UFC president Dana White elaborated on the harsh comments he previously made about his long-time amigo Chuck Liddell. Although he feels that Liddell isn’t completely done, the outspoken promoter simply feels that Liddell has done all that a man can do inside of the Octagon.
Last month, White told the Canadian press that because Liddell has dropped three of his last four, he put the 39-year-old on notice that a sub-par WIN against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 97 wouldn’t be enough.
“I’m not even saying if he wins (because) unless he looks incredibly impressive – I mean, he’s going to have to go out there and dazzle me for me to want Chuck to still fight,” White previously stated.
However, during this week’s UFC 97 press conference, White backpedaled a little bit from his original statement.
“I think early on when I first made that statement publicly, it got blown out of proportion,” White said. “Kind of like most of my public statements.
“He and I sat down before this fight was made and had a long talk,” White added, with Liddell sitting to his right. “Everyone knows my relationship with him. I was basically saying [those comments], you know, out of friendship. People were like, ‘Oh, you’re going to kick Chuck Liddell to the curb.’ Far from it. Whether he’s fighting or retired, he’s going to be with the UFC until I’m dead.”
And what exactly was discussed during their friendly conversation?
“Chuck told me, being the Chuck Liddell we all now and love, ‘I’m not done fighting yet, I love fighting, I want to fight still, and I want to take a run at the title again,'” White said. “So how do I say no to that? I think he’s changed his lifestyle habits a little bit. He’s gotten back in the gym and started training hard. He’s focused and taking it seriously. We’ll see what happens Saturday.”
Although most media outlets may not be buying it, The Iceman and White do appear to be on the same page. Liddell claims that he has already found a way to put an end to all of this retirement nonsense.
“Honestly, I’m planning to come out and have an impressive performance and knock him out,” Liddell mater-of-factly stated. “With that, I don’t think there’s going to be any problems with bringing me back (to the UFC), so I’m really not worried about it. It’s not something I worry about. It’s like everything else. This fight is very important, it’s a very tough fight, and so I’m going to concentrate on this. I’ll worry about what happens after the fight after the fight.”
That game plan sounds great and all, in fact it is the exact same strategy the slugger has always had, but Liddell hasn’t been able to execute it since he TKO’d Tito Ortiz in late 2006.
So Dana, hypothetically, what happens if The Iceman gets knocked out cold again on Saturday?
“As a friend (of Liddell’s), I’m not going to run backstage and say, ‘You’re done, it’s over, beat it, and get lost,'” White said. “We’ll sit down and talk after the fight on Saturday and see what happens.
“He’s going to have to come out put on a good performance,” White added. “Because my point is, what more does this guy have left to prove? He’s the most famous mixed martial artist in this sport. He helped us build this sport. He made a ton of money, and he’s held the world championship. I mean, he’s done everything you can possibly do, and he’s almost 40 years old now.”