(‘No, it isn’t funny. What happened to the dress I bought you? The one with an actual neckline? It’s like you want people to stare or something. Oh, now I get it.’)
You know what time it is. Time to get serious about the important questions surrounding UFC 97. Questions like, ‘What the hell are we getting for our money here?’ and ‘What’s up with your stupid face, stupid?’ That’s right. It’s Ben vs. Ben time.
What exactly does Chuck Liddell have to do to prove that he’s still got it? Is anything less than a devastating KO going to be enough?
BG: It’ll either have to be a knockout, or an incredibly dominant decision victory where all three judges score it 30-24 and Shogun Rua‘s face looks like hamburger afterwards. Here’s the deal: There’s no way that Shogun could have magically set the clock back to 2005 in the three months since he barely defeated Mark Coleman at UFC 93, and I think we all expect a shabby performance out of him tomorrow night. So Chuck basically has to prove that although he may no longer be able to hang with younger, more complete fighters, his skills haven’t deteriorated as much as Rua’s have.
If both fighters turn in mediocre efforts, the UFC will have a hard time figuring out what to do with them. (You can’t cut the winner and the loser. Can you?) That was probably Dana White’s motivation for calling out Liddell in public and demanding a dazzling performance — if Chuck fails again, there’s no obvious next step with him, promotion-wise. Do you throw him against talented up-and-comers like Luis Cane and Jon Jones, who might smash his old ass? Do you try to build him back up against complete cans? Either way, he won’t be in important fights anymore, and that may not be an option for the UFC, or for Chuck himself.
BF: The only way a decision victory would be enough for Liddell is if a) Rua fights like it’s the 2005 Pride GP all over again, b) Chuck still comes close to finishing him several times, and c) after the fight all we can talk about is what amazing heart and conditioning Rua showed in merely surviving that assault.