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Cybulski: UFC's Liddell latest athlete to be humbled by age

James Cybulski
6/13/2010 8:59:12 PM
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There are moments in sports when the greats hang on a little too long. Recently we saw that with Ken Griffey Jr.

Junior was given a hero's send off at the end of last season, only to see him return in 2010 with an average lower than his weight and a new found ability to nap on the job. Old age does it to us all. Just ask Brett Hull about his short run with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005. Better yet, don't.

In boxing, Muhammad Ali should have never stepped into the ring with Trevor Berbick... just a bad idea altogether. It looked like Mike Tyson in 2005 - but the aura of fear and destruction had long passed him by when he was TKO'd by a journeyman fighter who had no business doing that to Iron Mike.

This past weekend in Vancouver, Chuck Liddell returned to the octagon for UFC 115 and hopefully this time it was the last. It had been well over a year since we last saw The Iceman demolished by Mauricio (Shogun) Rua in Montreal and many MMA observers felt that should've been it.

Nevertheless, the chance to take on arch nemesis Tito Ortiz proved tempting, but after Ortiz bailed due to injury, the hall of famer still decided to see it through and agreed to fight another fighter nearing his crossroads, Rich Franklin. Franklin will live to fight another day after he crushed Liddell in the first round.

Now everyone on hand seemed to say that this was it for Chuck after the knockout, but this needs to be for real. The Iceman is one of the sport's true legends. He was a key marketing figure in helping the UFC tap into the mainstream, but now it's time to do it as an ambassador or some other capacity away from the cage.

Not only was Liddell knocked out, but he was KO'd by a guy who had a broken forearm for much of the one round they scrapped. I will say this, I have a whole new respect for Franklin after winning a punch up with a busted arm.

A competitive fire burns in all the great athletes, and it's not for us to take it away, nor to say when its time to go. But when it begins impacting your legacy and most importantly your health - its time to tap - permanently.

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