UFC president Dana White is known to be a long-time friend of Hall-of-Famer Chuck Liddell. So when news broke about “The Iceman’s” plans to come out of retirement at 48 years of age to take on a third fight against Tito Ortiz, the outspoken UFC executive was not on board with it.
“I couldn’t do that fight. I love the guy. I love Chuck Liddell, I love him,” White told TMZ in February. “As a friend, I don’t think he should fight. And anybody around him who cares about him shouldn’t let him fight either.”
But according to fellow promoter Oscar De La Hoya, even someone of White’s stature bears no right to tell any fighter where their career should be headed.
“Being a fighter myself, I would never, ever, like somebody to tell me that I should retire,” De La Hoya told MMAjunkie in a recent interview. “You never tell a fighter to retire. That’s his business. It’s the fighter’s business.
“Imagine if I would have told George Foreman to retire. Imagine if I would have told Bernard Hopkins at 51 years old to retire. He would have never won the world title. Imagine somebody tells Floyd (Mayweather), you’re already 40 years old, you should retire. You don’t tell fighters to retire. It’s in their blood. It’s in their heart.”
Liddell was not exactly performing well prior to his retirement in 2010, incurring three straight knockout losses. Two of which ended in the first round.
But for De La Hoya, Liddell is still worthy enough to be placed as headliner for his first venture into mixed martial arts promotion this Saturday at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
“Chuck Liddell has earned it,” De La Hoya said. “He’s looking in phenomenal shape; he’s training like there’s no tomorrow. He wants to build a team and have this trilogy with Tito, which I strongly feel is going to be one of the best trilogies that’s ever taken place in the MMA world. So let it be.”
“Let’s let them enjoy it.”
Upon Daniel Cormier’s retirement announcement at UFC 230, White did say that he “never convinced anyone to stick around”, but just a few days ago, he stated that he “hopes to get three more” Cormier fights, including a trilogy with Jon Jones.