Chuck Liddell retires from fighting

Updated: December 30, 2010, 1:47 PM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- After months of indecisiveness, former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell officially announced his retirement Wednesday.

Liddell took the podium at a news conference seconds after UFC president Dana White broke the news to reporters and fans in the lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

It was a very difficult decision for the 41-year-old Liddell, who struggled for months to figure out what his next move should be.

After Rich Franklin knocked Liddell out in the first round on June 12, White vowed to not promote another Liddell fight. It was the third fight in a row that Liddell suffered a knockout.

[+] EnlargeChuck Liddell
Josh Hedges/Getty ImagesChuck Liddell announces his retirement from fighting at the UFC 125 news conference Wednesday at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino Las Vegas.

But Liddell refused to announce his retirement, preferring instead to say he was taking time off.

The past couple of months, Liddell began giving serious consideration to never stepping into the Octagon again as a fighter. With the support of those closest to him, Liddell concluded it was time to call it a career. "I've been fighting for a long time," Liddell told ESPN.com. "I talked to my family and friends about it. In this last fight [against Franklin], it seemed I wasn't able to take a shot like I used to. And I just haven't been able to put together wins.

"If I can't compete with the best or if I'm not fighting for a title, then I have nothing to prove."

While Liddell's days as a fighter appear over, he will remain active in UFC. White introduced Liddell as the promotion's vice president of business development.

That White would offer Liddell an executive position in UFC comes as little surprise. The two have worked together professionally for many years.

"Chuck Liddell has been with us from day one," White told ESPN.com. "And before that I managed him. We've been together for, like, 13 years. "He's probably going to be doing a lot of stuff with the legislation, the sanctioning end and other forms of business development. And he will be traveling to other countries with [UFC CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta]."

Liddell began his mixed martial arts career under the UFC banner in May 1998. He defeated Noe Hernandez by unanimous decision.

A former Division I wrestler at California Polytechnic State University, Liddell would fight 28 more times, compiling a 21-8-0 record.

Thirteen of Liddell's wins came via knockout. It was his aggressive, power-punching style that endeared him to fight fans and led to the nickname "Iceman."

But in the past three years, Liddell too often found himself on the receiving end of punches. He lost five of his last six fights. In four of those losses, Liddell failed to make it out of the second round.

Despite the recent setbacks, Liddell never lost his desire to compete. Even after the announcement, he found it difficult to completely shut the door on his fighting career.

"This is a hard thing for me, making this decision to retire," Liddell said. "It's all I've ever done. I've been competing in martial arts since I was a kid. But this position [VP of business development] gives me a new goal, something to work toward. Maybe it will keep the itch [to fight again] away.

"I'm pretty sure this is it. It took me a long time to make this decision. I don't like making promises, but I'm pretty solid on this."

Franklin McNeil covers mixed martial arts and boxing for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live," which airs on ESPN2. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.