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UFC 88: A new camp is the answer for Liddell, not retirement

Yes, I am the same clown who wrote an article this week titled Rashad Evans is going down and he’s going down early.” Right about now I should be eating some humble pie, correct?

Well, in the immortal words of Will Smith: Aw, hell no!

As arrogant as it sounds, I’m sorry folks but I’m not going to be eating anything today after Chuck Liddell’s devastating loss last night at UFC 88 in which he ate a huge overhand right by Evans.

The truth of the matter is, outside of Mauro Ranallo and David Andrest, I don’t know anyone who thought Evans had a shot. And in the case of Ranallo and Andrest, even a blind squirrel catches a nut sometimes. I kid, I kid. But a lot of the people who are going to respond to this thread and say “I told you so” are the some of the same people who felt Evans was going down in the first place.

To classify last night’s upset a shock would be an understatement. This was Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga all over again; as the underdog not only won, but he did so by stealing his opponent’s signature move.

Liddell’s loss last night angered many fans and those frustrations are on display in many message forums right now. Many of these fans likely lost big money on Liddell and were already frustrated they couldn’t take advantage of the Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Karo Parisyan moneyline. Gamblers gripe. But that’s a story for another time.

But the angry mob doesn’t want to give Evans his just due because of the evasive nature he exhibited for much of the first round and first half of the second round. They are claiming Evans didn’t deserve to win. Well, I think that’s a bunch of hogwash. That’s the nature of fighting. Evans earned last night’s victory and deserves credit because he not only put his overhand right on Liddell’s chin, he left him sprawled out on the canvas. And in doing so left no doubt about whether the fight had reached it’s conclusion.

So I fully acknowledge Evans deserved to win last night. However, at the risk of sounding like Georges St. Pierre, aside from that overhand right, I was not impressed with his performance. What we saw last night was a page ripped out of Lyoto Machida’s playbook. It was counter-fighting at its finest without the countering from Evans until Liddell opened himself up like the red sea and granted safe passage to Evans’ right fist.

Sorry, but I’m supposed to acknowledge that Evans is a threat as a striker after one high kick executed on Sean Salmon and one overhand right in which Liddell not only gift-wrapped his chin for Evans, but presented it to him on the proverbial silver platter? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed last night’s show and the main event made for great theater, but Liddell should have won that fight. Liddell gave it away much like he gave the fight away to Evans’ teammate, Keith Jardine, last September.

There are those who are going to claim “Liddell is overrated” or “Liddell is finished and needs to retire” but I am not subscribing to those theories. I have a much different explanation for what happened last night and I’m sure I will take heat for it. As someone who has never fought professionally, I supposedly don’t have the fighting credentials to play “Sunday Morning Quarterback.”

Oh well, I don’t care.

The conclusion I have come to is that Liddell doesn’t need to retire but instead needs a new camp. He needs a new approach that John Hackleman and “The Pit” can’t provide him. A lot of the mistakes we saw from Liddell last night are the same mistakes we saw in losses to Randy Couture, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Jardine. Why Liddell has not improved as a fighter in recent years is partially his fault and partially the fault of his trainer.

By UFC fighting standards, Liddell does not have the best chin in the world. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he has a glass jaw, but I don’t see how anyone can deny the fact that Liddell has proven to be knockout prone at times. With that said, why does he keep exposing his chin so much? Yes, anytime you throw a power shot you’re going to expose your face, but it just seems like Liddell telegraphs what’s coming and that an attentive fighter that’s willing to watch hours of tape can easily spot Liddell’s tell and time him up. I’d like to call Evans’ shot heard around the world last night a lucky punch, but I am willing to wager he knew what was coming. What happened last night wasn’t pure luck, it was good scouting.

While Evans didn’t mimic Jardine’s gameplan, it looked like Greg Jackson installed some of the same ideas such as attacking Liddell’s lead leg and focusing on foot work in order to control the distance between the two. You would think that Liddell’s camp would anticipate this and make some adjustments? But while Liddell looked to be in great physical condition last night, I just don’t feel like he was tactically prepared for the fight. Why does Liddell continue to expose his lead leg to cut kicks more than any fighter in existence? If someone walked into an MMA camp and exhibited such a wide base in their stance such as the one exhibited by Liddell, they would be corrected right away. But Liddell continues to not only give up his leg, he refuses to check kicks.

Listen, Liddell doesn’t need to hang it up, he just needs a good Muay Thai instructor.

And while we know that Liddell might be able to hit harder backpedaling than any human known to man, he might not be the fighter we think he is when it comes to fighting forward. Evans’ back last night was against the cage two times and instead of advancing and applying pressure, Liddell allowed him to circle out of range. Again, that’s where a good Muay Thai instructor would have done Liddell some good. He could have shot the gap and tried to clinch up with Evans and put his back on the cage and delivered knees and maybe a couple of uppercuts or hooks that might have put Evans on Queer Street (is there such a street?).

The secret on how to fight Liddell is out and while my little essay earlier in the week breaking down the fight has proven to be a total joke, I was right about one thing: the way to beat Liddell isn’t by trying to take him down and burning yourself out, it’s by standing with him and testing his chin. Evans acknowledged this in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan and it was almost as if he read what I had written verbatim. Am I clairvoyant? No. I just pointed something out that’s become obvious to a lot of people. But instead of staying one step ahead, Liddell is one step behind and has not made a single alteration to his awkward punching style in which he throws shots from crazy angles that makes it difficult for him to bring his hands back and protect his chin.

Liddell needs to evolve as a fighter and adjust. I’m likely wasting my breath as it would be be naive to think someone as loyal as him would just up and turn his back on “The Pit” after all these years. And at 38, Liddell is probably set in his ways. The style he is using now at one time earned him a UFC light heavyweight title and made him one of the most feared punchers alive. Success breeds content. Finding a winning formula in life isn’t easy and when you do find the recipe for success, there can be a fear of trying to deviate what got you where you are today. But to use another cliche, you can either change with the times or allow time to pass you by. Randy Couture is 44 and isn’t the same fighter he was four years ago, let alone 10 years ago. He is constantly changing his strategy and implementing new technique instead of being stubborn.

In martial arts, there are no more masters. You don’t reach that mythical place where you reach an apex and mastered all there is to know. Martial arts has evolved more in the last 15 years than it had in the previous 100. Things are changing constantly in martial arts thanks to MMA, as competitive fighters are always looking for an answer to a problem.

Even the best must continue to push themselves and continue to learn in order to stay on top. Liddell needs to make some changes and while I am sure I’ll experience a backlash from some for questioning his training, I’m just calling it like I see it. I’m not suggesting “The Pit” isn’t a great place to train; I’m just suggesting that Liddell might want to broaden his horizons and incorporate some new ideas into his routine before he’s no longer relevant in this sport.

  • ken2427 says:

    Ill admit I have a man crush on liddell. With that being said he needed to pressure evans when he had him not let up. Liddell is not done but he’s got along way to go to get that title back. So he needs to step it up quickly.

  • Zurich says:

    Sam – how can you criticize Rashad for his strategy? You’re complaining that Rashad took time to find Chuck’s distance and timing before setting up the big KO. Moreover even if he was counterpunching, then it’s great for Chuck to get a taste of his own medicine – he’s made a career out of it. I sense sour grapes…

  • Steven Prescott says:

    Backlash? Your assessment couldn’t be MORE right! I sent the sentiment to mmajunkie last night. I believe you are right on and that this is the same issue that is hurting Tito, Franklin and Hughes as well. It’s pure ego. These guys have become human punching bags because they refuse to evolve into more complete well rounded fighters. They are loyal to what worked in the past to their own detriment. Couture surrounds himself with so many top notch training partners as do the fighters in Greg Jackson’s camp. Theses camps have a plan and strategy and evolve even beyond where they currently are by adding new fighters to the team. Liddell needs to be challenged. I don’t agree that he looked in shape. He looked fat as usual to me, like a guy who believed in his own myth…, like a guy who thought he was just going to throw one punch and end this. He had NO footwork and NO head movement. He threw the same looping left to the body they got his drilled against Rampage and continues to drop his left to throw his right.
    He needs to recognize that he is NOT unbeatable and remain friends with Hackleman but also move on.

  • Dayzah says:

    Ya really , who cares if it took almost all 3 round before he got active .. A ko is a ko. Just ask Chuck ..

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Zurich, I didn’t criticize Evans’ strategy. In fact, I said that tactically he had Liddell figured out. I simply said that aside from that one punch, I wasn’t really impressed with anything he did in the fight.

  • Jesse says:

    it’s the way the evans fights. will be harder to do against forrest though who should come after him. he beat liddell, fairly.. no questions. i’ve though lidell was over rated for years but he would surprise me .. not i think he’s definitely on the tail end of his career would not be surprised if he only fought 2-4 more times

  • screwface says:

    disappointed in you in sam, your now officially a hater. Not sure why so many of you hate on rashad. hes damned if he does , damned if he doesnt. i guess maybe if he had gold teeth and talked ignorant it would gain every1s respect? threatened much? i always knew he would and i did tell u so… lot of you “experts” really need to check yourself when it comes to rashad. he has all the qualities of most of the fighters you all rave about and a perfect record. so what makes him different? hmmm

  • thomas182 says:

    shit happens

    cant forget over a year ago that a guy named matt serra beat george st.pierre.

    cant win em all

  • romano says:

    Sam, if you can’t see that Evans is a talented striker, then you’ll never truly understand this fight game. You can’t teach hand speed, you can’t teach reflexes…Evans has the talent and the toolbox to actually get into a ring and box, and no, this isn’t the first time he’s displayed these attributes.

    I know that you guys all think that Liddell is some kind of superman, but change camps? now? he’s too long in the tooth to learn anything new. Don’t blame the camp that lead him to the belt for his loss, blame Liddell for fighting so stupidly. Liddel is a different fighter when he’s not fighting grapplers with no standup, and no new camp will ever change that. just get over it. you can’t just leave your chin exposed and your head straight up by trying to throw a haymaker uppercut at that distance against someone with faster hands…anyone knows that, except liddel that is. sorry fanboys, but your guy is done.

  • bonez2799 says:

    Wow…superb commentary. Your assessment is more on the button than Rashad’s punch was! No, but seriously, I have thought that Chuck needs to adapt to the new breed of MMA for a few years now (even before he lost his belt) and he just keep proving it time and time again. Losing to the new breed (Jardine, and evolved Rampage, Rashad) and beating the OLD breed (Wanderlei). It’s not just about getting “caught,” it’s about all the mistakes he made leading up to the reception of that “lucky punch.”

  • paul keith says:

    Just a few names that come to mind that have become largely irrelevant in the sport due to this same inability to adapt gamelan, or not spend their off time adding new skills to their game, or worse yet, have a big fish little pond mentality are Shamrock, Ortiz, Herring, Menne, Rodrguez, Hughes, and Royce. Many of these guys either stop training with people that can push them, or refuse to add more dimensions to their game, or both, If they don’t want to humble themselves a bit by going to other instructors or need the Ego boost of being the best guys in the gym I wish they would just retire.

  • Steven Prescott says:

    Romano….,nobody knocked Rashad’s skills, certainly not me. In all honesty, a few years back when Liddell was champ and Rashad won tuf…, I told many people that I thought he could be a problem for Liddell. (won’t lie, after the Tito fight I didn’t see this coming) That having been said, Liddell needs someone to step in and show him something different. Who does Liddell train with and spar with? Rashad has Marquardt, St Pierre, Jardine et al. He has to bring something new to his next fight or he is going to get KO’d again. The issue is his inability to evolve in a sport where his peers are evolving rapidly. A new camp could teach him to move his head more, to check kicks and pick better shots IF he had the courage to check his ego at the door and realize that this sport has moved past him too. It’s ego NOT age. If age and not training was the issue, how do you explain Couture who after leaving Lindland and Henderson behind improved his game beyond words? Do you really think Liddell would beat Couture now? I think Couture would rip him apart because he had the intelligence to realize that Quest was not going to get him where he wanted to be. He checked his ego and look at the results.

  • Guy Gaduois says:

    Evans’ result is what Lyoto Machida could do – if he ever actually had a big strike, or even engaged in range to deliver one. Otherwise, it’s like ‘Dance Fever’ with Deney Terrio and Lyoto Machida.
    But the movement and range finding is good, as long as it has a point. I said months back, prepare to see more of this – and as for Machida, I don’t know he can copy Evans’ power. I didn’t know Rashad had that in his bag of tricks. Yes it was good timing, but both fighter saw an opening, Evans got to his destination sooner and it was good night.
    Most impressive.

  • Henry says:

    Do you hate Rashad? Rashad strategy is the same as Chuck, except Chuck has impressive knockouts. Sam, give Rashad his props, he executed a good game plan as well as Jardine and he came out on top. Chuck Liddell is vulnerable to grapplers that can strike.

  • bada55 says:

    This is why tito was starting to lose ,they are stuck on their own styles which now everyone knows what to expect from chuck, so until he evoles his game ie.more wrestling,more muay thai,and submissions he will just start a downward spiral.
    Don’t get me wrong Chuck is a great athlete as is Tito but they must evole their game as Randy has done and use more brains then brawn

  • joetheacupuncturist says:

    sam, read the last version of the duel. i was in a heated debate as to why Sugar would hand Chuck a ktfo. i also won a ton of money when chuck first beat randy. the rocky 3 arch is inevitable

  • shocked says:

    I was totally shocked by that knockout, but I expected Rashad to definitely bring his A game. Rashad comes from a great camp and I knew that studied Chucks movements to a T. Problem is…it isnt that difficult to figure out Chuck at all…fighters just need to have the confidence to implement their strategy and execute which Rashad did perfectly. I am as many other fans hated watching Rashad evade Chuck in round 1 and see him do his little cocky quirks during the fight/post fight. But Rashad verbally was very respectful of chuck and didnt trash talk post fight. I agree that Chuck needs to evolve but he doesnt have as much time on his hands. Randy is unique not only physically but he’s a wrestler more than a striker. With age, if you are a striker…if reflexes and timing goes..well that pretty much puts you out of business which can be proven by looking at boxing..with old former champs getting their clocks cleaned with the new-bred and younger fighters.
    I think Chuck needs to follow in the footsteps of GSP…….mix things up during the fight so he becomes not so predictable…switch to different camps and pick up some different tactics. He can do this without cutting ties completely with the Pit Crew.

  • Gene says:

    Sam you never admit you are wrong, it’s just like the time you wouldn’t admit that you were wrong about Dana White’s announcement of getting MMA sanctioning in New York.

  • egad81 says:

    I was cheering for Chuck but I knew in my belly when the fight was BORING AS HELL that Chuck was going to lose.

    Rashad is an UGLY fighter. All the juke and jize shits got to stop.

    I personally think Rashad should fight RAMPAGE or MACHIDA

    MACHIDA vs RASHAD….. Call it… UFC 9(something):It’s Gonna Get Ugly

  • KTFO82 says:

    Liddell will never get another title shot in the UFCs LHW division. I totally agree that he needs some fresh strategies. He might not need to dump Hack n The Pit, but he needs a change. What’s next for Chuck? Matt Hamill? Has he entered Gatekeeper mode? Very disappointing, but kudos to Shad with a gruesome KO

  • laserline says:

    Sam when Rashad beats Forrest down will that impress you? Like what the hell does this guy have to do to get any respect?

  • Tanner says:

    Prescott – I don’t think you should be lumping Franklin in with that group. He’s lost to Anderson Silva in the last 5 years. And the other person he lost to was Lyoto Machida in 2003. I think you’re either totally off base or completely ignorant. Franklin has sought new trainers after losing to Silva the first time. He said that he had wished he spent more time with Hume leading up to the 2nd fight and Rogan made the comment last night he was with him for 8 weeks leading up to this one. He’s making the strides and i thought he looked a lot better last night. His kicks were really good and something he hasn’t shown as much of in his past fights. Now i’m not saying he’s going to go out and win his middleweight title back but to say he’s on the down end of his career and refuses to acknowledge his short comings is ignorant at best.

  • Rich S. says:

    Chuck’s stance has ALWAYS left openings..
    i mean, the guy keeps his hands at his waist..
    but, he’s just now starting to get found out..
    Rampage went out there and took it to him like no other, just a clean connect right to the jaw, Liddell’s hands were NOWHERE near his head.. In the Second round of Jardine/Liddell, Jardine dropped him to the canvas.. i thought it was over for a second.. and, in the last night’s fight, he might as well have had his hands tied behind his back..

    There’s something i’ve noticed about Liddell.. and obviously, Greg Jackson, and a few others have noticed this too..

    10 SECONDS INTO THE RAMPAGE/LIDDELL II fight I could tell something was really wrong..

    all it took was coming out forward and fast in the first 5 seconds, and it threw chuck off allllll the way to the KO..

    same case in the Jardine fight, a few leg kicks in the first 30 seconds, and next thing you know, Liddell’s COMPLETELY OFF for the next three rounds..

    and last night, you could see the same thing.. just from seeing the first 20 seconds i could tell someting was terribly wrong.. he just has like a different look in his eyes, he moves slower, etc. etc.

    all it took was Rashad backing up a few times, and getting Liddell to come to him, and after that, he pretty much ALREADY had the fight in the bag..

    it’s crazy..

    i can’t see Liddell at any other camp than The Pit, simply because when you think of either Liddell or The Pit, you automatically put one with the other..
    i mean, Chuck and Hack are like brothers..

    but, obviously a change IS needed..
    he needs to just REFINE his striking game..
    it worked for a good 8-10 years or so, but now, it’s over..
    he has to get his hands up, and change his plan around a bit..

  • mike wolfe says:

    Good analysis, Sam. Rashad adapted his striking game with the help of Jackson, and Chuck wasn’t prepared for the evolution.

    Will Liddell make changes? Not knowing the guy, I can’t predict that. However, as others have pointed out, he is very close with Hackleman. Furthermore, Liddell was born and raised in Santa Barbara and now lives and trains just up the coast in San Louis Obispo. The South Central CA coast is an incredible place to live, and few people can do so without having to struggle to make ends meet. I don’t see Liddell, who is a native and who has bucks, leaving. Sure he could train elsewhere for an extended period of time, but that still ignores the “local” mentality that is ingrained in coastal Californians and also Hawaiians.

  • Zantetzuken says:

    Look you son of a bitch Sam Caplan, Rashad Evens earned every bit of that victory last night. You need to SHUT THE FUCK UP. Theres no nicer way to put it. Guess who picked Rashad to win? Me. Guess who writes a bunch of bullshit like he has no sense. You. Shut the fuck up. Eat a dick. N—–.

    Editor’s Note: The racial slur at the end of the note was edited by me. I’m leaving the post up to document this bigot’s ignorance. You’re critical of me for expressing my views on Evans because you think I am not showing him proper respect? But then you go and use that word. I’ll tell you what, I have enough respect for Rashad Evans to A) know the proper spelling of his last name and B) not to use the hateful term you used in any context. Enjoy your banishment from the site.

  • bada55 says:

    even though rashad won he is too much of a show off

  • Rich S. says:

    i’d love to think that comment was a joke..

    if not..

    you’ve got some serious problems..

    people like you are the ONLY bad thing about this sport..

  • Cathedron says:

    I’m sorry but I totally have to take issue with saying that Liddell “gave away” the fight to Jardine. You could see how frustrated Liddell was that his tried and true strategy just wasn’t working, but he was putting everything into it. Jardine just did EVERYTHING right in that fight. He made sure that Chuck never landed a clean shot and effectively picked him apart with great combos. Evans did the same thing within his limited skillset. He evaded Chuck until the Iceman got impatient, aggressive, and sloppy. Then he counter-bombed him. Chuck played Evan’s gameplan instead of the other way around.

    True, Chuck needs a new camp. But don’t take away from those who beat him by utilizing effective gameplans. The gameplan is the most important part of a fight. Neutralize your opponent’s strengths and exploit their weaknesses.

  • Nick says:

    Caplan: Use of the N-word is not racist. It’s people like you who put a racial meaning on a word that existed long before slavery. Look it up in the dictionary, it means “ignorant or dumb person”.

    I mean, look what Rashad did for a second. He utilized his game plan to the tee. He waited for what he knew Liddell would eventually do (because he ALWAYS does it), while avoiding serious damage. Even when he landed the knock-out blow, he immediately followed it up. I think a little more credit needs to be given to Rashad, no one gave him a chance and he pulled it out in devastating fashion. Who’s to say he wouldn’t do it again against Forrest? He fully deserves that shot, it’s very had to stay undefeated @ LHW, but he’s done it so far. To say that Chuck should get a shot if he beat Rashad and not vice versa would be ridiculous.

  • Anton K says:

    I agree that Chuck needs to diversify. A new camp might be the answer.

    However, giving props to Greg Jackson’s gameplan goes only so far. After Jardine beat Chuck he looked like a piece of hamburger – if that fight was five rounds I believe Chuck would have found a way to win.

    Then Jardine fights Wanderlie. Wanderlie absolutely destroys him. Where was Greg Jackson’s gameplan then?

    Rashad is a gifted athlete, a gifted boxer. But he’s no warrior in my estimation. Throw him in with tigers like Wanderlie, Thiago Silva, Rampage or even Babalu and we’ll see what happens…

    I need to see Rashad in all out war before I begin to praise him as a true mixed martial artist.

    And what’s with the nipple thing?

    I tell you, Chuck’s defeat suddenly made this sport a bit less interesting, a bit less mythical in its scope. He is/was a gunfighter and all gunfighters lose in the end.

    Rashad, he’s an athlete. A rather uninteresting athlete – that’s all.

  • joetheacupuncturist says:

    chuck needs a new camp? please, the dude is almost 40. your going to ask him to change his entire game plan at this point in his carear? he is a millionare and he is not going to do that . get real.

  • Tim says:

    FYI the punch was an UNDERHAND not an overhand. Liddel was throwing an overhand and Evans caught him with an underhand punch.

  • I thought Chuck fought pretty well in that fight except for about the last 15 seconds, but….

    Guys with quick hands are going to continue to catch him like that until he starts keeping his hands up. His last 2 knockout losses were the result of some pretty dumb chances he took.

    I was at a crowded bar so it was a little hard to tell, but I thought he had about 3 or 4 crushing checks against Rashad’s kicks.

  • Thunder says:

    Well Sam… you just biffed it again. Just like you did in your “Gina Carano Reached A New Low” masterpiece.

  • Joey says:

    “Many of these fans likely lost big money on Liddell and were already frustrated they couldn’t take advantage of the Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Karo Parisyan moneyline”

    You read my mind! I didn’t plan on placing a bet on the Liddell fight until they called of the Yoshida card! I also put a bet on Palhares, who I do think did a lot better than the judges gave him credit for . . . I thought it would be split for Hendo not a huge unanimous. Oh well.

  • RBeezy says:

    hmm…so if I read this right Sam, you’re saying that:

    1. Rashad was lucky
    2. Chuck was unlucky
    3. Rashad should’ve stood still and gotten hit
    4. Chuck should’ve not allowed himself to get knocked out.

    So what more does Rashad Evans have to do to get your respect? Maybe win against Lesnar? go down and fight Anderson? cut further down and fight GSP? how about BJ?

    better yet, let’s see what Mothra’s up to. or put him up against Superman in a no holds barred match. it seems like Evans won’t get your respect until he does something mythic and supernatural. improving his skills and using new strategy to win against the odds isn’t enough.

    I would’ve liked to see you be humble and admit your mistake but I guess that’s only what a real man would do.

  • Steven Prescott says:

    Tanner…., personally I like Rich Franklin, but I think calling me ignorant to defend him is bit overboard. I’m not sure if you guys are drinking buddies or what but what’s so spectacular about his career? He beat David Loiseau and Evan Tanner. Other than that who? Nate Quarry, Jason McDonald, Yushin Okami, Travis Lutter…, C’mon. Those are 2nd tier fighters AT BEST. Loiseau and Tanner both could not compete at UFC levels any longer. He fought two upper echelon fighters and got his face smashed in 2 times and knocked out all 3 times! Look…, Im saying Franklin does have the skills but Matt Hume is a single dimension of his fight game. He needs a new BJJ coach cuz I’m saying Jorge Gurgel is A CAN at best! His BJJ is weak and pathetic. He got submitted by Cole Miller! What can Franklin learn from that guy. Geez MOST of what Franklin learned prior to fighting was from DVD’s (not making that up). Maybe it’s time he actually goes and trains with someone who can help his career. I’d love to see the outcome of him spending 9 months with Greg Jackson or Xtreme Couture!

  • […] Sam Caplan, fresh off declaring that Rashad Evans had no chance to beat Liddell, thinks its time for Chuck to get a new camp (I’m just messing with you Sam, I picked Liddell too): The conclusion I have come to is that Liddell doesn’t need to retire but instead needs a new camp. He needs a new approach that John Hackleman and “The Pit” can’t provide him. A lot of the mistakes we saw from Liddell last night are the same mistakes we saw in losses to Randy Couture, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Jardine. Why Liddell has not improved as a fighter in recent years is partially his fault and partially the fault of his trainer. […]

  • Simon Cason says:

    I see all you people jumping all over Sam for saying what he did about Rashad. 2/3’s of the same people talking shit, last night or in the the week leading up to the fight were saying the same thing. “Chuck’s going to knock him out, Rashad has no chance”, “Why does Rashad even get the shot at Chuck, what has he done”. Now no one is willing to admit they were wrong. I hate the fact that Rashad won but thats the difference between you and I, I’m willing to admit that at the same time expressing my dissapointment with how shitty Evans performed last night. Dont give me that shit about how Evans showed the perfect game plan. What he showed was he’s not willing to stand and trade, he’s not willing to come at Chuck(which I admit would be stupid), and that he’s willing to “run” to win. What I mean by “run” is avoid any contact at all cost, even at the cost of looking bad. I’m tired of these “new breed” fighters with “undefeated records” fight with the mentatility that “if I stay away and dont get caught, I’ll win, I’ll get my opening”. It pisses me off. Rashad did the same shit Rampage did. Piss Chuck off by not engaging, Frustrating him, bating him to engage when Chuck knew he shouldn’t and he paid for it. Rashad, like Machida is skilled technically, so is Jardine to an extent, but this “Circle, Circle, Avoid at all cost” gameplan is starting to make for some bullshit fights. Have at it. Im just saying.

  • Itshisownfault says:

    You can’t make everyone happy Sam, however, in my opinion you certainly are disparaging Rashad, and Jardine quite a bit. Chuck got beat, three times (Rampage, Evans, Jardine) by people that made Chuck fight their fight. That’s not their fault, and if Chuck would have done this, and would have done that, he would have easily won… blah! Hindsight. Chuck lost, because on that night he wasn’t as good as the winner. That’s it.

    The rest of your rant I agree with, Chuck should evolve. Seems to be Matt Hughes part 2 to me. However, that should take away anything from the people that have evolved.

    I sure the hell was impressed with Evans’ performance. Go back and watch it again. Watch his foot work, watch his feints, watch how he frustrated Chuck with his showboating (yes I hate that, but it was working). Rashad engaged when he thought he could get the best of it, like you said – Loyoto like – with a Loyoto like record.

    On a different note – Rashad vs Wanderlei – I think that’s a much better fight than vs Chuck since Wanderlei is better agressive and Chuck is better countering (IMO).

    Sam, check the preference at the door. Give yourself some time to be objective. I look forward to reading your next bit.

  • Wayne says:

    If chuck and his corner were more perceptive, they would have seen that Rashad had been slinging out that right hand in the same manner up till the knockout. But hindsight is 20/20 and all.

    I don’t care that the majority of MMA was wrong about this fight. That doesn’t make me stupid or a liar. I’ve never been a chuck nut hugger, so I had no emotional investment in the fight. So I thought Rashad had a good chance, with Chucks past perfomances. Now, I didn’t perdict a KO. I also didn’t gamble on it. I figured it would be a boring 3 round “war.”

  • CBChapman says:

    I mostly agree with your assessment, but I do think that Chuck’s age is and will continue to be a big factor, he is getting older and it shows in his body, and in his reflexes. He is not the same fighter now that he was 2 years ago, physically, but I agree tactically he is the same fighter now that he was 2 years ago, and people have figured hm out, and found ways to counter his strategy.

    I think he could win a couple more fights but I don’t see him making a run at the title, I’m a huge fan and I hate it, but I just don’t think that he has it anymore. i hope that I’m proved wrong and he make another run and goes out on top.

  • mr5k says:

    why do ‘stand up’ fighters not kick anymore? are they really that afraid of getting taken down? chuck used to be the best at getting back up if he was taken down, so wheres the problem?
    used to be the leg kicks were the way a striker could dominate a grappler, rich franklin showed it still works a treat. leg kicks seem to be dying out, i love me a leg kicking fight! chuck used to kick like a motherfucker, so why stop?

    also i think Zantetzuken’s ‘racial slur’ was a punctuation point. im guessing he’s either a brother or a white kid who listens to too much hip hop. not defending him just my opinion

    dont recall many previous latino insults being edited? remember someone calling the diaz brothers dirty mexicans. thats ok tho right?

  • Kogepan says:

    hmmm….so liddel loses 2 of 3 fights coming in, has been training with the Pit for an eternity, and you write an article saying he will win by KO, blah, blah.

    So then liddel does no damage to Evans, AND gets brutally KOed and you write another article blaming Hackleman and the Pit for the loss?

    Face it, liddel is shot. The guy is an OLD 38, has lost 3 of his last 4 and is quickly becoming a gatekeeper. He’s basically in the same boat as CroCop at this point, just living off his name.

  • KTru says:


    Too much of a show off???

    Like Chuck never showed off after any of his KO victories???
    Deal with the fact that Evans is the better fighter, and quit whining about a guy that is exuberant after a huge win.

  • warcry says:

    Sam, Chuck gave nothing away. It was taken from him. His mystique is gone. He is not feared like he once was. No more living on reputation. What’s that old adage; “If you can’t beat them join them’. Yea that is what Chuck is doing. Join Greg Jackson and figure out what is fucking him up.

  • Rich S. says:

    use of the N-word is racist.. i don’t even need to give an example.. that’s just bottom line..
    whether it was originally intended to be or not, it is now-a-days..

    and Tim,
    Chuck was throwing a BLATANT UPPERCUT.. not an overhand..

  • Batman says:

    Evan’s knockout of liddell was one of the most devastating punches I have ever seen in the UFC. I was concerned for chuck at first I am glad he is ok. I knew Rashad would win and like I said before Sam, Rashad will win and he is the stronger of the two and now we know he is the better of the two. Also I don’t agree with your article, i am a fan of you and your website but you need to know when you are wrong and just admit it. Rashads win was not lucky it was skill, don’t be a poor sport.

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    Sam, you have every right in not being impressed with Evans’ performance up until that punch but in my opinion, he performed his gameplan perfectly.

    And this coming from a fan who thought Evans was tailor made for a Griffin/Liddell matchup in December.

    Evans knew what he was dealing with and patiently took his time, simple as that.

    And Nick, if you don’t think that word is racist in almost any context, you are ignorant yourself. It doesn’t matter what the original definition of that word is, it carries the stigma of being the most hateful and disgusting words that can be said in the English language.

  • HexRei says:

    Nick on September 7th, 2008 3:45 pm

    Caplan: Use of the N-word is not racist. It’s people like you who put a racial meaning on a word that existed long before slavery. Look it up in the dictionary, it means “ignorant or dumb person”.

    Here, have some knowledge. The two words you are confusing (“niggardly”, and “nigger”) are very different words with different meanings and origins.

    “Niggard” or adjective form “niggardly” have their roots in Scandinavian/Germanic roots and mean “miser” or “stingy”.

    “Nigger” is a slang term derived from the Spanish “negro”, which means “black”.

    The two words aren’t related. Check your facts.

  • Jye says:

    Liddell has nowhere near a glass jaw. It’s just that he does expose himself to getting counter punched when he throws. The shots that he took from Rampage and Evans would of knocked anyone out I don’t care if it’s Henderson or Fedor or whoever.

    By the way I say rashad loses that fight nine times out of ten. That was seriously the first real punch he threw. I don’t care how good his gameplan was you can’t expect to throw like 5 real punches the whole fight and get 1 to connect so sweetly. Probably twisting his nipples for good luck. I hope Forrest KO’s him big time

  • Pimp_man says:

    Forrest ain’t KOing Evans. With that fight were going to see a circling marathon.

    I agree with you same but I thought at the beginning of the 2nd round b4 the punch Rashad was hitting Liddell with some good shots. Liddell does need some updates done.

  • Mark Aulet says:

    Sam I think Chucks akwards stance is the is what allows him to sprawl like noones business. That is why he utilizes that huge base. It hink it’s time for Chuck to get back to his wrestling as he’s proven his hands Imagine him submitting someone.. I’d be shocked.

  • Nate says:

    Great suggestion. Liddell needs to make a change, accept the higher likeliness of future losses against quality opponents, or stop fighting.

    Rashad knocked out Chuck in spectacular fashion. Nobody is taking that away. Everyone gives credit where it is due.

    I am also not taking away the fact that Rashad is a boring, chicken-style fighter. I’d rather watch the after fight video of him knocking out Chuck than have to be tortured watching head-jiggle, dance, prance, and backing up for the entire match.
    Rashad may have beaten an “old school” great in Chuck, but Rashad is also another example of a simple 2 dimensional fighter. He can only “lay & pray” and punch. He has no actual submissions (unless you count submission punching), and few kicks. (Yes, I know he had a kick knockout, but still he does not use them very often).

    The next generation of fighters is here. Forrest will bring BJJ, Striking, and Kicks to the table.

  • Edward says:

    Seth Petruzelli predicted a Rashad victory by KO. Check the interview he did with MMAweekly recently

  • Jack says:

    Ya gotta give Rashad his due, Sam, and respect the man now. He’s a tough challenge for anyone; his wrestling, together with his raw strength (despite his size) is excellent and his striking is underrated. Hopefully now it won’t be. Also, there were still a lot of people who always thought Rashad was a good chance to win.

  • Kelvin says:

    Sam, you should really check my blog more often :)

  • Imbecile says:

    Sam, I agree with you on almost all accounts. I was only marginally impressed with Rashad last night, and nothing leads me to think he will be a worldbeater at 205. He starts off slow, practically giving away the first round in every fight. Nobody knows how he will do if Griffin takes him into rounds 4 & 5, but my guess is he won’t have much energy left with all the bouncing around he does (showboating, to Matt Hughes). Also, we don’t really know if he has the grit to get through a tough fight that Griffin will present.

    As for Liddell, I think he is certainly far from done. However, you are right that he is terribly predictable. I’m not sure it is fair to criticize his stance that much, as it is set up to prevent takedowns, and there is no definitive MMA handbook on the “best” way to do something. Liddell has obviously been very effective with this stance, but he needs to adjust his gameplans.

    Also, I totally agree that he needs to check kicks more in recent fights, but it seems he agrees, as well. Go back and watch the Evans fight again and you will see that Liddell actually moves to check leg kicks more than I have seen him do in years, and he was actually very effective at it.

    Otherwise, I think you are very correct on your analysis.

  • ultmma says:

    you can’t teach a old dog new tricks pretty much sums that up.

    Has Liddell evolved since the days of KO-ing Vernon White and Tito Ortiz?
    I say no.

    plus the guys he lost to Jackson, Jardine and Evans are better than Horn, Sobral, and Ortiz etc. were the type of comp Liddel faced in 2005-2006 when it appeared Liddell was unstoppable at 205

  • stevefiji says:

    Sam, this was a great article and I have just one question and one comment for you, as per your writing style… Does Peter Gammons ( a MLB Hall of Fame inductee) of ESPN have to talk about the fact that he did NOT play baseball when he write a critical assessment? The answer “No”

    And now my comment. This was an amazingly insightful piece that came out first and went into areas none of the top ‘beat’ writers had gone before concerning Liddell. Your personal history of fight participation does not apply with respects to your ability to provide pointed and critical commentary. When you discount your opinion by mentioning it, only YOU are discounting what comes next, not the reader…or at least not the type of reader that you want to appeal to… In other words, you have graduated from the need to qualify your resume before sharing a point…just go for it! Tremendously well written, thanks from an increasingly appreciative fan of your work. Cheers!

  • Detroit313 says:

    yawn. another weak article.

  • RBeezy says:

    HexRei, use the N word around me and you’re just a Peruvian Necktie waiting to happen.

    it’s derogatory and no amount of pseudo-scholastic bullshit will change that. it started out as a slur and it has remained one of the most harmful English words ever created. no amount of revisionism will change that.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    The KO punch was an overhand, and that’s what Rashad called it in the press conference after the fight. I’ve looked at video of the punch numerous times, and it wasn’t an upper cut. Might’ve looked that way from some angles because he was in a crouched posture when he threw it.

  • Ray Lewis says:

    Chuck stopped doing a few things.

    1.) QUICK jabs and angling up with people a certain way.

    2.) Occasionally using a leg kick here and there

    3.) BARRAGE of punches. Watch Tito against the fence, or how he would MOVE and counter (Chuck). EVEN up close, he would be too busy jabbing and throwing shots to worry—others had to cover up. Chuck WOULD inch forward, wait, inch forward find a safe kick or punch, inch forward then WHEN hurt, he’d rush guys and finish. OR, they’d get tired of being jabbed then move forward and eat something. As such, he was GOOD at putting his head on a platter then dodging the shots of others to land his (lots of pics of this floating around).

    –NOW, he will not use more than one jab, he moves FORWARD a lot more but QUICKER than is effective for him, and will set up ONE punch then launch it whereas it was BEST to move head THEN land that big one, or to use a BARRAGE (pressure). I HAVE NOT seen this Chuck since his last fight with Randy. Randy ate jabs, could not hang around outside, Chuck’s hands were more UP, he did not drop the left as much. Now he is also dropping his hands.

    –HE NEEDS to get back to some of that, THEN if the KO is there it happens because of LITTLE THINGS. IF NOT, he should still win the striking wars IF he follows what he once did (can he though?). He also needs to FIGHT and not think, “ONE SHOT KO” all the time. What made him special is they’d train, have an approach, then HACKLEMAN told him where he’d likely find the KO if it was there. It kept happening. NOW, he is not doing what Hackleman tells him to do, and LIMITS himself. No clinch? No elbows in clinch? He cut Wandy bad like that. LITTLE THINGS add up. He once did things that made it to where he’d be likely to win. NOW, people know he won’t do those things and they know his left will drop. NOt rocket science.


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