Not too long ago, Chuck Liddell was the most feared striker in mixed martial arts. Liddell’s mohawk became synonymous with the UFC, as it was plastered on everything from ESPN the Magazine covers to a cameo on the pop culture phenomenon Entourage.
Fast forward five years and you’ll find the 40-year-old has lost four of his last five scraps, with three of them ending in knockout fashion. While UFC president and longtime homeboy Dana White was busy dumping dirt on his illustrious career, Liddell stared in the mirror and decided he needed to flip the script ASAP.
“Yeah, I needed to change [my lifestyle],” Liddell confessed during yesterday’s UFC 115 pre-fight press conference. “I came into training camp and I trained hard and I did everything I was supposed to, but I spent much too much time in the off-season out and having a little too much fun – and not getting better or letting my body heal, for that matter.
“I’d spend most of camp getting in shape and getting ready, losing weight and not working on things I should have been working on. I decided that if this is what I gotta do to get right, this is what I gotta do. I feel great, I’ve been going since November.”
During Liddell’s dominant run atop the UFC’s light heavyweight division, which included seven straight Octagon victories, four coming in consecutive title defenses – Chucky certainly lived up to his rockstar persona. He was infamous for his post-fight celebratory speeches where he promoted his ruckus after parties on The Las Vegas Strip.
White recently said the reason he was forcing Liddell out the door wasn’t because he was losing consciousness in practically every fight, but the former champ’s dedication just didn’t warrant competing against MMA’s next generation.
“He was out partying every night and doing the wrong thing, not the right thing,” White told Fighters Only. “He wasn’t living the life of a professional athlete.
“He and I sat down and talked and I will tell you what, he has kept his word. He has been phenomenal shape since the beginning of “The Ultimate Fighter” and it will be interesting to see how he does.”
Now that Liddell appears to have located The Fountain of Youth, and seems to be guzzling its riches by the gallon, the UFC Hall of Famer is looking to extend his career “for one final title run.”
Iceman 2.0 will take his first steps down the familiar 205-pound title road when he meets Rich Franklin Saturday at UFC 115.