An Open Letter To Chuck Liddell

MMA

Dear Chuck Liddell,

 

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I recently re-watched your fight with Vitor Belfort. With both of you in the news this past week, I felt it was fitting fight to take in. 

 

The fight was closer than I remembered. Highlight reels and Joe Rogan's commentary have you believe that the decision was 30-25 in your favor. That's not true. Your knockdown in the final 90 seconds sealed the bout for you, but Belfort was very much in the fight and never looked overwhelmed. I think people misremember the bout because it was Belfort's return to the UFC and everyone expected him to blitz you like he did in his last UFC bout against Wanderlei Silva. When that didn't happen, everyone assumed you picked him apart and dominated him for 15-minutes. 

 

Belfort was 25 at the time of the fight. He's 41 now and has lost four of his last five fights by (T)KO. Sure, one was changed to a no contest, but the damage he received was not overturned. 

 

You retired when you were 40, having lost five of you last six, with four coming via (T)KO. Now, you're 48. And you want to fight again.

 

Please don't.

 

You're my favorite fighter of all-time and a big reason why I fell in love with the sport. I'll never forget the feeling of joy I had when you KO'd Tito Ortiz the first time. Or the second time. Your fight with Wanderlei Silva is still my favorite fight ever. Nothing will change that. The emotional investment I had in that fight can't be replicated because I don't have that kind of attachment to any fighter in 2018.

 

Sports fans typically get attached to a team over a player. Sure, we'll love certain players on our team more than others and we may continue to follow that players career if they move on. But that's the point. Oftentimes, players move on. Whether they are traded, leave via free agency, or just retire. Players don't stick around forever. But teams do. Most of the time. 

 

In MMA, you get attached to the player. And the pain you feel following a loss is far worse than the pain felt if your sports team loses. Watching your team miss a game-winning shot sucks, but it's better than seeing your favorite fighter getting knocked unconscious. 

 

I was at UFC 88 as a fan. I've never gone back to re-watch your fight with Rashad Evans. I've seen the KO a million times because it's on every highlight reel. But I've never re-watched the whole fight. I can't bring myself to re-live my lowest point as a MMA fan. 

 

In basketball, when a player gets old, it's sad. Watching Michael Jordan in the Wizards years, without the same lift and athleticism wasn't all that fun. But what was the worst thing that happened to him? His team missed the playoffs. 

 

In fighting, when a fighter gets old, it's detrimental to their health. Watching your last few fights was painful. Your reflexes weren't the same and your chin was shot. You didn't miss the playoffs. You may have suffered severe long term brain damage.

 

I can't watch that happen again.

 

P.S. If you're going to fight again, which you shouldn't do, don't fight Tito Ortiz.

 

Signed, Jeremy Lambert 

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