(VidProps: MMA Fighting)
Regardless of how you think of Chuck Liddell on a personal level, it was hard not to feel bad for the guy last night. Liddell seemed just seconds away from heading back to his corner up 1-0 during his UFC 115 main event fight against Rich Franklin, after showing off a surprisingly diverse striking attack and even a takedown during the opening stanza. Then Franklin clipped him with a short right square on the jaw and as soon as Liddell’s rigid body hit the canvas, you could almost hear the entire MMA world sigh and say: Well, that’s the end of that.
And it was. Hopefully for good this time. In the above video with Ariel Helwani, UFC President Dana White guaran-damn-tees that we’ve really, absolutely seen the end of “The Iceman” in the Octagon. Liddell was taken to the hospital immediately following the fight, so he and White had not yet spoken at the time of filming, but there’s no arguing with the decision. At this point in his career – after three consecutive ugly KO losses – it’s starting to look like a solid gust of wind has to potential to knock Liddell stiff. It’s time to pull the plug on this thing while he still has most of his faculties.
From the neck down, Liddell appeared to be in competitive shape on Saturday and that will surely only make a second forced-departure from the sport he helped build even more difficult for him to swallow. But as the mid ’90s cliché reminds us: That’s just pride fucking with you. Whatever magic Liddell possessed during his run of seven straight knockout wins in the Octagon from 2004-06, it’s gone now and it ain’t coming back. He still has a prospective fight with longtime rival Tito Ortiz – who inexplicably tweeted “That Sucked!” immediately following last night’s main event – on the table, but here’s hoping a third meeting between those two never comes to fruition.
Still, even Franklin, who somehow shook off a broken arm to win the bout, said afterward that he wasn’t happy with the idea that he had finally drummed Liddell out of MMA.
“I went to his locker room after the fight to check on him, but he was with the doctors and I just spoke to John Hackleman for a few seconds,” Franklin said during the post-fight presser. “I don’t want to be the guy labeled as the person who put him out of the sport, I don’t like the thought of that.”
I’m not sure that any of us really like the thought of a UFC light heavyweight division without the mohawked, mustachioed “Iceman” creeping around in a military surplus jacket and every once in a while knocking out some poor schmuck with an impossible-looking overhand right. But those are the breaks. Time makes monkeys out of all of us. As fans, the best we can hope for at this point is continued years of watching Liddell have spontaneous seizures at cageside while he coaches and corners younger fighters.
It won’t be easy, but Chuck’s brain will thank us later.