If former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell didn’t know before, the writing is certainly plastered all over the wall now. With his loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua last night at UFC 97, he has now lost four out of his last five, three of which were in devastating knockout fashion. Liddell and UFC president Dana White believe his time has come.
“Yeah, that’s probably the case,” stated a disappointed Liddell. “I’m not going to make any decisions until I go home to talk to everybody, talk to my people and my friends. … But it’s probably safe to say (I’m retired).”
White had dropped hints before the scrap that Liddell not only needed to win, but needed to do it in impressive fashion if he intended to get back into the 205-pound title picture.
On Saturday, he was unable to do either. But that was all good with White.
“He’s a huge superstar, and we could still sell lots of tickets (with Liddell),” White said. “But I don’t care about that. I care about him. I care about his health, and it’s over, man. It’s over.”
White, a long-time confidant of Liddell’s, has been nudging the soon-to-be 40-year-old to hang up his gloves, however in true warrior spirit, Liddell wasn’t having it.
Well, whether he wants it or not, he’s gonna get it because Shogun gave it to him on Saturday night.
“How we built this company – using boxing as the blueprint – (and we) don’t let guys hang around longer than they should,” White said. “I was pushing for retirement. He’s my friend. I love him, and I care about him. We sat down (prior to UFC 97). We had a two-hour talk. He wanted to do this (fight). I said, ‘If you take this seriously – if I hear you’re in one [expletive] nightclub, if you’re not training, if you’re not doing this, doing that – it’s over. That’s it. He said, ‘No, I’m taking this seriously.’
“And he did. He kept his word. He was in great shape. He came out guns slinging like he does, but that was it. If that (fight) was a toe-to-toe war and he got flashed (knocked down) a couple times and it went to decision, he’d still be retiring too. He’d still be retiring.”
Seldom does the brash Prez ever show his softer side, however he and Liddell have always had a special relationship. In fact White used to assist in managing The Iceman back in the day, and because of that, he no longer wants Liddell to be his employee.
“I don’t want him to fight anymore,” White said. “He [expletive] doesn’t have anything to prove. Nothing to prove. He doesn’t have to prove anything to me or the rest of world. He has [expletive] loads of money. There’s no reason for it. … I don’t care how much he draws. I don’t want to see him get hurt.”
Just because he won’t be fighting inside the Octagon doesn’t mean that he will be searching for employment anytime soon. Or ever if White has anything to say about it.
“He’ll always have a home here,” White emphatically said.