LinkWhen legendary UFC light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell enters the Octagon this Saturday he may do so for the last time in his historic career.
Liddell (21-7), who once ruled the division for nearly four years, will square off against former middleweight champion Rich Franklin in what would have been a dream battle just a few years back. As it stands, the contest pits two fighters at a crossroads.
For the 35-year-old Franklin, a loss would spell his second in a row, and seriously impede his status as a contender at light-heavyweight. For the 39-year-old Liddell however, the stakes are a bit higher, as a loss would likely result in the end of his career according to UFC President Dana White.
"Yes, and I think he will say the same thing," White responded when asked if a Liddell loss would result in his permanent retirement. "But let me tell you what the difference is - the difference before, when I wanted him retired, was that he wasn't doing the right thing. He was out partying every night and doing the wrong thing not the right thing. He wasn't living the life of a professional athlete.
White has known and worked with Liddell for much of his professional life. In fact, he managed the former champion early on in his career, and remains very close to Liddell on a personal level. After Liddell's most recent loss, a first-round knockout at the hands of current UFC light-heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, the two had a mini-summit on the status of Liddell's career with Liddell giving assurances to mend his ways in order to continue competing at the highest level of the sport.
"He and I sat down and talked, and I will tell you what, he has kept his word," White told Fighters' Only. "He has been in phenomenal shape since the beginning of "The Ultimate Fighter" and it will be interesting to see how he does because Rick Franklin is tough, he is no joke. He had that war with Dan Henderson that many people believe he won, he had the war with Wanderlei Silva - he has fought all the best in the world."