The Iceman Goeth

At UFC 115 on two weeks ago UFC superstar Chuck Liddell was handed his third consecutive loss.  In a post-fight interview UFC president Dana White declared unequivocally that Liddell will not fight in the Octagon again.

Liddell, along with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is the most popular and recognizable fighter in the UFC. But with a 1-4  record since losing his UFC Light Heavyweight title to Jackson it is clear that the game has passed the Iceman by.  It is not just the losses, it is the way he has lost.  Liddell was possibly the greatest counter-puncher of all time in the UFC. During his nearly two year reign as the Light Heavyweight champ from 2005 to 2007 he successfully defended his title four times and ended each fight with a TKO or KO. During this time the Iceman was the baddest man in the Octagon and undoubtedly the most dangerous striker in MMA.

But then Rampage KOed him on one punch. Then future Light Heavyweight champ Rashad Evans knocked him out with one punch. Then another future Light Heavyweight champ, Maurico “Shogun” Rua TKOed him with a flurry of punches. And finally at UFC 115, Rich Franklin, a former middleweight champion, KOed with one punch. Franklin delivered his knockout with his right arm, because his left arm had been broken earlier in the fight.

His losses have not come against slouches, but he has clearly been outclassed in the division. It looks impossible for Liddell to ever get his belt back unless about five guys suddenly retire. Most of all he has been surpassed at what made him great -  striking and counter-punching. Worse, he seems to have no chin anymore and looks to be an easy knockout to an elite striker.

Liddell has been criticized for being one-dimensional and not keeping in good fighting shape in the past. But he came into his fight against Franklin fit and trimmed. In both his last two fights he showed more diversity in his game, mixing up his striking with some grappling.

But despite his re-dedication to the sport it is clear to everyone that his time is up.  He is 40 years old and has over 30 fights on his body. It is time for him to retire. The Light Heavyweight division in the UFC is too loaded right now for him to have a chance.

But please Chuck, don’t go Strikeforce or some other lesser fighting organization.  We understand, everyone wants to go out on top. That is why Brett Favre hems and haws everyone off-season, and that’s why Jordan ended up playing for the Wizards. But you’re already a UFC Hall of Famer. Sticking around for more disappointing losses is only going to taint your legacy the same way MJ’s Washington stint tainted his.

Chuck you were the baddest man in the world for two years. If you want us to remember you that way, retire now. We’ll appreciate it and still appreciate you years from now as one MMA’s greatest of all time.

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