Credit to smoogy on the UG.
I know. It’s a funny picture. If you’re a Shogun Rua fan, the memory of the Iceman laying melted in a puddle is probably a positive one. Today, we were told that this image wouldn’t be repeating itself, as Chuck Liddel announced his retirement and subsequent ascent to VP of business development for Zuffa. No sleeping on the job, Chuck.
Every athlete that holds on for too long and ends up leaving a lot of fans with memories of futility instead of success will forever be compared to those that did it in the past. Jerry Rice as a slow Seahawk, Willie Mays as a hobbled Met, Brett Favre as a sexually explicit Jet and feeble Viking. The numbers, however, speak for themselves. Chuck had one of the longest, most consistently difficult winning streaks in MMA during the last decade. He went 2-1 against Randy Couture, knocking him out of the weight division and out of the cage itself for a time. He twice KO’ed Babalu and Tito Ortiz at the height of their powers. However, Rampage proved to be his stylistic nemesis, taking his belt after derailing his PRIDE run, before Chuck lost a close split decision to Keith Jardine’s awkward leg kicks.
He won the much-delayed (and finally facilitated by the death of PRIDE) superfight against Wanderlei Silva in a fight that seemed to sap what was left of his chin for future bouts. He was outpaced and ultimately coldcocked by an ascending Rashad Evans, dropped his guard just enough for Shogun to plug him, and was a mere ten seconds away from a doctor-awarded TKO victory over Rich Franklin (by virtue of having broken his arm earlier in the round) before succumbing to his killer instinct and leaving himself open.
I’ll remember both of these things when I remember Chuck Liddell. The fact that his last three losses came to two guys on their way to the belt and another truly great fighter. His amazing streak in defense of the LHW belt. Knowing what was coming when he fought and being excited when it happened anyway. Playing as him over and over and over again on the first PS3 Undisputed demo. Most of all, I’ll remember the desire to finish that marked both his wins and his losses. Hat tip to you, Chuck. You were a wrestler that used your wrestling so you could punch people in the face. And you were great at it.