Liddell and “Mask” Inducted to UFC Hall of Fame – Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr., the late co-founder of TapouT Clothing, are the latest members to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
“I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the MGM and how loud it was,” Liddell said after he accepted the beautifully-crafted crystal award. “And it was us walking out there, it wasn’t just me. Back then we couldn’t get this many people in here to watch a fight, much less to see a guy talk.”
It was a touching night for all as Liddell was introduced by UFC president Dana White and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, both close personal friends of the former champ.
“This is a guy who has defined a sport,” said Lorenzo. “When you think about the UFC, he personifies the UFC. Whenever anybody sees that logo, I think they think of Chuck Liddell. He will forever be a part of the UFC, he will always be tied to us in every way. He’s a special person because he never did it for the fame, he never did it for the money – Chuck is a 100 percent fighter. It’s something he was born with.”
White spoke about the trio’s early struggles together in trying to obtain mainstream acceptance. Although White has received much flack for openly suggesting that the 39-year-old Liddell, who has dropped four of his last five scraps, should retire, it was clear that White truly cares for “The Iceman.”
“Once we bought the UFC and we started to get on the road to educate people and sell the sport, Chuck was on the road with me a lot,” said White. “We spent a lot of time traveling to all these cities, doing radio appearances, anything we could do to get the sport out there. This guy has been more than a superstar to us and a guy who sells pay-per-views. This guy has been such a close friend to Lorenzo and I and a true partner.”
Adding to the emotional night was the fact that the second inductee was unable to physically attend the ceremony. White and Liddell were visibly moved when talking about Lewis, their long-time friend.
The charismatic MMA icon was tragically killed earlier this year by a drunk driver.
“When Lorenzo and I first met him, this was a guy who had this aura about him and this persona,” said White of Lewis. “I don’t care when you met him or what happened in his life that day, this guy was never in a bad mood. He was always upbeat and positive about everything. He was a big part of helping us attack a lot of grassroots marketing in getting the UFC out there.
“TapouT was an established brand with the hardcore fans when we bought the UFC. And in every shipment they’d send out they’d put UFC flyers in there. Anything they could do, to help grow the sport, they did. He was an amazing human being – he loved fights, he loved the sport, and he dedicated his life to it when it looked like there would never be any money in it. You want to talk about risktakers, innovators, guys who have a vision and who believe in something where they’re willing to risk everything to do it – Charles Lewis and the guys from TapouT are just like us, and they were here before us.”
“The Iceman” and Lewis have joined the likes of Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture and Mark Coleman as the Hall’s only members.
Lewis is the only inductee to never have fought for the company, however his influence on the sport of mixed martial arts rained down harder than any Anderson Silva Muay Thai knee to the grill ever could.
Don’t forget to follow 5thRound.com on Twitter at twitter.com/5thRound