Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports has followed up his comments that were initially made during a post-UFC 76 article from late Saturday in which he briefly made mention that former UFC heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell was contemplating retirement.
Iole now has a full-length feature devoted to the topic and the article includes several telling quotes from UFC president Dana White:
But White, Liddell’s former manager and a close personal friend, speculated that Liddell may simply no longer have the passion to fight. White said he didn’t see the fire that Liddell used to exhibit and that it resulted in a flat performance. At the post-fight news conference, Liddell deferred questions about his future. He said he would go home and think about whether he would fight again, which in and of itself was newsworthy since he’d never had given an indication before that he was remotely considering that option.
But White said he spoke with Liddell in the locker room and they had a frank discussion.
“There’s a hunger thing that you have to have to be an elite fighter and I just didn’t see a Chuck Liddell who was as hungry as he used to be,” White said Sunday. “Chuck has made a lot of money in this business and he’s done a lot of things, but he wasn’t the Chuck of old.
“Chuck was never a guy who fought for money; he fought because he loved to fight. He’d just as soon go out and fight in the back yard for free as fight before 20,000 people on a card he was making a ton of money because he just loved to fight.”
I’d hate to see Liddell retire. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time and I think his exit would hurt the sport. I also think that it would be a mistake though for him to continue fighting if the “fire” isn’t there anymore. However, and I’ve said this already, I think that with some time off that the urge to return will become too great.
If Dana is correct that Chuck truly loves to fight, then he’s not going to be able to stay away from the cage for an extended period of time if he continues to go to shows and be a part of the scene.
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