Although he all but handed Chuck Liddell a gold watch following the former UFC light heavyweight champion's devastating TKO loss at the hands of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, UFC president Dana White took a step back from the retirement talk on Saturday night ... sort of.
At the UFC 97 post-fight press conference, following the Liddell's loss to Shogun, White stated, "At the end of the day, I care about these guys. I don't want to see anybody stick around too long. You're never going to see Chuck Liddell on the canvas again."
The loss was Liddell's fourth in his last five starts, three of those losses by way of knockout or TKO, after all.
During the telecast for The Ultimate Fighter Team U.S.A. vs. Team U.K. Finale, White was asked about Liddell's pending retirement, to which he answered, "I'm not his father, he can do whatever the hell he wants to do. I'm his friend and I care about him a lot, and I'd never like to see him fight again."
Much more subdued than his seemingly definitive statement after UFC 97.
For his part, Liddell has never fully committed to the idea of retiring. At the same post-fight press conference where White might his initial statements, he answered questions of retirement, saying, "That's probably safe to say, but I'm not gonna make any decisions until I go home and talk to everybody, talk to all my people, my friends."
And now, two months later, there still has been no official statement from Liddell on whether he will or won't retire. It's obvious, without any public comment, that it hasn't been any easy decision for the former champion, whichever direction he ultimately chooses.
If he does decide to continue fighting, he is still under contract with the UFC, and it's unlikely that he will ever adorn the fight card of a competing promotion.