Dana White File Photo: Sherdog.com
As he stood before media Saturday at the UFC 115 post-fight news conference, Dana White had not yet talked to Chuck Liddell. The 40-year-old hall of famer, whom Rich Franklin knocked out in the first round of the main event, was on his way to the hospital. White was on his way to capping Liddell’s career.
“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 swung for the knockout. Late in the first, he seemed close to getting it. He appeared to have Franklin in danger against the cage, but after the fight, Franklin said he absorbed a combination but wasn’t as hurt as Liddell might have thought. “The Iceman” moved in for the kill and took a counter right to his chin. The fight was over, and probably a career.
White said it was time for Liddell to retire.
“I hope he agrees,” he said, “and I don’t think he won’t.”
In April 2009, the UFC president had announced Liddell was done after a stoppage loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. That defeat was the former light heavyweight champion’s fourth in five fights. White explained that Liddell had changed his lifestyle and rededicated himself to training to earn another chance in the Octagon. Photos of a sculpted Liddell surfaced on the Internet. Hope for a resurgence followed.
Then Franklin knocked out the optimism. Now, listening to White, the story is about Liddell’s legacy, not about whether he’ll fight again.
“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, who used to manage Liddell before becoming UFC president, expressed no regrets in giving a man he considers a friend one more fight.
“We had a dream that it was going to be like this, and we’re living it and it happened,” White said of the UFC’s success and Liddell’s role in it. “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.”