May 11, 2009

Chuck Liddell, Retirement, and the Elephant in the Room

Filed under: Uncategorized — kneebar @ 8:58 pm

Additional background here on Sherdog

If you’re Chuck Liddell right now, you have some tough decisions to make.  You’ve dropped several fights in the past 2 years to some of the best 205 talent ever assembled.  You’ve got a solid financial standing thanks to good paydays, endorsements, and maybe even the application of that time studying accounting.  You’ve just lost a disappointing fight, and your boss and good buddy is saying hey man, let’s not risk your health, we want you to work with us in promotion, keep the money coming in, and keep you close to things.  A hall of fame spot is on the way, if not this year, then next, or the year after you finally decide to retire.  All of these accomplishments aside, you still want to get in there and put yourself on the line with some of the new guys, test them and test yourself.

Your coach, and very close friend senses this conflict in your heart, wants to stand up for you, says you’ll decide when you’re done, no one else, that you’ve got plenty of fights left in you.  He’s right you know, but his interest is conflicted, actually, both interests are conflicted.  You just want to go out on your own terms, and to tell you the truth, you have earned it.

There is no doubt that Dana White wants Chuck to retire, and John Hackleman says Chuck can still fight if he wants.  Chuck hasn’t said a thing, but he has options, he has a fight left on his contract, and he’s got some time left.  Hackleman is saying White is being a control freak who is selfish and rude.  Dana says Hackleman needs to find another gravy train to ride on, and that Hack is putting Chuck as risk for his own reasons.

Fans debate.  Some say it should be Chuck’s call (it should), some say take the desk job, live the life, minimize your chance of long term damage to your body, and some say Chuck has 1 fight left to fulfill.  Chuck will probably not contend for a UFC title again.  This has led some fans to speculate that Chuck could go to Strikeforce, or Chuck could test the waters at heavyweight.

Let’s look at the bad ideas; Chuck testing the waters at heavyweight. The light heavyweight division is hell on Chuck, guys are too talented, too fast, athletic, and also some are just physically a step up overall.  Heavyweight has a lot of wrestlers, guys with subpar striking.  Who could Chuck beat at heavyweight.  Jake O’Brien is moving to 205, and he might be able to lay and pray Chuck, Kongo is so much bigger, stronger, and decent at striking he’d win.  Couture again….Couture is a different animal at heavy than he is at 205, now that he’s honed his dirty boxing clinch game.  Napao is big, strong, good on the ground, and talented standing.  Carwin is a possible one punch knockout away from beating anyone, Lesnar is nearly in the same boat, and Pat Berry has a serious striking background.  Cain Velazquez is a great wrestler who is getting better standing.  The only fights that Chuck is competitive in are against Justin McCully, Antoni Hardonk, Stefan Strouve, Al Turk, and random Viking guy

Strikeforce is an unrealistic option, Chuck’s payscale is entirely on another level, at 500k/points, and endorsements.  Strikeforce pays outrageous money to Frank Shamrock and Cung Le, and they still don’t match Chuck’s payouts(thanks MMAPayout)  Strikeforce doesn’t even have a roster that could sell ppvs right now competitively against Affliction.  If they want to make money, Chuck is going to send them losses financially, and by the time they turn the corner, Chuck can’t even fight anymore, or is down enough to not draw like he used to.  Strikeforce (purveyors of splendid fights)  just doesn’t seem like a prudent decision for Chuck.

Chuck has some serious thinking to do.


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