Chuck Liddell: Why We Haven't Seen the Last of Him

Nate DoubleAnalyst IApril 19, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 07:  UFC fighter Chuck Liddell arrives for Tony Hawk's Proving Ground Stand Up For Skateparks event at a private residence on October 07, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

Ask any retiree and they'll likely tell you that retirement is overrated.  Sure, some retirees transition from the daily grind to the golf course rather easily, but by and large they miss the action.

This is especially true for professional athletes who often perform for the love of their respective sports more so than for the love of the paychecks they stopped needing long ago.

The difficulty of retirement is sometimes compounded for athletes because they think they've still got what it takes to compete.  Sometimes they're right.

Michael Jordan, Randy Couture, and Roger Clemens all proved they had what it took to win even after they "laced up" for the last time.

I think Chuck Liddell may join their ranks.

While Liddell may have lost to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 97, he wasn't humiliated or outclassed. 

For the first four minutes, the fight was essentially a draw.  Shogun connected with kicks and punches and had a successful take down.  Liddell also struck with kicks and punches and had a successful take down.

The fight was actually going in Liddell's favor just before he got knocked out.  Liddell shrugged off a take down attempt, countered with some nice punches as he pushed Rua against the fence, and took Shogun down with just under a minute to go.

The biggest issue Liddell was facing, until that point, was that Rua was connecting with most of his overhand punches.  Liddell, true to form, kept his big right hand loaded as he stalked around the cage.

No official announcement regarding retirement has been made by either Liddell or his camp, though Dana White has been very vocal about this being Liddell's last fight.

However, I think what Chuck could benefit from most is some time off to continue training and diversify his game. 

As we've seen lately, the one dimensional fighter no longer has a place in the upper echelons of MMA, especially the packed light heavyweight division of the UFC.

With other stars on the rise but no real pay-per-view juggernaut besides Brock Lesnar on the roster, a "reborn" Liddell could very easily find himself welcomed back to competition, like Randy Couture.

If we've learned anything, it's that retirement is never final in the UFC.