by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
“I know his plan is to try to tire me out and take me long rounds and win the later rounds, but I’ll be ready to go – I don’t think it’s going to make it to the fifth round – but I’ll be ready with a lot of pop and ready to pound him in the fifth round if need be.”
These were the thoughts of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell, who is the #1 Light Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings, when he joined MMAWeekly’s SoundOff Radio show to give his thoughts on his upcoming fight with former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz, who is currently the #7 Light Heavyweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings.
Liddell sounded relaxed even when reminded of the magnitude of the fight he is about to participate in, thus living up to his moniker ‘The Iceman.’
Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz first fought back in 2004 with Liddell winning the contest with – surprise – his heavy hands.
Tito’s game plan was suspect in that fight, but since his growth as a fighter and the maturity that has come with him having been involved in a growing number of tough, close fights [Vitor Belfort and Forrest Griffin both come to mind], it is very likely that Tito will come in with a much better and much more calculated game plan this time around.
When asked whether or not he felt that the Tito he will face Saturday is the same Tito that he faced in 2004, Liddell said, “I think that he’s the same style…I think he’s gotten a little better at certain things, but I think for the most part he’s still got the same style of fighting.”
Every time Liddell fights, he entertains…but what did ‘The Iceman’ have to say about his how he feels when the fans are roaring, the cameras are rolling and fight time has come?
“I get excited walking out no matter what it is…I get to go out and fight right now. I’ve been working three months to get there and I’m just excited to be out there fighting. When it comes down to it, when they close the cage it’s just me and him. I love having the crowd out there and I love having them behind us and I love that roar when you walk out, but it comes down to two guys fighting in the middle of the ring,” Liddell said.
Most everyone knows that Liddell and Ortiz’s first fight was personal. The only question is…has anything changed?
“It’s always going to be personal as far as training for it goes, but it’s never going to be personal as far as fights go,” Liddell said.
Chuck continued, “I’m not an emotional fighter. I’m a calculated fighter and I’m going to go out there and do what I do…I’m going to try to impose my will on him make it my fight.”
Most everyone knows that Tito is a very passionate fighter who desperately wants to beat Chuck to retain what he still calls ‘his’ light-heavyweight championship belt. With the belt clearly being Chuck’s at this point and not Tito’s, is there any added animosity on Chuck’s part when he hears Tito make these various statements?
“That’s what he should say…I wouldn’t expect anything else. What would he be doing in this sport if he wasn’t trying to get his title back,” Liddell said.
If Chuck does happen to get by Tito on Saturday night, the next fight on his horizon may very well be Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson – the last man to hold a win over Liddell. Since the news broke recently that the UFC had purchased the WFA – the company in which ‘Rampage’ has a contract – the prospect of Chuck getting the opportunity to avenge his last loss to Jackson just became much more probable.
When the news finally broke about the WFA, Liddell said, “I was very excited.”
Chuck continued, “That’s going to be great for me…that’s the last loss on my record, but right now I’m not worried about that. I’m going to go out there and worry about taking care of Tito and moving on after that. We’ll worry about Quinton and some of the other guys when I’m done.”
Fans have speculated before how much longer Chuck will fight before he decides to finally hang up his gloves, but according to Liddell he still has plenty of fight left in him.
Many people still wonder, though, if Chuck beats Tito and then Rampage, could Liddell’s retirement be the next big announcement?
“I’m looking at retiring on top as the champion, but not after those two fights,” Chuck said.
Liddell continued, “I’ve still got a lot more in me. I’m hoping for another 2-3 years of fighting…6, 9, 10, 12 fights I hope I still got in me, so we’ll see what my body will let me do, but right now I’m feeling great. I’m as sharp as I ever have been and I’m in great shape, so I think I could go for a long time.”
Tune in Saturday night to see the long-awaited rematch between ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Tito Ortiz and ‘The Iceman’ Chuck Liddell. This fight will likely be the most watched fight in UFC history so be sure to grab a ticket or watch the fight live on PPV to catch all of the electrifying UFC action.