by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
When the possible match up with Wanderlei Silva for UFC 76 fell through and Keith Jardine was named as Chuck Liddell’s next opponent, reports surfaced that the former UFC light heavyweight champion picked Jardine as his opponent. Liddell recently spoke with MMAWeekly, setting the record straight about how the fight with Jardine transpired.
The reports that surfaced last week stated that Chuck Liddell (the #3 light heavyweight in the MMAWeekly World MMA Rankings) was offered potential fights against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (the #1-ranked light heavyweight), Kazuhiro Nakamura (the #10-ranked light heavyweight), Lyoto Machida, or Keith Jardine, and that he chose to take on Jardine. Liddell emphatically denied those reports.
Liddell told MMAWeekly, “I’ve never hand-picked an opponent. I’m not going to. There would be no reason to hand-pick Jardine. The only time I’ve ever asked for a guy is when I asked to fight Kevin Randleman because I wanted to fight a guy that had a name at the time because they kept giving me guys as little known as I was. I think that’s the only time I’ve ever asked for someone specifically.”
“They talked to me about fighting Wanderlei in September, and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s fine. Cool. Perfect.’ Then I heard it fell out. I assumed they were going to put me with Shogun [Rua] because I knew he was on the same card. I figured they would put me with Shogun, but they came to me and said they wanted me to fight Keith. I’m not complaining. I don’t argue with people about who I’m going to fight. I fight whoever they tell me to,” explained Liddell.
He added, “The way I’ve always done it is they ask me if I want to fight on this day. I say, ‘Yes, so by the way, who am I fighting?'”