(Props: Fight Magazine)
I blame Brett Favre. His success with the Minnesota Vikings this year must have every forty-something pro athlete thinking that they still have a few more good years in them. Maybe some of them do. But maybe some of them are going to get their brains turned into soup while they find out they’re wrong.
Lately Chuck Liddell is sounding like he won’t be happy until he becomes a cautionary tale. Coming back to coach "The Ultimate Fighter" opposite Tito Ortiz makes good enough sense, and even the a third fight against The HBBB isn’t such a bad idea. Liddell’s already beaten Ortiz twice with relative ease, so why not do it once more now that his own reflexes have slowed just enough to make it competitive? But Liddell doesn’t want to stop there. As he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
"I would like another fight and then I want another fight after," he said. "Hopefully, Dana’s happy with my two wins and I get a shot at a contender and then a shot at a title. That’s four fights and that’s about as far forward as I’ve thought."
A part of me wants to support Liddell’s push for more fights, if only because the decision about when to retire should, ideally, be his and not Dana White’s. From where Liddell stands, the calls for him to bow out must seem absurd. The guy’s on top of the 205-pound heap for years, then he loses one fight to Rashad Evans (who goes on to briefly become the UFC light heavyweight champ) and another to "Shogun" Rua (who goes on to fight for/very nearly win the belt) and he’s supposed to call it quits, just because he’s not the absolute best anymore?
Yes. That’s exactly what he should do. Because this is a business where you can get very badly hurt, no matter how much you still love being in there, and because Liddell is the rare fighter who has other options. Even if he needed the money, and he probably doesn’t, he has other ways to make it.
Randy Couture is probably more to blame than Brett Favre for Liddell’s refusal to give it up. He’s still plugging away, and looking pretty good for his age. But Liddell isn’t Couture. He hasn’t taken the same immaculate care with his body that Couture has, and his style is far less conducive to aging and slowing down. If he does keep at it past the fight with Ortiz, and if he ends up facing the younger crop of up-and-coming light heavyweights, he’s probably going to get this lesson hammered into his skull.