- TRAINER SAYS CHUCK IS “ON HIS GAME”

May 21, 2007
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by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
Chuck Liddell’s longtime friend, training partner and trainer John Hackleman joined MMAWeekly’s SoundOff Radio show to talk about Chuck’s preparation and training camp for his upcoming fight with Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.

Hackleman has been with Liddell in some facet for the past 16 years now, and he said of this training camp, “This is the best training camp we’ve ever had. The best sparring partners, the best conditioning…he [Chuck] didn’t get one single injury, it was perfect in every way.”

With this fight, Liddell will look to avenge the only blotch on an otherwise spotless fighting career. Jackson bested Liddell by TKO in Pride’s Final Conflict in 2003, but since his losing effort in Japan ‘The Iceman’ has been on a tear, winning each of his last seven fights and avenging the only other losses on his (20-3) record by defeating Randy Couture by KO twice (UFC’s 52, 57) and Jeremy Horn by TKO (UFC 54).

Liddell’s rematch fight with ‘Rampage’ has garnered a lot of media attention of late with UFC 71 commercials constantly replaying on TV and with well-known news organizations such as NBC Sports and ESPNEWS covering the event. With all of Liddell’s recent celebrity, one might think that it would be difficult for Chuck to simply concentrate on fighting and not be sidetracked by all of the other hype surrounding him.

After all, Chuck has recently starred in HBO’s hit series “Entourage” and was even given a cover page and article in ESPN The Magazine. And of course, this notoriety all comes in addition to Chuck’s in-cage accolades and the legions of adoring fans that accompany being the UFC’s light-heavyweight champion.

But Hackleman sees Chuck’s status differently. He knows that Chuck is the same guy that he’s always been, save maybe a few extra zeros to contend with each April 15th…

“He [Chuck] comes into my house and uses my restroom – which I can’t usually use for an hour after that – and then he goes out to the cage or the gym in my back yard and trains just as he always has… nothing is different. He acts the same around the celebs as he does around his sparring partners. He treats everyone the same,” Hackleman said.

One thing that will be different in this fight, though, will be that Chuck has done all of his training with John Hackleman at “The Pit” in San Luis Obispo. Before his 2003 meeting with ‘Rampage,’ Chuck decided to try his hand learning some other styles in different places from some different people. After his loss to Jackson, though, Chuck said, “Back to the Pit,” and that is where he has remained for all of his pre-fight preparation in the years since.

John said, “He wanted to try some new things, but it just didn’t work for him and he just liked the old-school “Pit” way…we’ve got a good little ‘Entourage’ here.”

On this Saturday night, Liddell and his throng of fans are on one mission, revenge. Put aside the hype, forget the television appearances and even forget the fact that the UFC’s light-heavyweight belt is on the line. Liddell’s career will always be blemished unless he finds a way to separate ‘Rampage’ from his faculties. And those who have watched Chuck fight know that this is precisely what he will endeavor to do.

The only question left for Hackleman is simply, “How will Chuck beat Rampage?”

John said, “I think it’s going to be a great fight. I’ve got nothing but respect for Rampage…he’s a great fighter and a great guy. I love that guy and I think he’s a real asset to the sport. But I think it’s just going to be that Chuck is a little bit stronger, a little bit faster, a little more dynamic and a little more on his game right now…with the combination of things I think Chuck is going to be the victor. I don’t predict a knockout, I don’t predict a round…I just think that Chuck’s going to beat Rampage.”

Regardless of the victor on Saturday night, though, this fight is one for the fans. Neither of these two men wants to win or lose by decision and that is going to make for an energetic, entertaining fight. Be sure to tune in to see if the ‘Iceman’ can avenge his final loss or if ‘Rampage’ will take Chuck’s belt and go up on him 2-0. Only time will tell the outcome…and that time comes in Las Vegas on this Saturday night.

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