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Why MMA Legend Iceman Chuck Liddell Should Never Be Allowed To Fight Again

Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Mixed Martial Artist Chuck Liddell, who is 48 years old, is a former UFC Light Heavyweight champion. Why, after being out of the MMA ring for over eight years, would Liddell return to the ring a few weeks short of his 49th birthday to fight Tito Ortiz a third time? Liddell was knocked out cold by Ortiz at 4:24 of the first round at The Forum in Inglewood, California, on November 24, 2018, just an old man, a shadow of his once magnificent MMA former self. UFC President Dana White stated after the bout “Chuck Liddell is almost 50 years old, and has no business fighting anymore.”

The answer is simple. A necessity due to circumstance. The reason Liddell fought Ortiz was because when Zuffa MMA sold its company to WME in 2016, they cut Chuck Liddell off the UFC Executive Board. Liddell became unemployed, outside of paid Legend appearances. Liddell had been making around 1 one million dollars a year as a member of the executive board of the UFC. He had two years with no work, and a family to feed, and this put him into a situation where he wanted to fight for one more big payday.  He still will not admit it, but this is what happened. Tito Ortiz, aged 43, announced his MMA retirement immediately after winning his trilogy match with Liddell, so maybe the money was good all around.

You do not start high or foolishly in attempting comebacks. That is why undefeated James Jeffries got knocked out trying to make a comeback against the successor heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson. Jeffries was broke, but even then, when he lost the weight and tried to return to his former form, he knew it was hopeless beyond a certain point. His reflexes and timing were too far removed. Tex Rickard, who organized the event, could not allow Jeffries to back out, stating he had too much money invested in the event already so it had to take place no matter the fighters or the outcome.

Liddell versus Ortiz III would be like Muhammad Ali fighting Joe Frazier a fourth time ten years after they both retired. Liddell had lost six of his last seven MMA bouts in the last 11 years, and was unable to finish an MMA bout in over 10 years without getting stopped or knocked out. Five of Liddell’s last seven bouts were knockout losses, with two other bouts going to a decision. The California State Athletic Commission should be running more detailed CTE scans and advanced running skills and reaction scans before both licensing older fighters, and approving older fighters into boxing and MMA bouts.

Liddell versus Ortiz III was sort of like Larry Holmes coming out of retirement to fight Anthony Joshua It doesn’t make sense. Does anybody really want to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. return to the ring to fight the winner of Mikey Garcia versus Errol Spence Jr Both would love the money a Floyd bout would bring. Truth be told, the public would want to see the outcome, no matter how one-sided it would be.

On October 4, 2008, last minute substitute Seth Petruzelli TKOed the late Kimbo Slice in EliteXC: Heat in only 14 seconds after taking the overhyped street fighter down. A fact long overlooked in the CBS hype was that the then 44-year-old Ken Shamrock, who had been TKOed in his previous five MMA bouts in the preceding three years, who was the originally scheduled opponent for Slice-until Shamrock sustained a cut left eye in training.

Liddell versus Ortiz III. should not have been allowed, with the average of the two fighters at 46 years of age. Given how damaging MMA wars can be cumulative to experienced veterans, Liddell’s indefinite suspension imposed should send a clear warning of what should or should not be allowed. For example, Deontay Wilder versus Tyson Fury, two undefeated heavyweight champions in their prime battling each other this weekend, is a true legitimate modern day USA Showtime version of the late Rocky Marciano versus the late Muhammad Ali Super Fight filmed in 1969.

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Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert is the Head Boxing Correspondent for Real Combat Media Boxing since 2013. Robert is also a photographer and ringside reporter for the RCM Tri State region which includes NJ, NY and PA. Robert conducts exclusive interviews, provides historical boxing articles and provides editorial ringside coverage of major boxing events. You can contact or follow Robert on Facebook and by email at robertbrizel@realcombatmedia.com.