Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture engaged in one of the most meaningful and memorable trilogies in MMA history and the two have treated each other with respect throughout their careers. It is perhaps due in part to this that Liddell’s late-career decline hit so close to home for “The Natural.”
After once being considered the most dangerous light heavyweight on the planet, Liddell began to show some signs of wear and tear, culminating in a 1-5 stretch that saw him knocked out four times in a row. As a result, the MMA community began a debate over whether or not “The Iceman” should retire and, at times, things got pretty ugly. Though he is 47-years-old, Couture is currently on a three-fight winning streak and his recent announcement that this weekend’s bout against Lyoto Machida will be his last has come as a surprise to many.
The UFC Hall of Famer explained to the press recently (props to MMAFighting.com) that the way Liddell was treated at the end of his career — basically being forced into retirement — has him eager to end things on his own terms.
“To see a guy who was the champ for as long as he was the champ to be in that situation, I thought as an athlete it kind of sucked,” said Couture. “And I didn’t want to be in that spot.
“[This is what I love to do,” he added. “But I don’t want to stick around too long and have everybody talking behind my back like that and forcing me to make a decision that I really don’t want to make. I want to go out on my terms. I’ve got a lot of things going on in my life, and this is the right time for me.”
Though he is wary of their fickleness, Couture explained that he is very grateful to fans for their dedicated support over the years — though it doesn’t sound like their pleas against his retirement will very much influence his decision.
“The fans have been fantastic,” Couture said. “Fans are funny. For 10 years now, I’ve been hearing, ‘How much longer can you keep going? When are you going to be done?’ And then you finally make the decision to be done and they’re like, ‘You can’t do it. You can’t retire.’ So it’s been funny, this back-and-forth with the fans. They’ve been fantastic in supporting me whether I’ve won or lost, and that’s been nice.”
“The Natural” will meet fellow former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida this Saturday night on the main card of UFC 129, which is going down at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Don’t forget to check back on FightLine.com in order to catch our live, ongoing coverage of the event.