Liddell finished in UFC

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Chuck Liddell has fought his last UFC fight.

MMA's first superstar, who helped catapult the niche sport to the mainstream, retired from the Octagon following his KO loss to Mauricio (Shogun) Rua before 21,000 fans at UFC 97 the Bell Centre Saturday night. It was Liddell's fourth loss in five fights.

"That was probably the last one," said Liddell in a post-fight news conference early yesterday.

"I want to take the next couple of days, go home and talk to my friends, and right now, go for some drinks. But that was probably it."

UFC president Dana White, who had earlier said Liddell needed to "impress" in this fight in order to keep his job, was more direct.

"Chuck Liddell is a loyal friend of mine and a business partner. He was with me when I first started out in mixed martial arts, and I won't let him fight again," said White, who once served as Liddell's manager in the 1990s.

"There is no mystery -- this is the end of an era. You're never gonna see him on a canvas again. It's over."

The former light-heavyweight champion leaves the sport with a 21-7 record and a vault of highlight-reel knockouts to rival any fighter.

White said he spoke with Liddell months ago about retiring, but the California-native wanted one last chance to prove himself.

"How could I say no to a guy who's done so much for the sport?" White said.

"But, hey, even Michael Jordan turns 40."

Liddell was the main marketing machine for the UFC as it transitioned to larger pay-per-view audiences and international noteriety.

His menacing mohawk, ice-cold demeanor and loopy right hand made him the most popular MMA star of his time.

Liddell will be best remembered for his three battles against Randy (The Natural) Couture and his ongoing feud with Tito (The Huntington Beach Bad Boy) Ortiz.

He beat each of them twice.

His win over the legendary Couture at UFC 57 forced Couture into retirement for the first time. But his spate of losses exposed his tendency for being KO'd. Three of his last four losses saw the knockout artist flat on the canvas.

The original coach on Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter, Liddell has served as an inspiration for younger fighters.

But rumours dogged Liddell following his title loss two years ago against Quinton (Rampage) Jackson that began his descent, and his partying has become legendary.


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