The Way It Is (and not much else)
Chuck Liddell vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Written by: Rich Davidson
On May 26th Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell, UFC light heavyweight champion extraordinaire, gets his chance at avenging the only un-avenged loss left on his record against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. The two met previously in Pride Fighting Championship's light heavyweight grand prix in 2003. Jackson was victorious.
If things unfold as they should, (which is a rarity recently) "Rampage" could and should win the rematch at UFC 71.
First, take their initial meeting into consideration. From bell to bell, Quinton Jackson dismantled Chuck Liddell's legendary stand up game. Perhaps more damaging to "The Iceman" was the fact that Rampage showed he was not afraid of being hit by Liddell, while still giving Chuck's kickboxing the respect it deserves.
Tito Ortiz, Renato "Babalu" Sobral, Jeremy Horn, and even Randy Couture were very cautious exchanging blows with the champion. Only when in danger did any of these men engage with any level of intensity, with the exception of Couture in his first and only win over Liddell. Quinton Jackson only knows how to go straight forward, full bore. Going backwards just doesn't fit his character or his fighting style.
Also in their Pride fight, Jackson showed that he can take Chuck down and control him. You don't see that happen very often. Liddell's takedown defense and sprawl are well documented, ala Mirko Cro Cop, but after being on the losing end of the stand up exchange, his defense fell victim to Jackson's superior wrestling skills. This trend actually began in Chuck's first fight with Couture, where he suffered the same fate. If you don't believe me, pick up a copy of UFC 43.
Jackson's chin is also top notch. Rampage has already eaten some of Liddell's best shots, and he took them in stride. Add the likes of heavy-handed Igor Vovchanchyn, Ricardo Arona, Murilo Ninja, and Shogun Rua to that list as well. He's been knocked out, lights out, in only one outing. In brutal and bloody fashion, it took a heavy clinched knee attack (following a heavy left hook) from former Pride middleweight champion and Pride gate-keeper Wanderlei Silva to get the job done.
Chuck's condition always comes into question. How hard did he train? How hard did he have to train? Liddell is notorious for his numerous knockout punches from all angles. This is admirable not only because it gives the fans what they want to see, but it also negates Liddell from ever having to go the distance. In his heart, "The Iceman" truly believes he can end this fight early. That mentality fueled by his recent string of knockout victories will undoubtedly hinder his training. Jackson isn't a training marvel by any means, but when was the last time a Chuck Liddell fight went into the fourth and fifth rounds?
The longer this fight goes, the worse it will be for Liddell, and the better it will be for Jackson. History makes this statement true.
The Way It Is: Chuck Liddell's run as UFC light heavyweight champion is second to none. The amount of fan support he has acquired through season one of the Ultimate Fighter reality show and his highlight reel of knockout victories is astonishing. However, this is the reality of this confrontation: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson brings more to this fight than Chuck Liddell does. His heavy hands, awesome wrestling, huge takedowns and slams, and "no fear" mentality make this a bad match up for "The Iceman". All these points were proven true in their first fight.
Popular arguments in favor of Liddell center around the fact that much time has passed since the 2003 fight, Chuck hasn't lost since, and that Rampage has suffered three violent losses in the meantime. As true as these statements may be, they don't take away from the fact that Chuck Liddell is still primarily a one-trick, one-punch pony, and that Quinton Jackson, through shear toughness, can survive. He's already done it once. If Chuck can't knock Jackson out early, what can he do?
The answer is simple. Nothing. In the octagon, he's never submitted anybody and he's hasn't gone the distance with anyone in years. He may knock Rampage out with a trademark overhand right or uppercut. He's certainly capable, but it won't be easy. Others, with power comparable to Liddell's, have tried and failed. The Iceman makes that class.
Most people have a backwards opinion in this fight. Rampage has been dubbed "underdog" based on Chuck Liddell's knockout victories in the past and his impressive win streak. Realistically, the question shouldn't be "Does Quinton Jackson have the tools to beat Chuck Liddell?" Logically, the question should be "Does Chuck Liddell, at this stage in his career, have the tools to beat Quinton Rampage Jackson?" If he couldn't get the job done in 2003, why would he now?
Like it or not, with the exception of Chuck Liddell's popularity, not enough has changed since the first fight to make the outcome at UFC 71 any different.
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