Chuck Liddell's Retirement Is Further Proof That The UFC Is Not Bending For Anyone
In the end, it's probably the best decision for Liddell. He has lost 4 of his last 5 fights, 3 by knockout. Prior to that, he had enjoyed more success in the UFC than anyone in the history of the organization. He will finish his career with 16 career wins in the UFC. That's a UFC record, and for about 7 years, he was the most dominant fighter in the sport.
At this point in his career, Liddell is still hugely popular and has a huge following. As Dana White pointed out after the fight, they could still put him on any card they want and it would be a huge draw. In fact, that's exactly what other organizations would do. Strikeforce just paraded out an obviously over-the-hill Frank Shamrock as the main event in their most recent card. Liddell, despite his recent struggles in the UFC, is worlds ahead of Shamrock.
The now-defunct EliteXC based their promotion around the viral popularity of street fighter Kevin Ferguson, AKA Kimbo Slice and female superstar Gina Carano. While Kimbo looked decent in a few fights against scrubs, he was exposed quickly by former Ultimate Fighter candidate Seth Petruzelli. Carano is still undefeated among the womens ranks, but has yet to face Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, believed by many to be the best female fighter in the world, but not as marketable as the more attractive Carano. One of the biggest knocks against Carano (and Santos) has been the issue of making weight, since it has consistently been an issue with Carano, and was a huge deal in Cyborg's latest fight.
Dana White and the UFC have been adamantly against bringing in women, and was extremely outspoken against EliteXC's marketing of Kimbo Slice. In the end, he was vindicated (and then some) when Petruzelli embarrased Kimbo and essentially shut the doors on EliteXC.
By pushing Liddell into retirement, White is proving that he is genuinely looking out for the best interests the sport. There's still tons of money to be made by putting Liddell back into the octagon. There's no doubt about it. But while any other organization would be more than happy to do so, and would compensate Liddell generously, White and the UFC know that Liddell's time has passed, and it's time for him to hang up the gloves. Sure, Liddell could still go out and beat some lower level opponents. He could probably join any other MMA organization and completely wipe out their 205 lb division. Dana White knows that, the rest of the UFC brass know that, and Chuck probably knows it too. But he'll never fight in the UFC again, because they will only accept the best of the best.
Kudos to the UFC for knowing when it's time to cut someone off, and making the tough decision to have one of their all-time greats call it quits. Like it or not, that's what will keep the organization at the top for years to come. We'll miss seeing Chuck Liddell fight, but there are plenty of fighters to take his place in the UFC, and the light heavyweight division is still in good hands.
Rua sends Liddell to the showers one final time [Cage Writer]
Dana White: Chuck Liddell is retired [MMA Junkie]