May 20, 2009

John Hackleman is still angry about the things UFC president DanaWhite has said about him in the saga of ChuckLiddell's possible retirement.

He regrets, however, that his role in the debate has upset his longtime student and friend.

"Chuck truly cares about us and we care about him," Hackleman told "I don't like doing this."

"The Pit" owner/trainer prompted a verbal offensive from the UFC president after he asserted Liddell would choose when to stop fighting. White made the unprecedented decision to retire the former light heavyweight champion following his loss to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 97.

Amongst many claims, White said Hackleman was just looking for another payday from his fighter.

"Hack" disputed the interpretation in several interviews, and believes a "brain scramble" led White to lash out.

"You can never find my quote that says I want Chuck to fight again," he said. "My quote says he does have another fight on his contract, and I don't think Dana should be the one telling him when to quit; I think Chuck will tell us when he's going to retire. I never once said 'I want Chuck to fight.' All I wanted was for Chuck to do what's in Chuck's heart, whether that's fight or retire."

It's been a month since White's announcement, and Liddell has yet to fully commit to the career change. He recently told he wanted to stay out of the fray.

Hackleman says his relationship with White has always been rocky.

"I hate that Dana and I can't get along, and we're always fighting," said Hackleman. "We have in the past, and we've tried to make up for Chuck, because it really bothers Chuck. I've reached out to Dana, and I've tried to call him many times."

Unfortunately, past efforts have not been successful.

"I've only got so many numbers," he continued. "I'm sorry for my part and I'm sure Dana is too; we just seem to rub each other the wrong way."

A trip to Hawaii in late June will go on as planned, says Hackleman, where the two will bond without the pressure of making a decision.

"We're just going to go there and hang out," he said. "Maybe he will decide, maybe he won't. There's no rush. He's a young 39, and he can decide when he's going to retire from fighting. Either way, I'm behind him."

If Liddell chooses to retire, Hackleman wants Liddell to step into a bigger coaching role with the fighters of "The Pit."

"I would lean towards we're done," said Hackleman. "I always said I'd rather Chuck retire and help me run the gym. It's much better that way."

White told MMAWeekly the shape of Liddell's retirement is still being worked on. He has assured fans and media that "The Iceman" will continue to work for the UFC, albeit in a non-fighting capacity.

Hackleman says he will continue to reach out to White, and keep the lines of communication open.

"I'll try to call him again for Chuck's good, because Chuck does not like this," the trainer stressed. "He doesn't think it's funny, he doesn't think it's cute. It would be better if we all got along. If I got a call from him, I'd love to make it up. I don't like being misquoted and put down."

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