April 19, 2009
Retirement in combat sports is a little different than in other sports. There is no vacillating about whether the game has passed the fighter by, as football fans watched Brett Favre do for years, because the proof is in the pudding. Quite often, the fighter is retired by another fighter. Sometimes, like with boxer Rocky Marciano, they will leave when still flawless, and won't stick around until their skills fade. But if you're the kind of guy or gal who likes to get punched in the face for a living, chances are you will hold onto your spot in the cage until someone rips it out of your hands.
This is what made Chuck Liddell's loss to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua so painful to watch. It wasn't just that Liddell was moving a touch more slowly, or that he was knocked out in the same exact fashion as he was in three of his four previous fights. It was that moment after the fight, when he spoke to Joe Rogan and you could see the look in his eyes. He knew that his spot in the cage had been taken out of his hands. This warrior who we have watched for years knew he was a warrior no more.
But this loss, and all of his previous losses, does not diminish what he has accomplished in mixed martial arts. He ends with 21 wins, 14 of which came from knockouts and submissions. He fought in 22 different UFC events, starting with UFC 17 in 1998. Liddell was the first superstar of MMA, the first household name in the sport.
Liddell is the favorite fighter of so many fans. With his retirement, we ask you to share your favorite Chuck memories in the comments. Please keep it positive; this is a space to honor Liddell's long and storied career.
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