I knew he was going to back out. I knew it the first week we were there. I heard him say something like, ‘I have to be 100 percent if I fight Chuck.’ That just hit me wrong. I called Dana that day and said, ‘It sounds like he’s not going to fight me. What’s going on?’ Dana told me, ‘He signed the bout agreement, so don’t worry about it.’…Then a week-and-a-half later, I was told, ‘He may need to get neck surgery before he fights you.’ This was like 1 1/2 weeks in. I said, ‘What the hell is he doing here then? Why didn’t he get checked before he did this?’ I called Dana again, and again, he said, ‘He signed the bout agreement, so don’t worry.’ And then he did exactly what I thought he was going to do. He was just trying to get on TV, get his Punishment clothing line out there, and then walk away…All I have to say about it is if he’s going to come back to UFC, he owes me a fight. Dana shouldn’t let him handpick his opponent. He should have to fight me…I got nothing to prove. I knocked him out twice, I’ll knock him out again, but I just don’t want him to screw me like that and do the show, get the advertising he wants and then walk away from it and then come back and still get a fight and get paid. If he’s coming back, he should have to fight me. I put up with him for six weeks.
—Chuck Liddell telling MMA Fighting that Tito Ortiz owes him a fight if he returns to the Octagon
That was pretty rotten of Tito if he knew along he couldn’t take the fight. Dana White says the fight is still a possibility once Tito heals up, so win or lose at UFC 115, Chuck’s next opponent could very well be him.
For now though, Chuck has to focus on Rich Franklin though who should give him a much tougher test than Tito would. Not surprisingly, Chuck plans to knock Rich out (kinda miss the days when he actually followed through with that), and says he’s in the best shape he’s been in a long time. Instead of packing the pounds back on after his stint on DWTS, Chuck ate right, stayed in the gym, and kept his weight down. Instead of putting all his attention on getting in shape during training camp like he’s done in the past, he’s been able to focus on improving his game and nailing down his timing. He entered the camp at 224 and is currently weighing in at 216-218.