So remember that “war” that UFC president Dana White promised to wage if Chuck Liddell opted not to retire after losing to “Shogun” Rua at UFC 97? Liddell has yet to officially call it quits, though he also hasn’t expressed any overwhelming desire to fight again, but this war increasingly seems like it’s between White and Liddell’s trainer, John Hackleman — not Liddell himself. After Hackleman pointed out some of the obvious problems with White trying to make life decisions for another autonomous human being, White fired back in a talk with Sherdog:
“Obviously, John Hackleman didn’t pay his house off yet. John Hackleman needs some money, because anybody who claims they care about Chuck Liddell even a little bit would not be making these f–king statements. …He’s never been a decision-maker in Chuck’s career. I can tell you this: He didn’t make Chuck Liddell. Chuck Liddell made John Hackleman. How many great, talented guys do you see coming out of John Hackleman’s place? He’s no Greg Jackson. He’s no Mark DellaGrotte. He’s no American Top Team. He’s not one of the great camps. Chuck Liddell made him.”
For his part, Hackleman isn’t saying that Liddell needs to fight anymore or even that he should, but rather that it should be his choice. Which is, you know, obviously true. He called White a “bully” and pointed out that there was really no need to run his mouth in the press about his intentions to force Liddell into retirement out of a concern for his health. Which is, again, true. It’s one thing to do something out of concern for your friend, and it’s another thing to make damn sure everyone around you sees what you’re doing out of concern for your friend.
At this point, the argument is no longer really about whether Liddell should fight again. It’s about whether he gets to decide that for himself. Hackleman says yes. Dana White says Hackleman’s an asshole who’s just trying to profit off his one and only successful student. In case you hadn’t noticed by now, ad hominem attacks are basically White’s go-to move in situations like this.
Hackleman is right. Liddell is the only guy who can decide whether he should hang it up. Hopefully he decides that it’s the right move, but it’s got to come from him. Retirement is like rehab: if the person doesn’t want to do it on their own, it’s probably not going to stick.