(Dana may want to skip right to dessert.)
During a media scrum following today’s UFC 116 pre-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White made his feelings about his longtime friend Chuck Liddell continuing to compete in the Octagon crystal clear.
"He’ll never fight in the UFC again. Can Chuck Liddell still make money? Could I make money off of Chuck Liddell? Yes. I don’t want that money. I don’t want to make that kind of money," White asserted. "I’m not interested in that. He won’t do it again. He cannot do it again. It will not happen again."
According to White, there is nothing Liddell can say or do to change his mind this time , pointing out that the biggest reason for the decision not to allow Chuck to continue to compete in the Octagon isn’t because of his age or level of fitness, it’s because The Iceman’s chin, which was once made of granite, has now turned to glass.
"The last time when we were sitting down — and this guy is somebody that I care about and respect and consider a friend of mine — and he’s like, ‘Listen, I didn’t take it serious. I’m going to train for this one. I’m going to train like I’ve never trained before.’ We had that conversation and he did; he kept his word, and he did everything like he said he would do," White explained. "He looked phenomenal. My problem isn’t with Chuck Liddell getting in shape or any of that stuff; the problem is Chuck’s chin. Anybody who’s been in this sport long enough knows you used to be able to hit him in the face with a crowbar and you couldn’t even wobble him. That’s not the case anymore. It’s not worth it to me."
White is set to broach the topic with Liddell tonight when the two meet for dinner, and says although it’s against his better judgment, he would release him if he wants to continue to fight, but says he won’t pull any punches when discussing his feelings about the situation with his friend, whom he used to manage before taking the helm of the UFC.
"Chuck’s a smart guy and a reasonable guy. I’m going to have the talk with him tonight that all the guys that have their heads shoved up his ass won’t," he says. "We’ll have that conversation. I guess if he asked me to release him, I’d release him. That’s not what I want."
In closing, White spoke about his relationship with Liddell , paralleling a eulogy, perhaps foreshadowing a speech he’ll likely make during the inevitable press conference held to announce that the world has seen the last of "The Iceman"the fighter.
"Everybody knows how I feel about Chuck Liddell. Not only has he been a great friend, he’s been a great business partner, a great champion and a great representative of the UFC. Being one of those guys that when we all came from nothing and then everything blew up – and this guy got more fame and money and all this stuff – he really kept it together," White said somberly. "We’ve had a couple of speed bumps, but that can happen to anybody. He’s really kept it together and been a great guy."