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Dana White wants a strong showing from Chuck Liddell at UFC 97 or else

Despite being one of UFC President Dana White’s best friends, even three losses in his past four fights isn’t enough to provide former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell total immunity.

In a new interview with Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press, White goes so far as to essentially put his good friend on notice leading up to Liddell’s co-headlining bout vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua scheduled for UFC 97 on April 18 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.

“I’ve made it very clear to Chuck. Very clear,” White began to tell Davidson. “It’s not about money, it’s not about this, that. Chuck is one of my good friends. Chuck (has) cemented his legacy in the UFC and in the fight game. I’m not even saying if he wins, unless he looks incredibly impressive (in Montreal) – I mean, he’s going to have to go out there and dazzle me, for me to want Chuck to still fight.”

“I love him, and I don’t want to see what I saw in his last fight ever again,” he added.

Once considered the top light heavyweight in the world, Liddell began to see his immense stock drop following a TKO loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 71 in May of 2007. Jackson needed just one minute and 53 seconds to end Liddell’s four-fight title reign.

In what was perceived as nothing more than a showcase fight to bounce back following the disappointing loss to Jackson, Liddell was matched up with Keith Jardine a little over three months later at UFC 76. However, Jardine proved to be a difficult matchup for Liddell and utilized an array of leg kicks to win an upset split decision victory.

Liddell then rebounded at UFC 79 in December of that same year when he recorded a unanimous decision victory over Wanderlei Silva in a long-awaited dream match between the two 205 pound icons.

Unfortunately, Liddell’s comeback was short lived as he was knocked out in devastating fashion by Rashad Evans at UFC 88 this past September. Despite being 12-0-1 heading into the fight, Evans was still the clear cut underdog but appeared to have scouted Liddell well when he countered one of Liddell’s looping punches en route to a KO stoppage at 1:51 of round 2.

While White is claiming that money is not an issue, public records indicate that Liddell has been receiving a $500,000 guarantee for his past several fights. It is believed that Liddell easily makes over $1 million per fight due to the fact that his contract also includes a clause that entitles him to a percentage of pay-per-view sales.

While Liddell finds himself in a must-win situation, the UFC has matched him up with an opponent who has been just a big of a disappointment as Liddell in recent fights.

Once considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Rua has performed as one of the biggest busts in UFC history since signing a lucrative contract with Zuffa during the final days of the Japan-based PRIDE promotion.

Rua showed poor stamina during his UFC debut at UFC 76 against Forrest Griffin and tapped to a rear naked choke at 4:36 of round 3. Even if Rua had not been finished by Griffin, he was well on his way to suffering a decision defeat.

After requiring multiple knee surgeries, Rua was unable to compete for a year and a half. The 27-year old Brazilian native returned at UFC 93 this past January against 44-year old UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman. Both fighters gassed early in the fight and in spite of Rua’s youth, he was only able to finish Coleman with 24 seconds remaining in the contest.

While UFC officials awarded both fighters a “Fight of the Night” bonus, critics panned the bout and were extremely critical of Rua’s performance during the fight.

While a poor performance by Liddell could signal the end of his UFC career, the same could also likely be said for Rua.

20 COMMENTS
  • king mah mah says:

    I don’t know why a few losses in this sport automatically doom you to retirement. I know I know….. he got knocked out by Rampage and Rashad. AND! They are two of the best in the world right now! Someone has to lose. The Jardine fight was a split decision and Jardine just took Rampage the distance. Come on now, everybody matches up differently. Just because Dana “loves” him doesn’t mean he should retire if he loses again. Or even if he got knocked out again. How many times has Couture been knocked out now? Yep, he’s still fighting. All I’m saying is, it shouldn’t matter wheather or not Dana is friends with him or not. That shouldn’t be the deciding factor for his retirement.

    P.S. How many times has Liddell knocked other top contenders out? Plenty. Are they all retired? No.

  • KTru says:

    Where in this article did it have anything to do with Liddell retiring?

    When someone is in the business of making money, says to a degree its not about the money. Means its exactly about the money. The UFC cannot shell out 500k to the “Iceman” for anymore losses. Its quite simple, they are losing when he is losing. But instead for DW to come out and say we need to re-structure Chuck’s contract and/or get rid of the percentage of PPV buys, it is easier to state the obvious and say he is on high alert. Liddell knows this, he knows he has been a shell of his former self. So it makes sense. But Dana should not to come out and say its not about the money, because its all about the money.

  • king mah mah says:

    “Where did it have anything to do with Liddell Retiring?”

    Uh, well, look at the title of the article for one. “Dana White wants a strong showing from Liddell at UFC 97 or else”. What do you think “or else” means?

    Also Dana said that Chuck would have to dazzle him for him to want Chuck to fight again.

    Those are both hinting at his retirement, are they not?

  • wardog says:

    Dana is just saying what alot of people on message boards have been saying. Alot of people think Chuck is done. I am not one of them. He lost 3 fights! I was not impressed by Evans stoppage of him considering Rashad had no other offense except that one punch. Chuck seems to be changing his game up, a game plan mind you that got him the LHW title and gave him a 21-6 record. Other fighers finally caught on, it happens. Now he needs to come back and KO a few people! I really hope he makes everyone including Dana eat their words! Also wouldn’t it be funny if he won the belt back and left for Affliction or something?

  • Texwatson says:

    Your on notice Liddell, I love the fact that Dana is now putting people on notice. I would love to see Chuck pubically fired, I feel that he has lost his drive and refuses to improve, he is banking on his legacy and we all know that MMA is a what have you done for me lately business, time to retire Chuck hang it up and impress twenty somethings with your stories of yesteryear

  • Jstew3785 says:

    I don’t really care who wins out of Liddell and Shogun, I just want to see both of these guys get back on track. I’m fans of both guys and it sucks seeing them like this. Hopefully they can go out there and have it out and impress the hell out of everyone. I don’t think Liddell is finished, but it’s obvious he is in the latter stages of his career. I think it’s a little ridiculous to talk about cutting him after 1 KO loss.

  • Cathedron says:

    I don’t think he’s “on notice” to be dropped by the UFC, but it’s White’s way of saying Chuck’s going to have to take a major pay cut in order to stay.

  • Texwatson says:

    I really don’t think he will get fired either, I was only making a joke in the last post. I do think he will get a healthy dose of humble pie and take a huge paycut and maybe have to fight on the undercard

  • KTru says:

    Hint of retiring means “or else” to you?
    Why would it not mean he would be let go from the UFC?
    So everything that Dana implied means he has total control on Liddell and that means his only option is to retire?
    Liddell cannot fight for another promotion?

    Nowhere in this article, the title included, does the word “retire” appear. You can assume that, for that is “your” opinion. Just remember the first three letters “assume” can lead you to be one of these.

    As for Rashad had one lucky punch? Get back to me when you have seen enough MMA to have an opinion. Scouted, game-planned , and well-timed was the reason for that outcome.

  • Jackyl says:

    I really disagree with some of the things Dana has been saying before a lot of these fights. Things like “putting fighters on notice” can change the whole mental makeup of a fighter. It’s the same thing with guaranteeing title shots. It puts unwarranted pressure on the fighters to say these things right before their fights. It happened with Kendall Grove. Now it’s happening with Liddell. Not to mention it’s pretty dumb to guarantee a title shot when you don’t even know if the winner is going to be in condition to fight like with the Rampage situation. These things should be kept private or at least discussed during the post fight press conferences.

  • KTru says:

    Looks like it helped Grove, imo.
    He finished the fight with strikes. That is all you gotta say for a little fire under their proverbial asses, then I am for it.
    And maybe Liddell needs a lil kick in the rear. Chuck has been around long enough to not let the “mental” stuff be an issue.
    DW was also not the one who guaranteed any title shot. He came out on the post-fight conference saying “Not so fast on anything”.

  • Jackyl says:

    Right. He said that at the post fight press conference. But prior to the fight and all during the broadcast it was made perfectly clear that if Rampage won he would get the title shot. My point is that he shouldn’t be putting undue pressure on a fighter before the fight. Let the fighter go out there and do their thing and let the chips fall where they may.

  • Texwatson says:

    Chuck needs to train with top level guys who can push him, the Pit is his home but it may be time to train with some other camps as well, Greg Jackson could do Chuck a world of good, train with guys like GSP who will push your cardio and allow you to expand your game

  • Angry Mike says:

    It may be time for Chuck to rethink his style, or at least his game plan for fights. It’s no secret that he moves laterally waiting for the chance, usually on a counter, to land a ko punch. That’s also been Rampage’s game plan, and it contributed to his loss to Forrest and lackluster performance against Jardine. They both need to diversify their attacks. Training with somebody like Jackson might give him the change up that he needs.

  • Brandon says:

    Money talks, if Chuck can still sell PPV then Dana will always find a place for him. Hell if Dana can bring back Elvis Sinosic after all those losses then I’m pretty sure he can find room for Chuck.

    Plus the moment Chuck enters free agency, Affliction / Strike Force will scoop him up in a second and gain a tonne of new fans.

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    “Plus the moment Chuck enters free agency, Affliction / Strike Force will scoop him up in a second and gain a tonne of new fans.”

    Chuck will never get cut. If anything, he retires. I guarantee Chuck Liddell never fights outside the UFC.

    You know what I mean.

  • Cathedron says:

    This is really all just Dana’s way of hyping this fight. It makes the fight seem more important than it really is. Neither fighter is up for a title shot anytime soon based on their past performances, so this fight would barely matter except that now everyone thinks Chuck’s career is on the line. If Chuck loses, he makes less money per fight (like that would bankrupt him). If Rua loses (which I think he will), he’ll probly just drop to 185 where he would be able to get a title shot with only one or two wins (though he may also be looking at a pay cut). Neither fighter is in danger of having their kids starve. As was mentioned above, the UFC isn’t going to drop either one anytime soon since their competitors would kill to have them.

  • king mah mah says:

    @ KTru- Hey that old assume saying is really old, you’re not clever for using it. You also know damn well there was hints of Liddell’s retirement all over this article. Because you and I both know Liddell isn’t going to fight outside of the UFC. If he’s done there then he’s done period. Even the last statement of this article said another loss could signal the end of Liddell’s UFC career and I highly doubt he would ever fight anywhere else.

  • GetItOn says:

    Chuck could very well retire and he could very well fight for another organization. That’s up to Chuck. Dana has no control in that except that Chuck has to fulfill his contractual obligations with the UFC. Anything is possible. Remember this is MMA.

  • Elder says:

    I dont see Chuck leaving the UFC and i dont see DW sending him out the door. He is still a big cash cow for the organization. I hope Chuck reterns to form but if he keeps loosing i say its tome to restructure that contract.

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