It's sad to see a legend of any sport leave on someone else's terms, but it happens so often that we've become accustomed to it. Boxing gives us the best examples. No matter how hard they try, aging boxers always believe the next time out will be their glorious comeback. They'll knock out their opponent and inject new life into their career. Chuck Liddell had those same dreams going into his fight with Mauricio Rua at UFC 97. Knock this guy out and everyone will shut up about retirement.
The fight had all the energy of Liddell's best, as he got the loudest ovation I've ever heard from a crowd. Even a megastar like Liddell had to be blown away by it. The 1st Round was back and forth with both fighters having their moments until Liddell pawed his left hand out and Rua clobbered him with a left of his own. Initially the stoppage seemed quick, until you saw Liddell get up and ask Mario Yamasaki, "What happened?"
Dana White has already declared the career of Liddell to be over. Liddell himself seems resigned to it. After the fight he was worn out and anything but defiant. Will we ever see him fight again? Probably. It would certainly not be the first time a fighter called it quits only to return later. For all the punishment Liddell has taken lately, his mind is still sharp. It's hard to believe he will go quietly without at least coming back one more time to hear the fans go nuts when he enters the cage. Stuff like that is tough to totally give up on. For now, it appears he will forget about fighting for awhile and listen to White's declaration. This time next year, though, I foresee a return and an even bigger ovation for the sport's biggest star.