The outcome of the main event of Golden Boy MMA’s debut event should not surprise anyone. At age 48, former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell returned to the cage for his first fight since 2010. He was originally forced out of the sport by UFC president Dana White due to all the brutal knockout losses he suffered before the end of his career, but after eight years away he was hungry to fight again, and he found a willing foe in Tito Ortiz and a willing promoter in Oscar De La Hoya.
But the fight did not go well for Liddell. After a series of open workout where Liddell appeared to be significantly slower, that poor performance showed up in the cage as his hand speed was slower than it’s ever been and he could barely move his feet. After getting knocked out twice by Liddell back in the golden days of MMA in the mid-to-early 2000s, Ortiz got revenge against Liddell in the trilogy as he brutally finished him with punches in the first round. It was rough to see Liddell get knocked out yet again in such devastating fashion.
Liddell has now been knocked out in four straight fights to Ortiz, Rich Franklin, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Rashad Evans, and he was also knocked out by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson prior to the losing skid that originally ended his career. His lone win in the last decade was a decision win over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79 back in 2007.
At this point, Liddell’s chin cannot take a shot and at age 48 there’s no reason to think his chin is going to get any better. Getting brutally knocked out by a guy like Ortiz who has very few legitimate knockout wins on his resume is the icing on the cake. Or, it should be.
Following the loss, Ortiz said he hopes Liddell continues to fight in Golden Boy MMA, and Liddell himself said he is still open to competing again. But my argument would be, why? Why would Liddell subject himself to yet another knockout? Why would De La Hoya promote another fight with a guy who clearly cannot take a shot anymore? And why would the commission clear Liddell to fight again after how bad he looked against Ortiz?
It was questionable enough that Liddell passed his pre-fight tests and fought Ortiz, but after seeing how brutally he was finished, there’s no way he should ever step into the cage again. It would be wrong to see him try and fight again.
There are few fighters that I respect more than Liddell. He is one of the greatest fighters of all time and helped put MMA on the map back in the dark ages when it wasn’t considered by many to be a sport. But it’s 2018 now. Liddell’s chin disappeared over a decade ago and there’s no reason to believe it will ever come back. At this point, it’s extremely dangerous to let him ever compete again. Fighters are stubborn and it’s hard for them to know when to hang their gloves up. We all thought Liddell did just so back in 2010, but he had the itch to come back and fight again. Great, he got his chance to compete and hopefully the itch is gone now.
There’s no reason he should ever be cleared to fight again and De La Hoya and Golden Boy shouldn’t offer him another fight. It’s hard to see such a respected legend of the sport tarnish his legacy by refusing to quit when he should. Liddell is one of the GOATs of MMA, but his career was over long ago.