UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, at Wednesday’s UFC 125 prefight press conference, announced the official retirement of former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell.
Perhaps a little more surprising was that they also named Liddell to the promotion’s executive staff. Instead of UFC superstar, Liddell will now be known as UFC Executive Vice President of Business Development, on par with the rest of the promotion’s executive staff, which White characterized as five or six people.
“A lot of people have worked hard, fighters who have gone out and put on incredible performances, great shows, traveled all over the world, but there’s one guy who really stands out and who has been a great partner, a great friend, a great champion, the list goes on and on,” said White. “I’m here today with my partner Lorenzo Fertitta to announce his retirement.”
For more than 10 years, Chuck Liddell has been more than I can say. More than a friend, more than a fighter, more than a champion, and we’re also here today to announce that he is also becoming one of the top executives in the UFC.”
Fertitta isn’t typically a fixture at UFC press conferences, but he made an exception for Liddell, adding to the praise that White heaped upon the promotion’s former star, but also explaining why they chose Liddell as a rare addition to the UFC’s executive ranks.
“We think (Liddell) is really in a unique position. Chuck has been involved in martial arts as a professional fighter for 18 years and he has literally seen this sport evolve from a very small niche sport to what it is today… a global sport that is becoming worldwide.”
Fertitta went on to clarify that, while Liddell would be involved in issues such as regulatory affairs and fighter relations, he is not going to be an executive in name only. Liddell will be actively involved with the promotion’s expansion efforts throughout the world focusing mainly on business development.
Liddell will finally get to put his degree from Cal Poly to use. His eyes wet and shiny, Liddell took to the podium for the final time as a UFC fighter. His voice more gravely than usual, the UFC Hall of Famer said little, fighting for the last time just to maintain his composure.
“I want to thank Frank, Lorenzo, and Dana for everything they’ve done for me over the years, and the sport,” he said nervously, forcing the words out.
“Most of all I want to thank my fans and my family. I love this sport and I’m excited to go to this new stage in my life and keep promoting the best sport in the world, the sport I love… now that I’m retired.”