huge factor in this exciting affair. But Liddell will not go down without a fight as he is seriously working to regain his vintage form just in time for (what could be) his last hoorah.
— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) September 15, 2018
Ortiz and Liddell came out of retirement to star in the final installment of their celebrated rivalry. The Forum in Inglewood, California will play host to this intriguing match-up that will take place on November 24, with the Golden Boy Promotion serving as its main catalyst.
Their past two encounters have gone in the same direction, with Liddell lording over Ortiz and winning both contests via knockout. Now both in their 40’s and with the former taking a lengthy hiatus, reasserting his mastery over Ortiz will be a tall order for Liddell. Couture, a UFC Hall of Famer and an acquaintance of both fighters, echoed this sentiment in an interview with Luke Thomas last Monday. (Quotes from MMA Fighting)
“I’m not too concerned about the age, honestly. I fought right up until where Chuck’s at right now, at a high level. My only concern with that is that Chuck hasn’t been competing, hasn’t been sparring, hasn’t done anything in the fight realm other than regular strength and conditioning for the last eight years since he retired.”
“So that puts the pressure on him to get back up into fight shape, back up and get the timing back to where we’re used to seeing Chuck have going into a fight. He had that style where that timing was very, very important. It wasn’t that he was the biggest, strongest or best athlete. He had a very unique timing, to find you right on the end of one of those long levers and make it a short night. Now, whether he still has that timing, that’s the question.”
— Today’s #BOXING #MMA (@TodaysBoxingMMA) October 16, 2018
Liddell is aware of the challenge brought up by his decision to return to professional fighting. He knew he needs to be in his best shape coming into the fight as he promised that it will be his last if Ortiz comes out with the win.
“When I started getting back in shape, if I decided to fight I said I was gonna do two or three more after that. This is just a great warm-up fight. There’s not a better tuneup fight than Ortiz. I mean he’s someone I’m better than at everything, so it’s a great tuneup fight for me. If he beats me, I have no business being back in the ring again. If he beats me, I’m done.”
Since early October, ‘The Iceman’ has been putting on a lot of work to scrape off the rust brought by his long layoff. And it looks like all the hard work is paying off as the UFC Hall of Famer is in better shape now. He recently flaunted his ripped body on social media and fans took notice.
Check out Liddell’s eye-popping physical transformation in the photo below:
One Instagram user wrote, “He looks ripped now and before his prime years he was out of shape.” While another commented, “Looking great Chuck, looking forward to seeing you smash Tito.”
A fan, meanwhile, claimed it was his best shape ever, saying “The crazy thing is this is the best Chuck has ever looked for a fight lmao.”
(Featured Image Source: Chuck Liddell/Instagram)