Is Switching Camps, Retirement, Or A Third Option The Answer For Liddell?

Bryan TraffordSenior Analyst ISeptember 9, 2008

Recently, an article on one of my favorite MMA websites left me scratching my head. The guy that wrote this piece is off base on this one, even though I think most fans will agree with him. If you haven't read it or don't read fiveouncesofpain, here is the link.

In this article the writer suggests that Liddell simply needs to switch camps, keep his hands up and hire a good Muay Thai instructor. While I agree that those changes made about three years ago would have helped him tremendously, I doubt they will do much at this point.

Chuck is 38 years old, soon to be 39. He has shown a slow and steady decline in his balance, handspeed, and reflexes. While keeping his hands up more might have kept him on his feet Saturday night, I doubt that would have won him the fight. Rashad still would have evaded most of Chucks punches, and still would have had the much quicker hands on the inside.

What about the Muay Thai? Well that would help to improve Chuck's overall game, and would most likely help to prolong his career a tad, but the more pressing question is who can Chuck beat at this point?

Lets say for the sake of argument that Chuck switches camps, corrects his wide stance and habits of dropping his hands when punching and picks up a decent clinch.

Could he then beat Rashad in a rematch? I doubt it seriously. Rashad is getting better with each fight, and is in his athletic prime. He will still be able to time Chuck and get out of the way before Chuck can answer.

Could he beat Machida? I doubt it. Hell I doubt he could even put hands on Machida. If he couldn't deal with Evans fancy footwork and feints, Machida will make easy work of him. I doubt he could take Machida down either.

Could he beat Rampage? Not in a million years. I know Rampage caught him with his hands down with a perfect counter, ala Evans, but don't forget they fought years earlier in Pride. Chuck was a lot closer to his prime then, and got mauled. At 38 a Muay Thai instructor is not gonna be able to overcome the natural advantages Rampage has over him.

Could he beat Griffin? Before the Evans fight, I thought he had a shot. Now I doubt it as much as any of the other fighters I named. Griffin can and will employ a hit and run style against Chuck, and unless Chuck can keep this fight on the ground where Griffin is still dangerous, I see Griffin peppering him all night with leg kicks and combos.

So who can he beat with this new camp?

I may have the answer to that. I think if Chuck continues and all signs are saying he will at this point, its time for him to start the Senior's tour, so to speak.

The perfect comeback opponent for a "newly rededicated" Chuck would be Mark Coleman. That's a guy a lot closer to his age that he could show off his new Muay Thai or ground skills against. Or he could simply stand with him and show his improved defense where he keeps his hands high. Either way should be an easy win for him.

After that he could move up to heavyweight to fight Couture after Couture gets thrashed by Lesnar(my pick) While Chuck has two out of three in that series, they have never fought at heavyweight so that would be a selling point for this fight.

Last but not least lets remember that Tito is still out there as a free agent. It would only take one win with a new camp to convince casual fans Chuck is back. If the UFC brought Tito back in, he could immediately start bashing Chuck and saying he was brought in to retire Chuck once and for all. Its the perfect fight for both fighters.Chuck could retire with a win over his most heated nemesis, and if Tito won, he can say he finally got over the hump against Chuck and is ready to contend again.

Either way, Chuck's days as a title contender are over. So maybe if the answer for Chuck isn't retirement as I suggest, maybe it's the Senior's tour.