While it may sound familiar, this time it seems like it might be true. UFC President Dana White noted last night at the UFC 115: Liddell vs. Franklin post-fight press conference that the storied career of Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell is likely over after last night’s first-round knockout loss to Rich Franklin.
“I hope he agrees,” said White. “I don’t think he won’t.”
White had tried to convince Liddell to retire following his loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 97: Redemption in April of last year. Liddell promised to change his lifestyle, prompting White to gave him another shot. Liddell looked better physically and technically last night than he has in several Octagon performances.
“Chuck Liddell came in fantastic shape… he worked hard for this thing and I think him and Rich Franklin tonight fought the type of fights that made them both famous and made them both world champions,” White admitted. “Those two went at it, nonstop, toe-to-toe. It was a fun fight.”
Liddell came out of the gate looking to mix things up and keep his striking technical, however with five seconds left in the first round, Franklin proved that no amount of training can improve a deteriorating chin.
“I don’t think there was any secret in anybody’s mind, including Rich Franklin and his camp, what Chuck’s game plan was going to be tonight,” White said. “Chuck fights the same way. Chuck is very aggressive. He has a style that made him very popular, very famous and made him a world champion. At 40 years old, you don’t go in with a different game plan and do different things.”
Liddell had the upper hand for much of the opening round. Late in the round after throwing a nice head kick and pushing Franklin against the cage, Liddell landed a clean elbow. As he tried to follow up with a loaded right hand, Franklin hit Liddell with a short right of his own that put the former champ out cold.
“You know what? He went out like Chuck Liddell,” White said. “He went out like Chuck Liddell would. Came out blasting, bombing, tried to put Rich away in a slugfest, and he gave the fans a good last fight.”
White noted that while Liddell’s fighting future in the UFC is over, he will have a job for life in the organization.
“We had a dream that it was going to be like this, and we’re living it and it happened,” he noted. “He actually lived inside that window, and I have not one sad feeling in my body at all. We did it. We did it, he was part of it, and he’ll always be a part of it.”
Thanks to Mark Wayne for contributing to this article.