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If it’s truly over… thanks for the memories Chuck

If Saturday night’s fight with Shogun Rua was truly Chuck Liddell’s swan song then we witnessed the end of an era. We witnessed the farewell to MMA’s version of Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan.

Chuck Liddell did so much more for MMA than just knocking people out and winning championships. He helped MMA get into the mainstream media.

The invention of The Ultimate Fighter was a stroke of genius but choosing Chuck Liddell as one of the coaches was just as important as the concept of the show itself. With his trademark Mohawk and tattooed head Chuck Liddell was recognized around the world to hard-core, casual and fleeting fans.

With appearances on Entourage and his dedication to helping the sport grow by doing countless interviews Liddell will go down in history as not only a great fighter but a man who did all that he could to popularize the sport that he loves.

Everyone has memories of Liddell whether they are memorable or forgettable. Everyone remembers certain fights of Liddell’s whether they were rooting for him or against him. Here are my three top memories of Chuck Liddell.

1) Chuck Liddell defeats Tito Ortiz via knockout at UFC 47 in April of 2004. Liddell had been chasing Tito for a long time and Tito was hiding behind a supposed friendship that the two had developed while training at Big Bear together. If you read Liddell’s book the two were never close and he knew Tito was afraid of him by the way he dominated him during training sessions. Liddell had already beaten a who’s who of mixed martial artists and was coming off a loss to Quinton Jackson in the semi-finals of a Pride tournament that was supposed to see Chuck match-up with Wanderlei Sliva. You knew Chuck was highly motivated by that loss and was finally getting his opportunity to get his hands on Tito. While the first round was spent feeling each other out Liddell was just biding his time. In the second round Liddell unleashed a flurry of crosses, straights and uppercuts displaying unbelievable hand speed that sent Tito crashing to the canvas and Liddell running around the octagon in celebration.

2) Chuck Liddell defeats Randy Couture via knockout at UFC 52 in February of 2006. This was a rematch of their first fight that took place in June of 2003. Couture utilized his wrestling and frustrated Liddell the whole fight while earning a TKO victory in round 3. The two were opposing coaches on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and their rematch was highly anticipated. While the fight did not live up to the hype as Liddell knocked out Couture early in the first round, it cemented Liddell as the best light heavyweight in the world. It was sweet revenge for Liddell as he became the first fighter to knock Randy Couture out cold. The two would fight again 10 months later with the same result but this time it ended in the second round as opposed to the first.

3) Chuck Liddell defeats Wanderlei Silva via unanimous decision at UFC 79 in December of 2007. This was a fight that everyone wanted to see for years. The two most feared strikers in their weight class had flirted with the idea but it never came to fruition. Now with Silva signed with the UFC everything was falling into place but it almost didn’t happen. Liddell had lost his championship to Rampage Jackson at UFC 71 in May of 2007 and was scheduled to fight Keith Jardine in what was supposed to be a tune-up fight at UFC 76 in September. With Silva sitting cage side with UFC President Dana White, Jardine leg kicked his way to a split decision victory. At some point during the fight Silva asked White if Jardine was really going to win this fight as he saw yet another opportunity going out the window to fight Liddell. Thankfully the UFC put this fight together and these two certainly did not disappoint. They went back and forth never giving up an inch for 15 minutes. Liddell even broke out a spinning back fist and took Silva down a few times in what looks to be the last victory of Liddell’s storied career. If this is the case he couldn’t have won his last fight against a better opponent.

These are my three favorite moments in Liddell’s career. I thoroughly enjoyed all of his fights except the ones where he got knocked out. I will admit I am not the biggest fan of Liddell’s but I respect him and I loved his style. Guns a-blazing’, go for broke and entertain the fans is what he was all about.

It wasn’t just age that caught up with him but the new breed of fighters today are so well versed in so many disciplines and with the way fighters study videos and break down their opponents style and are able to identify certain actions it was just a matter of time that he was going to get passed by.

With that being said he always went all out and a lot of people questioned his life style outside of the octagon but when it came down to it he always trained his heart out for his fights. He cared about his performances and he understood his role and that he was representing not only the UFC but MMA as a whole.

We have been lucky enough to witness one of the greatest fighters of our life time and I am very happy that I was able to watch him compete. He has been a true ambassador for the sport and will continue to help this sport grow in other capacities. Twenty years from now we will all be proud to say that we got to watch the great Chuck Liddell during his heyday as a fighter.

8 COMMENTS
  • Hohlraum says:

    Unless the UFC has him locked up in a contract that will prevent him from fighting in other organizations I highly doubt we’ve seen the last of him.

  • drdsanders says:

    Since the MMA boom in 2005 I’ve felt Liddell’s standup was over rated. He was known as a great striker. Until he faced Rampage, his title defenses were against non strikers. Since June 07 Chuck has had to fight guys with stand up games and has been knocked out 3 times. When compared to other strikers, Chuck doesn’t have the solid stand up game he’s credited for. (one exception…the wandy fight was amazing)

  • wardog says:

    Liddell’s fans and critics can argue back and forth all day, but Chuck is one of the fighters who made the UFC famous. I am a history professor and currently in one of my classes of 35 student (about 18 males) only 2 watch the UFC. But all males and most of the females know who Liddell is. And Bryan I would have to say his win over Babalau Sobral at UFC 40 may have been one of his most devestating KO’s. And alot of guys said Chuck’s stand up game was overrated, but the main problem was all of the grapplers were beating the stand up guys. And when they got to Chuck he took them out. Also he is 39, and as a fellow 39 year old I can honestly say your reaction time really decreases. Not good for a counter puncher. But Liddell has to be ranked with anyone as one of the most influential MMA fighters ever.

  • tyler says:

    IF it’s truly over for Chuck … GOOD!

  • Wardog, I completely agree he truly transcended the sport of MMA into everyday life. Even if you were not a fan of MMA there was a good shot you could recognize who Chuck Liddell was. As I said I was not his biggest fan, in fact I actually rooted against him when he fought Couture and to an extent when he fought Tito, but that was before I really got to know all about him. I really hope this is it for him, there is a picture on Sports Illsutrated of him leaning over the cage facing the fans and it is sad, I don’t want to see him getting knocked out anymore. By the way, Wanderlei Silva was calling him out yesterday. Please let the guy retire in peace.

  • Angry Mike says:

    It’s easy to look back now and wonder about Liddell’s success. He is a pure striker who rarely demonstrated any other form of offense. But during at his peak the question was whether his opponent would make it into the second round. One hell of an exciting ride. I suspect he’ll fight occasionally in other orgs. Hopefully he can also maintain a relationship with UFC due to his drawing power. Maybe some guest commentating like Couture during his retirement.

  • syko says:

    What is there left to say about Chuck the “IceMan” Liddell? Ive followed his career for quite a while and I think that EVERYONE can say that Liddell’s stand up was overrated and all that, but truth be told, Tito, Vitor, Randy, Babalu, Randleman, AND Wandy are all good strikers, and quite frankly, the victories over Tito, Vitor, Babalu, Randleman, and Randy were when he was young.

    Chuck was a beast. It was never an arguement of being overrated. The reason that he was so good back then was because A. He was young. and B. He was a great wrestler. In the older days of MMA if you were good at 2 styles, you were unstoppable, and he was a great striker with probably the best takedown defense EVER. He brought MMA into the main stream, and I’ll always admire him for never ever giving up or giving in. Thanks for all the Memories Chuck

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Overeem and Mezger were very good strikers too. I don’t think he was overrated at all. People figured him out a little and his chin is not as good as it was, thats all. As for him retiring, well that is up to him so why does everyone try and force it upon him, I mean before the fight and after the fight that is what was talked about but Lidell gave no indication that was going to happen. So back off and let him decide for himself. I think he has earned that right.

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