Pulver, Others Offer Liddell Unsolicited Advice

By Mike Harris May 11, 2009
Like Chuck Liddell, Jens Pulver is at a career crossroads.

Both veteran fighters have lost many more bouts than they’ve won recently and are considered by some in the sport to be on the downside of long, storied careers.

So Pulver can certainly relate to the 39-year-old Liddell’s situation, in which the MMA light heavyweight superstar is under pressure from UFC President Dana White to hang his gloves up and retire.

Pulver, however, as well as everyone else asked by Sherdog.com, said that only Liddell can decide what’s next for Liddell.

“He’s in the same boat I’m in,” said Pulver (22-11-1), 34, a WEC featherweight who has lost five of his last six fights, including his last three. “Personally, I think he needs just to sit back and figure out what it is he wants to do.

“Should he retire? No,” Pulver said. “I mean, I don’t believe anybody should retire unless they feel they’re ready to retire. Is he still a fighter? Absolutely. The guy can knock someone out in a heartbeat.”

Following Liddell’s first-round technical knockout loss against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 97, his fourth loss in his last five fights, White said he would not allow Liddell (21-7) to fight again in the Octagon out of concerns for his physical well-being.

Pulver said that unlike Liddell, he needs the money, especially since his second child, a son, was born in December, and that’s a big factor in him deciding not to retire.

“So does he need the money? No,” Pulver said. “So why does he even want to do it? ‘Why do you feel like doing it?’ And find that out and hold on to that, man, and use it to get through training, use it to go back, go old school, go back to your roots, to what got you here. Lambaste people. Ignore the bumps. Get back out there and keep going. You get bumped off. You get back on.”

Pulver said Liddell’s age in and of itself is no reason to retire.

“But when you’re fighting the best guys in the world, the top five guys in the world, things are gonna happen, and that’s something I’m always saying to myself: ‘You’re not losing to the worst guys in the world,’” said the former UFC lightweight champion.

However, unlike in boxing, Pulver said, there are no “tune-up” fights in the Octagon.

“Chuck’s name is too big,” Pulver said. “He’s a Hall of Famer, a legend, a world champion. Every guy he fights is gonna be gunning for him. `Cause they can make a name for themselves” by beating Liddell. “I’m sitting in the same boat. Everybody I fight, they’re coming at me 1000 percent.”

Peter Lockley/Sherdog.com

Pulver relates to Liddell.
Pulver said he presumes his next opponent, 20-year-old Josh Grispi, who he faces June 7 for the WEC, will be no exception.

Another older MMA superstar, Randy Couture, who temporarily retired in 2006 after getting knocked out by Liddell in their rubber match at UFC 57, agreed that only Liddell can decide what’s next for his career.

“I'm in support of whatever Chuck decides is best for him,” said Couture, 45, who come out of retirement in 2007 to capture the UFC heavyweight belt for a third time before losing it to Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 last November. “I reserve comment. It's hard enough making a decision like that without everyone else adding their two cents.”

Monte Cox, widely considered the dean of MMA managers, agreed with Pulver, who he represents, that Liddell’s age alone is no reason to retire. Cox cited a number of fighters older than the 39-year-old Liddell who are still competing, including Couture, Mark Coleman, 44, and Dan Severn, 54.

“It’s certainly a precedent that guys that age in the sport can still compete,” Cox said. “It’s funny how it works in MMA. You can be on top of the world and you lose two fights and everyone thinks you’re done.”

Noting that Liddell and White “get along probably as well as any promoter/fighter duo out there,” Cox said that “if Chuck really wants to fight again, I think Dana will let him fight.”

And as Liddell’s longtime trainer, John Hackleman has suggested, Liddell’s next fight doesn’t necessarily have to be against an opponent as top-tier as his last several, Cox said. That likely would produce a victory for Liddell that would re-build his confidence, or at the very least, let him go out a winner, Cox said.

“It’s not something that would be revolutionary,” he said. “It happens all the time.”

Former fighter Jeff Clark, who along with another former competitor, Matt Stansell, runs NCFC Fight Management in Carlsbad, Calif., said he believes “a lot of people are born to do certain things and I think he (Liddell) is kind of born to be a fighter. So a lot of times if people try to get forced into other things, it doesn’t transfer all that naturally.”

White told Sherdog.com last Thursday that he wants Liddell to work for the UFC for the rest of his life, possibly doing regulatory work for the promotion.

Clark said that since Liddell remains such a draw and his passion for fighting is still there, “why not let the guy fight? You don’t have to be just the best in the world. As long as he still draws, as long as people still want to see him, you know, he could probably still have a few more fights in him.”

Despite White’s insistence that Liddell will never again fight in the UFC, Clark said he can’t imagine that White would ever let Liddell fight for any other promotion.

“It’s hard for me to believe that Dana would allow that to happen because Chuck is such a huge draw,” Clark said. “He is a guy who will become an icon of the sport forever.”

Even so, Clark said, from Liddell’s perspective, fighting in another promotion “would be great move because I think wherever Chuck fights, people are going to watch him.”

White told Sherdog.com that he would never allow Lidell to fight for another promotion, but later said he might if Liddell really pressed him to do so.

Trainer Greg Jackson, who runs Jackson’s Submission Fighting in Albuquerque, N.M, one of the top MMA camps in the country, said, “Chuck’s next career move should be whatever Chuck feels is best for him. I think he’s still relevant. I think he’s still a great fighter. He’s got a lot of options.”

Those options, Jackson said, as Pulver and Cox noted, include, “trying to get back on the winning track by taking someone [on] not at the highest level. Getting his game back together might be a really good move. It’s all up to him and Hackleman, who are very knowledgeable and certainly know what to do.”

Jackson said he believes that even as he approaches 40, Liddell still has some fights left in him.

“I think he does,” Jackson said. “No one can tell a fighter when he’s done except that fighter. Your friends can say, ‘Hey I think you should be done,’ but he has to feel it in his heart.

“People are looking out for his best interests, or what they feel are his best interests, but it really has to come from him.”
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>
Write For Us