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Chuck Liddell’s trainer, John Hackleman, calls me a moron and more fun with audio

Our pal, Steve Cofield, aka Mr. Sunshine, had Chuck Liddell’s trainer, John Hackleman, as a guest on his show. Hackleman said he believed Keith Jardine won the fight vs. Liddell at UFC 76 and gave his reasons as to why he felt Liddell lost. He said that he doesn’t believe in any way that Liddell is done. In fact, he said they are trying to Shogun in December. Hackleman said this before the news broke (or right around the same time) that it was reported he’ll have surgery. He also mentioned Wanderlei”if the UFC would put it on.”

Oh, and he also called me a moron! Actually, a complete utterly stupid moron. As you may or may not know, I was critical of Hackleman and Liddell on Steve’s show right after UFC 76. Normally I’d shoot back with some witty comeback but I respect Hackleman, as well as Liddell. Hackleman has been in this game for a long time and has trained champions. I think in this isolated instance (the strategy employed during the fight) is legitimate criticism. If they don’t like the messenger, that’s fine. But I don’t think Hackleman did a good job defending against the message.

He said I need to get in the cage with Jardine and see if I can defend the kicks any better. First off, Jardine is above my weight class (oh yeah, and about ten times my skill level). Even if I checked them my leg would still be jacked. But at least I’d do the basic things necessary to at least defend the kicks. Chuck didn’t. The whole “I’d like to see him get in the cage” argument is weak because I’ve actually been in the cage. I sucked royally, but I’ve been in it and will be in it again (and the next time I am you’ll see a different fighter). I’ll never come close to fighting at a pro level but I’d like to think I have a little more knowledge about actual MMA fighting than the average pundit out there.

And, and by the way, don’t think for a second I wouldn’t hesitate to spar (or fight in a sanctioned match) with a top-level pro like Jardine. He’d destroy me but I’d accept the physical punishment in exchange for the first-hand knowledge. I’d like to know precisely how hard Jardine kicks and then after extensive medical treatment try and articulate my experience to everyone in writing. If any major pro camp afforded me the opportunity to come and train with their fighters for a day or two so I could get an education in what they do I’d pay my own expenses to go out and do it.

You can click here to hear the entire interview. Hackleman acknowledged that there were some things he could have done differently in getting Chuck prepared for Jardine but he tried to downplay the leg kicks. He said Chuck worked with a K-1 fighter to train defending the kicks but that the kicks weren’t an issue.

When Steve mentioned that even Dana White questioned Chuck’s hunger, Hackleman said it was okay. Yet when someone in the media who writes on the Internet questions Chuck they are automatically labeled a moron? That’s the same mentality I’m used to dealing in other major sports where the manager or coach is second guessed. In their minds, it doesn’t matter if you’re making a valid point or not, if you’re not one of “them” then it’s impossible for you to know anything about the sport.

I’ll stop being overly-sensitive. In hindsight, my criticism was over the top and I should have softened it. I’ve got to take my medicine and it would be irrational for me to expect Hackleman to respond favorably to my comments considering how they were phrased. The context wasn’t respectful towards Liddell and Hackleman and I apologize for that, but I standby the content. How can a smart guy like Hackleman legitimately say kicks weren’t a factor and that Liddell checked most of them? I guess he and I have a different definition of checking a kick.

– Cofield also interviewed Dorian Price, who lost to Matt Arroyo on last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter. Click here for that audio.

– Casey Trowbridge of Combat Hooligans recently conducted an interview with Daniel Puder in anticipation of his match this Saturday for Strikeforce at the Playboy Mansion. Puder said he “doesn’t think Angle has the balls” to fight him. You can hear the show by clicking here. Casey also interviewed Puder a previous time, where he apparently said he hated fighting for BodogFIGHT. You can listen to that one by clicking here.

– Also, Matt Cava and I will be doing another edition of Inside the Cage Radio this weekend. We’ve already secured Dann Stupp from to help recap UFC 76 and we’re working on a few other guests.

– You can still listen to last week’s outstanding edition of Inside the Cage with our special guests Kenny Florian, Ricco Rodriguez, and Joey Riggs. Just click the “play now” button below:


  • Body_Shots says:

    I agree, the whole “I’d like to see him get in the cage” argument is weak, but you did say you can defend leg kicks better than Liddell, and kind of trivialized what Jardine did in the fight in the following statement. As if all Liddell had to do was time one leg kick and the fight would of been over.

    I don’t think Hackleman telling you step in the cage with Jardine was unwarranted mainly because you came off like an armchair Ultimate fighter in that clip.

    I also wouldn’t compare what you said to what Dana said in the post fight presser.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Body Shots, Steve didn’t play the whole clip. I said that the exact same stuff I said on this blog in my post fight analysis. I said more than just him catching a kick. He had had checked those kicks he could have stopped Jardine from possibly scoring a few points with the judges and Jardine was also using those kicks to set up his punches.

    And while I don’t know for sure, Chuck had to have been feeling those leg kicks later on in the third and if you use conventional punching technique, not having full use of your legs can take away some of your power. Chuck isn’t a conventional puncher (how many people can knock guys out while moving backwards?) so maybe a lack of mobility didn’t have an effect. But maybe it did?

  • Sam, thanks for the plug. For anyone that listens, I mentioned this before and after the interview but it is worth saying again, it would’ve been longer but technology has not been a friend of our site over the past week. Dan was on his cell phone and cut out just after the talk moved to Angle and we tried a number of times to get him back but it was not to be.

    As for the Hackleman comments I’m sorry but the “walk in my shoes” kind of argument for deflecting a type of criticism is one I’ve always had a hard time accepting as valid.

    I didn’t hear your comments on the radio but I did read your post on the subject and thought you made some good points. I wouldn’t have thought them any less valid if you’d never been inside a cage in your life.

    In my view his response was weak and more out of frustration than anything.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Casey, no prob.

    I’m actually glad Hackleman made those comments about me because it lit a fire under me. I’ve been training more and am thinking about increasing further so I can fight way earlier than I planned (maybe Nov. 17). I was only going to go to a BJJ class tonight but I am thinking about going to my first kettlebells class afterwards. I’ve been too much of a wuss to try kettlebells because everyone says how hard the workout is. But now I’m like, I need to get my ass in there.

  • SpiderSilva says:

    You’re right, in fact I think that Kobe Bryant should start asking junior high school basketball players advice on how do improve his game. I agree with Hackleman, you are a moron. Maybe you should call Gary Millen & see if he agrees with you.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    LOL. Thanks for the support “SpiderSilva.”

  • SpiderSilva says:

    No, I’m just giving you crap. I enjoy your blog & your articles in Fight Mag.

  • Sam your making friends wherver you go. Kettlebells? We use propane tanks down here in Texas son. It keeps you from dropping the tank on the ground.

  • Matt Boone says:

    I hate when people pull rank like that. It’s a cop-out of a defense. You simply pointed out, as a journalist (which is your job) your opinion of the fight and broke down specifically why you felt he lost – ALSO your job. I’ll admit you came off a bit ….I don’t even know the word, but it didn’t come off good. You went overboard in explaining it I guess is the best way to sum it up. Almost as if you could have done better – at least in that one regard (defending leg kicks). Regardless, when all they can say is “get in there and see if you can do any better” – that’s horse shit. Bisping did it recently to a writer at a post-presser too. How dare we even come up with unofficial rankings if that’s the case. We’ve never fought everyone in every weight class to know first-hand who ranks where and why. How dare we have an opinion! How dare we express it! They fight for a living, we analyze fights for a living. Seems like simple math to me. I would always love watching Larry Merchant out-wit George Foreman on HBO commentary when Foreman could only fall back on “you don’t know Larry, you’ve never been in there.” Just my opinion, I hope I’m entitled to it, lately I’m not so sure.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Matt, I agree with you 100%. Even the part about my delivery.

  • Brent says:

    Pitmaster calling you a moron = Sam Caplan is an official MMA fixture.

    “You’ve come a long way baby.”

    What show will you be fighting at Sam? USKBA sanctioned?

  • Sam Caplan says:

    No way. I don’t think I could hang in a USKBA-sanctioned tourney at this point. I’d be one and done. One minute and done, at that.

    I was referring to the Nov. 17 Smoker that Brad supposedly is having at the Jersey school.

  • Brent says:

    OK – good luck – I hope somebody films and posts the fights – I want to see how everyone is progressing…

  • I agree that Chuck could have had a better game plan going in, but I also agree with Hackleman that the kicks were not the make or break. In the fight that I saw (we all see them differently) the scoring was very close. It was Chuck not comitting to his punches after he had Jardine stunned or hurt which hurt Chuck most. I think Liddell was hesitent after his KO loss to Rampage. If this was any of Chucks 5 or 6 fights before Jardine he would have finished him in the 1st when he had Jardine moving backwards.

  • skatanicus says:

    Well, Chuck definitely didn’t check the leg kicks like he should have, but that wasn’t the only thing wrong with his game plan. I agree with what a lot of people have said about Chuck, that he was too scared of getting knocked out, it’s good to be cautious but he overdid it. That was late in the fight, whereas early he was doing well and maybe should have gone all out at least 2 seconds at a time- some hard flurries could have gotten Chuck the win, but he didn’t seem focused and I don’t know how much Hackleman is to blame, really. Chuck had everything he needed to win, sure he could have had more, and I was initially inclined to blame Hackleman at least partially, but now I see the Liddell vs. Jardine fight as proof that a fighter’s mentality going into a fight will greatly effect the outcome.

  • […] of Sam Caplan ripping on Chuck Liddell’s performance and played it back for John Hackelman. Hijinx ensued. So in general I’m happy that we’ve got a guy like Steve who has good access through […]


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