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Chuck Liddell Biography

MMA Biography: Chuck Liddell

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Chuck Liddell is one of the greatest light heavyweights to ever fight in mixed martial arts. It is no accident that it was during Liddell’s heyday that the sport of MMA went from the back pages to the front pages. Liddell had one thing that endears fans to fighters--bone-shattering power. His right hand was a feared weapon he used to level numerous fighters and fans arrived in flocks to watch Liddell do his thing.

Obviously, the reasons UFC went from a marginalized sport to a legitimate one are numerous. It certainly didn’t hurt, however, that as the sport was attempting to gain traction, the champion of their glamour division was a great titleholder like Liddell. Even today, light heavyweight has the air of being the premier division in the UFC, but it was certainly the case in Liddell’s day, when over half the best fighters in UFC fought in the 205-pound division.

Looking at Liddell’s resume reveals his excellence. Wins over Jeff Monson, Kevin Randleman, Vitor Belfort, Renato Sobral, Alistair Overeem, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, and Wanderlei Silva is only part of what he did. He was a highly-popular champion, one of the more consistently-entertaining fighters of the generation, and quite simply, one of the greats.

As a young man, Liddell learned a little boxing, became a wrestler in college, and was also an amateur kickboxer. At the time, MMA was little more than a sideshow in the United States. The UFC had some initial success, but by the time Liddell came aboard, it had sunk to embarrassing depths and was hanging on by a thread--far from the international juggernaut you see today.

It didn’t take long to see that Liddell could fight. He made his debut at UFC 17 with a win over Noe Hernandez. He took a fight in Brazil and beat respected Jose Landi-Jons, before fighting at UFC 19 and losing to submission expert Jeremy Horn. But then the wins started piling up and Liddell became to get known as a top contender. He was winning in different promotions, even winning a Pride fight in Japan against Guy Mezger in a thrilling knockout win.


Following wins over Murilo Bustamante, Vitor Belfort, and Renato Sobral, Liddell had distinguished himself as the top light heavyweight challenger, thus earning a crack at Randy Couture’s title. A TKO loss broke a long winning streak for Liddell, who was left searching for answers. This was 2003, a time when the UFC was still in a funk. Liddell went to Japan again, scoring a good win over Alistair Overeem, before falling to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for his second loss in three fights.

Liddell returned to the UFC and after scoring a big KO win over Tito Ortiz, earned a chance to take on Couture, This time, Liddell wouldn’t be denied, knocking out the Hall of Famer in the first round to become the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. What would ensue would be one of the more memorable reigns in UFC history.

Liddell, now peaking, had reversed the Couture loss. In his first defense, he avenged his defeat to Jeremy Horn, scoring a dominant 4th-round TKO. In defense number two, he settled the score with Randy Couture, winning their rubber match, this time by 2nd-round knockout. Old rival Renato Sobral was the next to feel the Liddell wrath, getting dusted off in just 1:35 of the first round.

In one of the biggest pay-per-view attractions up to that point, Liddell next faced Tito Ortiz again. In the third round, Liddell finished the ex-champ with punches in the Fight of the Night. As is often the case with great fighters, Liddell lost it and when he did, he lost it in a big way. He could not reverse his loss to Jackson, who knocked him out for the title in 2007. It was mostly downhill for Liddell after that, who would retire in 2010 after losing 5 of his last 6 fights, with several of those being by the knockout route. Liddell had lost his ability to take a punch and any solid connect threatened to discombobulate Liddell.

It was discomforting to see Liddell go out on such a sour note, but it doesn’t affect the good part of his legacy. He was a dominant fighter in his day with a list of victims that comprise the best 205-pounders of his era. He left an indelible mark on the sport will always be revered as one of guys who helped build the UFC into a global force.

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