Chuck should not fight. But if he insists on it, and his management still wants to say he’s top of the line, this is what you do: call their bluff. Publicly offer them a fight with Anderson Silva at 205 as their comeback fight. On the upside:
– It’s a main event fight which soaks up a month of promotion that needs a main event.
– It’s a big payday for Anderson Silva, which may stop him from complaining about money so much.
– You know exactly who’s going to win, so you can make plans around that eventuality.
– It may help make a bigger star out of Silva.
– It’ll be quick, and therefor likely to do as little damage to the should-be-retired Liddell as possible; it’ll also likely be so definitive as to keep him retired from this point on.
– It won’t be a bad fight.
– If Anderson Silva wants to fight at 205 but won’t fight Machida, this is a way to keep him busy and make money with him without letting him get the kind of wins which make a title shot inevitable, or the lack of one a joke.
– It’ll probably be such a one-sided tragedy that it may turn fans on Silva, leaving them angry at him for humiliating Liddell.
Alternate idea: Tito Ortiz. It’s got the same big-fight-and-we-probably-know-the-winner stuff going for it, although it has the disadvantage of potentially hurting Tito if he walks into something unexpected which Silva would never do. On the other hand, hey, if Chuck wins maybe you get another big money fight out of him, which is great if you’re trying to get him killed.
Secondary alternate idea: Wanderlei Silva. I suspect negotiations for this one are already semi-active. Would probably be a good fight and might help whoever wins, but it’s frankly disgraceful on humanitarian grounds.
Tertiary alternate idea: Jon Jones. A win gets Jones’ name out there and maybe makes a minor star out of him, a loss doesn’t kill him, he doesn’t hit hard enough to badly injure Chuck (probably), and he’s low enough on the totem pole so that if Chuck loses to him it’s hard to claim he’s still a top guy who should still be fighting. If Chuck wins, you can sacrifice him to a top fighter next time out and still get two buyrates out of the thing, if you don’t care about his health and well-being.
One thing I would NOT have anything to do with which I’ve seen mooted is Forrest Griffin vs. Chuck. Forrest’s confidence is clearly shattered for the moment, he’s hittable, and if Chuck has anything left it’ll be his power. Chuck might beat him, and that’s an outcome which seriously hurts Forrest while doing nothing for UFC except getting them one more show out of Chuck before he gets immolated by any of the top 205 guys. It doesn’t even really help Chuck much, since if he wins he’ll keep fighting and get killed by someone else, and if he loses it’ll probably be either quick and humiliating, or long and agonizing which might injure him and worse might not convince him that he’s really done yet. And a win doesn’t even rehab Forrest much; a lot of people will still say he beat a shot fighter, and it won’t seriously enhance his marketability. No new star is created or money match built; it’s a booking dead end.
Bottom line is, Chuck should not be fighting. His decline isn’t so much skills-based as it is athletic- he’s slower than he ever used to be and can’t take a punch, and at 39 you don’t come back from that. But if he insists on fighting then UFC should either give him a fight which might make a new star, or else give him a fight which is likely to be a career capstone for Liddell win or lose; Tito or Wanderlei probably serve that purpose best. What really has to be avoided is a fight where a loss won’t convince Liddell that he’s done, and a win hurts his opponent badly as a drawing card while convincing Chuck that he really is still a top guy who should keep fighting.
If Dana comes out on a stage Friday and just says “our first ESPN live event will feature Brock vs. Fedor and Tito vs. Rich Franklin, on January 2nd” I can’t say I’d be surprised at this point. The rumors are THICK out there, and denials are conspicuously thin on the ground.
Way too much happening today. From Dana White’s Twitter:
“I am going on espn 1100 in vegas at 6pm. I will be talking anything mma. Call in number is 702 364 1100! Oh yea and welcome back tito :)29 minutes ago from TwitterBerry ”
Safe to assume that Tito’s back as well, I suppose- where else was he really going to go, anyway? The rich get richer, and the UFC stays just ahead of the danger of having more shows than stars to headline them. Since I’m having decent luck guessing UFC booking of late (Bisping vs. Wanderlei is supposedly in the works), let’s guess… Tito vs. Luiz Cane.
The amazing thing is, in an MMA market with exactly 2 serious domestic outlets and only one which pays at top top level, Tito has bullshat and bollux’ed his way to a position where there’s legitimate public interest about where he’ll go and who he’ll fight- this from a guy coming off major back surgery who’s clearly on the downside of his career. All you can do is salute the guy; he knows business. And I’d be lying if I said that, say, him vs. Rich Franklin at UFC 103 didn’t make me more interested in that show.