(above : an incoherent public figure who’s worn out his welcome. And on the left, Chuck Liddell)
Former UFC fixture Chuck Liddell lost 4 of his last 5 fights before being put out to pasture by fed prez Dana White who said last May, ” I care about these guys. I don’t want to see anybody stick around too long. You’re never going to see Chuck Liddell on the canvas again.” Said noble declaration was made however, months before Brock Lesnar went on the shelf with a mystery illness (since diagnosed as a hole in the former WWE champion’s intestine). After a retirement slightly longer than Allen Iverson’s, Liddell is booked to return to the Octagon versus longtime nemesis Tito Ortiz, a pairing that has Tim Marchman observing, “If the test of virtue is what you do when it might actually cost you something, White failed.”
Like boxing, mixed martial arts is not quite a legitimate sport. Under the matchmaking model, key fights are made not necessarily because they do something to prove who the best fighters are, but because they seem likely to do the most business. It’s an issue; as top welterweight Jon Fitch said recently ‘You don’t see the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl just because it might sell more tickets than the Colts vs. Patriots would.’
MMA isn’t a pure sport and that’s fine; if not for the odd freak show fight like Liddell vs. Ortiz III or the odd unaccountably popular bum like Kimbo Slice, there wouldn’t be nearly as much money as there is for fighters like Fitch. Hard won respectability is premised on the idea that UFC is a proving ground for the best fighters in the world and not a more respectable form of pro wrestling, though, and thery’re straying near a boundary with some of these moves. More troubling is that at the first sign of a business downturn, the move is made to bring out the freaks. They’ll make money, but possibly at the expense of something even harder to earn and even easier to lose.