We’ve seen it so many times before, however it’s easy to forget how difficult it is for a champion to call it a career. Although it’s inevitable every superstar loses their battle with Father Time, a prolonged retirement is one of the cruelest things a fan can watch their favorite athlete suffer through.
For every Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, whose post-retirement comebacks failed to live up to their prior levels of awesomeness, a 39-year-old Brett Favre is able to fend off Mr. Time to write a few more chapters in a storybook career.
However, those athletes achieved their greatness in team sports. Regardless of how spectacular their individual skills were, it took a talented squad to compliment their genius. Unfortunately for Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, he’s on an island that Octagon door slams shut.
As heartless as professional sports can be, the devastating realization of not being younger, bigger, faster and stronger is no more painfully glaring than it is in mixed martial arts. In the 40-year-old Liddell’s case, he’s dropped four of his last five bouts with three of them ending in knockout fashion, which has prompted his longtime buddy and current boss, UFC president Dana White, to “encourage” his retirement.
“That’s not what my focus is. That’s not what I’m doing,” Liddell said of hanging up his gloves once and for all during a recent conference call. “Right now my sole focus is on getting ready for this fight and getting ready to fight Rich [Franklin]. I’ll worry about what happens after the fight, after the fight.
Although Liddell owns a convincing 21-7 professional record, with 14 of his W’s ending before the final horn, he has clearly lost a step or three. To help compensate for his advanced age, Liddell turned his training up multiple notches, which included an immensely strict diet, to get his illustrious career back on track.
“I respect Rich so that motivates you more to get into the gym and I’ve gotta be prepared,” Liddell said. “My timing’s on. I’m in great shape. I’m ready to go. I’ve got to show up ready to go or I’ll pay for it.”
The light heavyweights take center stage this Saturday at UFC 115. As expected, Liddell appears fully prepared to leave GM Place in Vancouver, Canada with a victory and snap his two-fight skid.
“I’m planning on making another run at the title – that’s what I want to do, so we’ll see what happens,” Liddell said in closing.
Unfortunately for Liddell, he’s no Randy Couture, and certainly hasn’t dedicated his life to protecting his body like the 46-year-old freak has. I think we may all have seen this somber non-Hollywood ending before …