(As long as he still has his hearing, he’ll always have a puncher’s chance. Props to AmidaHidan.)
Like Kendall Grove before him, UFC president Dana White has made it clear that Chuck Liddell‘s job might be on the line if he doesn’t step up his game. The Iceman, who has lost three of his last four fights, takes on Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 97 (April 18th, Montreal) and simply winning might not be enough. As White explains to the Telegraph-Journal:
We assumed that because of his drawing power and history with the company, Liddell would be able to fight in the UFC for as long as he wanted to. But it sounds like Dana is genuinely concerned for Chuck’s health. His reaction time is slowing, and rival fighters have figured out the increasingly predictable holes in his standup game. That only translates to more brain-rattling KO losses in the future.
Luckily, Mauricio Rua is as good a comeback opponent as any. If Shogun shows up in the kind of piss-poor shape he was in for the Mark Coleman fight in January, Liddell has a great chance of coming out on top, and maybe even "dazzling" his boss with a dramatic knockout. And if that happens, it’ll be interesting to see if Rua is given a similar "win big or get lost" ultimatum for his next fight — or if he’s simply fired on the spot.
The full 12-fight lineup for UFC 97 was confirmed on Friday; you can check it out after the jump.
Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites (for middleweight championship)
Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio Rua (LHW)
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Brian Stann (LHW)
Cheick Kongo vs. Antoni Hardonk (HW)
Steve Cantwell vs. Luis Cane (LHW)
Denis Kang vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam
Eliot Marshall vs. Mike Ciesnolevicz
Nate Quarry vs. Jason MacDonald
David Loiseau vs. Ed Herman
Mark Bocek vs. David Bielkheden
Ryo Chonan vs. TJ Grant
Sam Stout vs. Matt Wiman