During his debut appearance on Dancing With the Stars last week, Chuck Liddell tried to pretend that he was Mr. Nice Guy Charming Won’t Punch Your Face In, and his discomfort was palpable. Last night, the gloves came off (literally), and Chuck was out for blood. Highlights included Anna Trebunskaya’s spot-on John Hackleman impression at the very beginning, and the insane Iceman pose at 1:14. (Is he going to end every dance like that from now on? We can only hope.) The performance earned Liddell a score of 19, which tied him for second-to-last with three other competitors. Only Tom DeLay and Kathy Ireland fared worse, with scores of 18. In other words, the Iceman will probably live to dance another day.
Heart breaker/dream maker/love taker Chuck Liddell assaults the dancefloor again on tonight’s installment of Dancing With the Stars (ABC, 8/7c), following his debut last week, which kind of sucked, but not as much as Macy Gray’s. As you can see from the above photo, Chuck’s dance partner Anna Trebunskaya may already be cracking from the pressure of dealing with the Iceman, though Liddell himself seems to be having a freakin’ blast. Seriously, I wonder what kind of crazy voices he was doing to go along with those Henson-caliber sock puppets! More Please, indeed! Anyway, watch and vote if you have absolutely nothing better to do tonight.
For those of you who didn’t watch it last night — which includes myself, so this post is as much for me as it is for you — here’s Chuck Liddell‘s debut performance on Dancing With the Stars. The first thing that sticks out is his voice in the intro. Liddell’s from Cali, but he’s taken so many blows to the head over the years that he’s starting to sound like a grizzled Sam Elliott. Anna Trebunskaya‘s main piece of advice to Chuck is to smile so he doesn’t come off as a psychopath. Things start out well enough, though the discomfort is obvious on Chuck’s face at the 2:27 mark, and there are a few obviously botched steps. It doesn’t help that Dana White and the Fertitta Brothers are in the front row, laughing their asses off at him the whole time.
Constructive criticism from the judges starts at 3:51: Bruno refers to Chuck as a "gentle neanderthal" and says he has some work to do. Carrie Ann Inaba calls him "smooth" but wants him to improve his footwork. The old guy in the middle asks him to get in touch with his feminine side, and is lucky he didn’t get punched out for it. Chuck’s combined score of 22 put him in 5th place among the eight celebs who competed last night.
("My name’s Chuck. You can call me Mr. Seduction." Image courtesy of BloodyElbow.)
Repent, for judgment day is upon us. Tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT, the ninth season of Dancing With the Stars will premiere on ABC, featuring the Iceman himself, Chuck Liddell. Tune in to find out how Chuck responds to criticism from this doofus. For those of you who think Liddell is going to get blown out of the competition early, prepare to be shocked. According to TMZ, he’s given up alcohol for the gig, and is actually a dark horse to go all the way: "Our spies say he’s really good and practices like a mutha. One source says he gets to practice early and shuts the place down, with 6 hour, uninterrupted power sessions. And get this — we’re told he’s already lost 20 lbs."
If there’s one thing we’ve learned during our travels through this crazy world of mixed martial arts, it’s that you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. There are only a few different types of MMA fans, and they tend to gravitate towards certain fighters. For example, let’s say your favorite fighter is…
(That’s you on the left.) You are without a doubt the hippest dude you know.You were the first to start wearing skinny jeans and also the first to stop, proving your bona fides as a trendsetter.You like to think that you appreciate the finer elements of striking technique more than most MMA fans, but really you just parrot things Joe Rogan has said (“ballet of violence”) while listing off all the ways that Silva is like a modern-day Bruce Lee.You sometimes wear glasses you don’t really need and you pretend to like jazz.You think of yourself as a good dancer. Your favorite fight:Silva vs. Rich Franklin I
You’ve been watching MMA for years, and it’s important to you that people know that.You have an extensive collection of ironic t-shirts and Pride DVD’s.You work in the IT department of a moderately-sized company, where you used to feel bad for the people who pester you for help all day because, honestly, how did anyone even get that clueless?Now you despise them and don’t go to very much trouble to hide it.You are probably overweight, but you’re quick to tell people that it doesn’t necessarily mean you are out of shape or aren’t a good athlete.You don’t date much but there’s this girl in Illinois who you have a thing with over the internet, which you refer to as ‘the web.’Someone in a bar once asked you if you thought Fedor would stand a chance against Brock Lesnar.You laughed out loud.Okay, so they were talking to someone else and you overheard them, and when they noticed you laughing you pretended to be coughing, but still.The ignorance of some people. Your favorite fight:Fedor vs. Mirko Filipovic
A punch-drunk fighter with a heart of gold learns to love himself again through the graceful (life) lessons of an auburn-haired dance instructor. No, it’s not the plot of a new Mickey Rourke/Isla Fisher romantic comedy. It’s Chuck Liddell‘s real fuckin’ life, so get used to it. (It’ll help if you put on this song, and try to pretend that this is all just part of some badass training montage.) Season nine of Dancing With the Stars premieres on September 21st. Will the Iceman’s moves be up to snuff, or will the judges starch him harder than Sugar and Shogun combined? And what are the odds that Kimbo Slice will join DWtS for season 10? Previously: Chuck Liddell’s Dance Partner: This Russian Chick
If it wasn’t for bad luck, Strikeforce’s upcoming “Carano vs. Cyborg” card wouldn’t have any luck at all. Despite the best intentions, some MMA events are destined to be magnets for injuries, unwelcome surprises, and other bizarre occurrences. But which events have been screwed by fate the hardest? Knock on wood, grab your crotch, and read on…
The aptly-titled “All or Nothing” event was the first UFC pay-per-view in nearly a year to lack a title fight by the time it finally took place. That’s all the more disappointing when you consider that it had two a couple months out from the event, pitting TUF “Comeback” winners Matt Serra and Travis Lutter against the champions in their respective weight classes.
The first title fight went down the drain when Georges St. Pierre injured his knee during training and had to put off the fight with Serra (and we all remember how that went when it finally happened). Fortunately they still had Anderson Silva vs. Travis Lutter to fall back on…right? Only Lutter failed to make weight for his title shot, downgrading his “Rocky” storyline to a “Bad News Bears” one. Instead they just had themselves a normal old three-rounder, with Lutter holding his own in the first round before getting triangled/elbowed to death in the second. What fun.
One was perhaps the greatest light heavyweight of all-time, a feared striker who ruled the 205-pound weight class with an iron right hand and in doing so became mixed martial arts’ first crossover superstar. The other was his close friend, a visionary who helped create a brand that is now synonymous with the sport, but who did it not with a ruthless business sense, but with an infectious enthusiasm and an attitude that could light up a room. On Friday, July 10th, the UFC Hall of Fame inducts its two newest members, former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and TapouT co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis.
Another fight that has been discussed internally is Chuck Liddell facing Rich Franklin. Dana White has seemingly accepted the idea that Chuck is going to want another fight, and he would much rather have Liddell inside the UFC cage than to have him go and be a huge drawing card for Strikeforce or Affliction.
Despite the country’s rich martial arts history, Japan didn’t have an MMA star to call its own until the arrival of a brilliant submission artist who would eventually be known as The Gracie Hunter. Kazushi Sakuraba originally toiled as a professional wrestler in the early ‘90s, picking up catch wrestling from Billy Robinson. As a publicity stunt for their employers at Kingdom Pro Wrestling, Sakuraba and Yoji Anjoh entered the four-man heavyweight tournament at UFC Japan, and despite being severely outweighed, Sakuraba was the last man standing.
In advance of Rashad Evans‘s title fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 98, our man Genghis has put together this short profile video, covering Sugar’s greatest moments in the UFC. The subtle gunshot sound when Evans KOs Chuck Liddell is a great little touch. We’ve heard a lot from the Machida fans lately — anybody think Rashad goes home with his belt on Saturday?
Such is the power of Chuck. He can give a horribly tone-deaf performance of "Don’t Stop Believin’" and still manage to draw a line of hot girls waiting to blow him backstage, as if he were the lead singer of Steel Panther. You can take away his livelihood, but don’t you dare take away his right to sing karaoke and bang groupies.
“Obviously, John Hackleman didn’t pay his house off yet. John Hackleman needs some money, because anybody who claims they care about Chuck Liddell even a little bit would not be making these f–king statements. …He’s never been a decision-maker in Chuck’s career. I can tell you this: He didn’t make Chuck Liddell. Chuck Liddell made John Hackleman. How many great, talented guys do you see coming out of John Hackleman’s place? He’s no Greg Jackson. He’s no Mark DellaGrotte. He’s no American Top Team. He’s not one of the great camps. Chuck Liddell made him.”
(15% off that creepy Chuck cut-out? Why, I’d be losing money if I didn’t buy it!)
Subtlety has never been something the UFC does particularly well, so I suppose it’s only fitting that they approach Chuck Liddell’s forced retirement with the same lack of sensitivity and tact. According to an email sent out by the UFC earlier today, just about everything in the UFC store with the words “Chuck” or “Liddell” or “Iceman” on it is hitting the clearance rack. Consider it their way of saying, ‘Thanks for the memories, Chuck. Now help us move all your shit into storage so we can make room for the new line of Amir Sadollah baby tees.’
Is it a little cold-hearted? Yeah, but that’s life in the UFC. One day you’re on top of the world, and the next they’re giving away your signature tank tops to bewildered villagers in Africa.
The best UFC highlight-reel of the week comes from BH, who has compiled some of the greatest Octagon moments of 2008-2009 (and Nick Diaz‘s 2007 PRIDE fight against Takanori Gomi, for some reason) — into this uplifting clip. Using Coldplay to soundtrack an MMA video is a risky move, but it actually works here, in a "Where the Hell Is Matt?" sort of way. From Akihiro Gono‘s legendary entrance at UFC 94 to the various disappointments of Chuck Liddell — it’s definitely worth a look.
After the jump: A Lyoto Machida-specific highlight reel from firelotus09. Just like Lyoto’s fights, the action doesn’t start right away; if you’re impatient, skip to the 1:43 mark and prepare to be Dragon’d.
MMA Fanhouse tips us that two new names will be added to the UFC Hall of Fame during the UFC Fan Expo on July 10th, the day before UFC 100 — meaning there’s only two months left before our t-shirt becomes outdated (at which point we’ll jack up the price and call it a "collector’s item," obviously). As the official announcement goes:
Join us on Friday, July 10, immediately following UFC President Dana White’s keynote address, as two worthy members of the UFC world will join the ranks of Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Ken Shamrock, Randy Couture, and Royce Gracie when they are inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. You won’t want to miss this historical event happening right on the UFC Fan Expo show floor!
ESPN "First Take" brought Shaquille O’Neal’s personal trainer on so he could talk about the Diesel’s MMA training and mention the name of his gym and its website no less than a dozen times. The interviewer here seems oddly amused by her own ignorance of MMA, and really presses this guy to give her odds on the possibility of a Shaq vs. Chuck Liddell fight in the UFC. Let me put it to you this way, lady: there’s about as much chance of that fight happening in the UFC as there is of you taking over for Larry King when he finally retires/dies. Got it now?
American Top Team boxing coach and Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. spoke with me about his work with Chuck Liddell prior to his UFC 97 loss against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Contrary to what some people believe, Davis said he really did work with Liddell for about two and a half months, and while he didn’t change his style he did try to add a couple tools to Liddell’s game. Here Davis talks about what Liddell’s recent loss means for his career, and whether he thinks the former UFC champ should call it quits like Dana White is insisting he do. He also touches on the addictive “drug” of being a world champion fighter, and why he thinks Liddell has seemed more vulnerable in recent bouts – and it’s not because he’s getting old.
We still have to wait 18 more days for this thing to pop off, but in the meantime, here’s some preview trash-talk from UFC 98′s extended trailer. While Rashad Evans keeps it simple, predicting he’ll take Lyoto Machida out in the third round, the Dragon gets all poetic ("My philosophy is the same as the samurai…my body is my sword, my mind is my blade.") According to Dana White, it will be the first time in UFC history that two undefeated fighters will fight for a title.
Meanwhile, Matt Hughes and Matt Serra share their own differing philosophies. Joe Rogan calls their match a must-win fight for both guys if they want to continue fighting in the UFC. For Serra, beating up Matt Hughes is more important than picking up the W. "Let’s send him packin’," he says. "Who the hell wants that guy around anymore? Not me."
After the jump: Get your daily dose of MMA-related laffs with two more must-see clips.
("No one is going to tell [Liddell] when he’s going to stop fighting," says John Hackleman. Photo courtesy of MMA Ring Report.)
In his prime, he was a Destroyer of Worlds. But the Chuck Liddell we saw lose to Mauricio Rua at UFC 97 earlier this month was so deteriorated that retirement talk was inevitable. Liddell’s footwork was achingly slow, and Rua proved that the holes in the Iceman’s defense could be punctured even after Liddell had spent months trying to patch them up. (Though maybe not.) These facts were clearer to Dana White than anyone else. Directly after the event, White announced that Chuck would absolutely be retiring from the sport, profits be damned. Later, he promised "a fucking war" if Liddell refused to hang up his gloves, ostensibly because he didn’t want to see his longtime friend permanently injured.
Well, Chuck hasn’t retired yet. And Dana might get that fucking war after all.
Rashad Evans may be the UFC light heavyweight champ, but the title doesn’t seem to have gone to his head. Talking with him last week he mentioned that it’s both humbling and sobering to be at a point in his career where he’s the headlining attraction on a card with legendary UFC fighters he came up watching.
“Seeing a guy like Matt Hughes, it makes me kind of wonder, how did I get to be headlining over Matt Hughes on a UFC card? I mean, Matt Hughes? It’s Matt Hughes, man. It just makes you really stop and think.”
2) Make sure the volume control on the above YouTube player is all the way down. Trust us, you don’t want to hear this mess.
3) Hit play on the video and on your iTunes as close to simultaneously as you can manage.
4) Find something else to do until about the 1:41 mark. Those blue toenails can only belong to one man.
5) Now watch carefully starting at 2:10. Mandy seduces the easily-seduceable Chuck Liddell by opening up her trenchcoat. Chuck gives her the dumbest drooling man-child look before realizing, "Hey, why is this chick who just caught me banging her sister trying to show me her tits? Uh-oh."
(When he told her it was time to retire and give up the game for good, a tearful Paris Hilton told Dana: "But I am the game!" Only then did he fully understand the devils of fame and the ransom they demand. True story.)
- UFC president Dana White talked with Inside Fighting about the disappointing main event at UFC 97, and he also reiterated his commitment to keeping Chuck Liddell firmly in retirement, saying, “Believe me, it will be a fucking war if he tries not to retire, believe me.” When pressed on other rapidly aging fighters who might need to be nudged into retirement, White admitted that Wanderlei Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira “are right there too and yes, I will pull the trigger on them too.” Dear God, he’s not going to kill them, is he?!
- A crazy rumor on the information superhighway says that Fedor Emelianenko and Shinya Aoki will square off against each other in a special grappling match at the “Deep M-1 Challenge 3rd Edition” in Japan on April 29th. I’ll pause a moment and let that one sink in. If true this would be completely insane, but to deny that we would totally want to see it would be to deny the very curiosity of the spirit that makes us human, and we aren’t about to do that.
"I felt so bad for him to see him go out like that. He is a great person and a legend and when you see that as a fighter, you get a small glimpse of your own demise in the sport. At one point, he was unstoppable, but I guess the saying is true, ‘Nothing stays gold forever’."
"There were no changes [in Liddell's style and preparation]. I knew that before the fight because an inside source told me that it was just a front. It’s too late for him. His reactions and ability to take punishment is gone and you could never get that back…He deteriorated so fast, it’s not even funny. Just a season ago he was on his way back after his win over Wandy and now, it’s over. You have to wonder if he is on the border of a medical problem."
I’ll refrain from making any young lion/old lion analogies, but yes, we’ve finally seen the last gasp of the Tito/Randy/Chuck era of the UFC, and it’ll be a somber week for some MMA fans. The new generation has taken over in full force, led by fighters like Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, GSP, and Brock Lesnar. And maybe one of these days, Jon Jones is going to spinning-backfist Rashad Evans into a living death, and we’ll start talking about how great Sugar used to be until he started slowing down just enough for younger guys to pick him apart. It’s the circle of life. Still, this claim that Liddell was just frontin’ about working on the holes in his standup game? Well damn, dude. If you hope to hang with fighters who are more than ten years younger than you, you have to put in the work. The UFC front office doesn’t need any loafers.