Nearly two weeks have passed since Chuck Liddell was brutally knocked out by the hands of Rich Franklin. I’ve waited, thought about it, and have come to the same conclusion I did minutes after the fight: Chuck Liddell is finished.
Liddell came into the fight in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in. He stopped going out, stopped drinking, stopped doing all the things outside the cage detrimental to his fighting career. He even changed his diet. This was a rededicated Chuck Liddell the world was seeing. And when he entered that cage at UFC 115, it was to the tune of a thunderous Canadian crowd. This is what they paid for, to see the “new” Chuck Liddell return to former glory and viciously knock out his opponent.
They went wanting.
All that he changed, all that he did, was still not enough to best Rich Franklin. After a back and forth first round, Rich would land a short right hook in the closing seconds that would fell the “The Iceman” for, it would seem, the last time. You could see the crowd’s collective hearts drop as they all assumed this would be the last they would see the MMA legend compete. The sorrow even hit company president, and best friend of Liddell, Dana White. As he congratualated Franklin, you could see the loss tear at his emotions. He would have to tell his best friend, “No more.”
Recently Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports asked Liddell about his future and he replied, “I’m still working on evaluating. I thought I did great before I was caught. I have to look at it some more and think about it. I think I looked good and I definitely was in great shape. I could have kept that pace up for another four rounds, without a doubt.” Liddell continued, “There’s a lot still to think about. I felt pretty good and I think showed I can compete. I’m not going to rush and I’ll do what I think is best. I’m just not at a point to make that decision yet.”
All that points to “The Iceman” wanting to give it another go. I sure hope that’s not the case, but it sounds like the same answer he gave the first time Dana White “retired” him after his knockout loss to current Light Heavyweight Champion, Maurica “Shogun” Rua.
If Liddell were to continue fighting he would be at best, a low-to-mid-level light-heavyweight. At worst, he’s a punching bag that could get seriously hurt. I would lean towards the latter if I had to choose. I don’t want to see either. Especially from someone who was the first ever cross-over MMA superstar. Liddell’s stardom shone so bright that he starred in guest-spots on television shows like HBO’s “Entourage”, that he would land a few movie cameos like in “300″, that he couldn’t walk down the street without being mugged by adoring fans. His star power was so big that even when his fighting career wasn’t going well, ABC asked him to participate on their hit show “Dancing with the Stars.” But, that’s the problem. The sport’s biggest star can’t be dropping five out of his last six, three in a row by knockout.
At one time, Chuck Liddell was the most feared man in The Octagon. Now, fighters are jumping at the chance to make a name for themselves by knocking the former champion out. I’d rather remember one of the greatest fighters of all time screaming in victory, not whimpering in loss after loss. There is nothing quite like Liddell’s victory celebration and that image will forever be the one I remember him by.
I will say this though, a true fighter has to be put down, and much like the character he portrayed in “300,” he went out on his shield.