An interesting take on the Chuck Liddell retirement situation from Cage Potato:
Liddell’s forced retirement may primarily be due to Dana White’s concern for his friend’s health, but the UFC has Chuck over a barrel, legally speaking, in the same way that they tied up Randy Couture in 2007-2008. Because he has one fight left on his UFC contract, Liddell is currently unable to compete for another MMA organization. If the UFC lets him fight one more time, then he’s free to leave them and make money for one of the UFC’s rivals. To prevent this situation, the UFC is simply choosing to not give him that last fight.
And let’s not forget how they’ve had Tito Ortiz tied up as well. They locked in so many non-compete, right of first negotiation and right of first refusal clauses that even now he’s still not able to sign with another promotion without giving the UFC the option to counter first.
Of course, going to court to enforce all this shit is a nuclear option and I doubt anyone is expecting things to go that far. But weirder things have happened. After beating Tim Sylvia and Gabriel Gonzaga, was anyone expecting Randy Couture to cut and run? I suppose we should have, since history repeating itself is something Couture seems to be all about. But at the time that was a pretty huge surprise, and Dana didn’t let his respect for Couture stand in the way of Zuffa’s army of lawyers. Also it’s worth remembering that Dana and Tito used to be pretty tight way back in the day, too.
So while I doubt shit is gonna hit the fan to that degree, I have no doubt that Dana would “declare fucking war” if it did. If Chuck wants to fight outside the UFC, the most basic tenants of his existing contract would probably bar him from competing elsewhere for a good two years or even more. Long story short: so long as the UFC decides they don’t want Chuck to fight, he’s not going to fight.