It appears that if Chuck Liddell's career is in a similar spot as it was just a little more than a year ago. Dana White, fans and pinheaded bloggers alike are all calling for an end to the Hall of Famer's fighting exploits. It's difficult to watch a once dominant athlete struggle unless you just can't stand the person in question. And as Ben Fowlkes explains, it's tough for an accomplished fighter to hang it up - especially after a win. To wit:
In spite of the relatively mild shot that finished him, Liddell went out the same way that he triumphed for most of his career: flinging punches with ill intent. He tagged Franklin early and often, even breaking his opponent's arm with a kick shortly before the finish.
In some bizarre way, it might even be the perfect ending to a great career.
Sure, I know everyone wants to go out on a win, but in the fight game it rarely works that way. Just try and talk a winning fighter into retiring. See how far that gets you. The truth is that all real fighters need to be beaten into retirement. They need to find out for sure that it's over. One only hopes that they can do it with the same heart and dignity that they showed during their best days.
Liddell has already done the first half. He came forward and made Franklin put him away. He went down swinging, which is the way any proud champion wants to go out.
Yours truly was one of those pinheaded bloggers looking for Liddell to call it quits after his knockout loss to Shogun Rua. But as I pointed out in that exercise in fan analysis, it's not my call to make. Apparently and understandably, Liddell was not convinced. By most accounts, the former champ did everything he could to prepare himself for his UFC 115 bout with Rich Franklin. What he couldn't do, however, was turn back the hands of time or change his game into one that significantly minimized his chances of receiving a knockout blow.
In MMA, as in life, the storybook ending isn't usually achieved. The good guy doesn't always get the girl. Often times symmetry escapes fight sport (and other places as well). Maybe, Ben Fowlkes' above assessment is correct. If it's not, it certainly sounds good enough for me to get behind. Liddell has always been a warrior in the Octagon, a fan favorite and a lock to put on an exciting bout. Assuming last night was Liddell's last foray as an MMA fighter, his devotion to his all-out fighting style, the one which propelled him to the zenith of the sport, is to be applauded.