Trainer John Hackleman: Potential Chuck Liddell Comeback Would Depend on Opponent

By: Tristen Critchfield
May 2, 2017

If his recent social media presence means anything, Chuck Liddell could be primed to make a return to mixed martial arts.

“The Iceman” fueled the rumor mill when he showed up on Jay Glazer’s Instagram throwing elbows on the focus mitts and also posted a picture on his own account where he looked arguably more fit than he did during his UFC championship heyday. During an appearance on the Anik & Florian Podcast, longtime Liddell trainer John Hackleman addressed the possibility of a comeback by the ex-light heavyweight king.

While Hackleman admitted the final decision wouldn’t be up to him, the price — and opponent — would have to be right.

“Just like when they first wanted him to quit and he wanted to keep fighting, everybody was thinking I was trying to push him to keep fighting, which isn’t true. But like I always said, it’s whatever is in his heart. 3 million bucks? Who is gonna tell someone, ‘No. I’m not gonna allow you to make $3 million, which is more than most people make in three lifetimes.’

“It would all depend upon…this sounds so bad. Seriously, the people who know me know what a terrible mother hen I am when it comes to matching my fighters, but it would depend on the match. It would all depend on the match. I’m not gonna name who I would let him fight — well, it’s not up to me to let him fight or not — but who I would OK and who I wouldn’t.”

Liddell hasn’t competed since falling to Rich Franklin via first-round knockout at UFC 115 on June 12, 2010. While Liddell was one of the sport’s most popular stars during the UFC’s rise to prominence, he ended his promotional tenure with defeats in five of his last six appearances — four via KO or TKO. The 47-year-old was named UFC executive vice president of business development shortly after announcing his retirement but was released from that capacity as part of a series of layoffs by new owners WME-IMG at the end of 2016.

Even if a promotion — Bellator MMA comes to mind — offered Liddell a hefty contract for a novelty bout, Hackleman isn’t sure it would be in the best interest of “The Iceman” to fight again.

“But even $3 million, I don’t think that would be enough to put his life at risk and his legacy at risk,” Hackleman said. “Because his legacy, not only for his own self-esteem but his legacy for his future earnings as well, could be worth a hell of a lot more than $3 million and tarnishing it to a certain degree, that might not be worth it. So it would all depend on the opponent.”

There's just nothing like it when @chuckliddell is ON! These are freakin ELBOWS.... from a ridiculous range!!! How was YOUR Tuesday bc I can promise you it was definitely better than mine!. #IcemanElbows @unbreakableperformance. #mma #elbowsallday #gym #IWishWePlayedCheckersInsteadOfThis

A post shared by Jay Glazer (@jayglazer) on Apr 18, 2017 at 12:38pm PDT

In deep thought

A post shared by Chuck Liddell (@chuckliddell) on Apr 25, 2017 at 9:38pm PDT

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