FiveOuncesOfPain.com contacted former PRIDE USA V.P. Jerry Millen to get his reaction on Chuck Liddell’s recent unanimous decision loss to Keith Jardine at UFC 76, which potentially spoiled another shot at a long-awaited dreamatch between Liddell and former PRIDE middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva.
UFC president Dana White was critical of PRIDE management last year after a proposed match between Liddell and Silva fell through in large part because Silva suffered a devstating knockout loss to Mirko Cro Cop in September during PRDIE’s open weight Grand Prix.
“Dana White is a hypocrite,” Millen stated exclusively to FiveOuncesOfPain.com. “He said that PRIDE blew the biggest match up in MMA history when we had Cro-Cop/Silva and Silva lost. In turn he had the opportunity to put Wanderlei against Chuck this past weekend, being Wanderlei was under UFC contract. Dana had the power to change the Liddell/Jardine match but chose not to. MMA fans wanted that fight and should have gotten it, but Dana — the self professed God OF MMA — decided to wait until December. Well, now what?”
Since Liddell’s loss there has been much speculation of his future from reports of possible retirement, to talk that he’s interested in fighting Mauricio “Shogun” Rua on Dec. 29 at UFC 79 in Las Vegas. If it was up to Millen, he’d still go ahead with the Silva vs. Liddell dreamatch.
“I think the fight should still happen,” he said. “People do want to see it. If it doesn’t happen in December, Dana White will have killed the most anticipated matchup in MMA to date. With both guys coming off of two loses in a row, the bulidup could be huge if Dana handles it right.”
Due to Millen’s past close affiliation to PRIDE and its former fighters, we decided to ask him if he had a theory as to why former PRIDE staples such as Cro Cop and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua have struggled since their UFC debuts.
It wasn’t an assessment Millen completely agreed with.
“First off, I want to state that I still believe (UFC light heavyweight champion) Quinton Jackson is a PRIDE fighter,” said Millen. “Quinton has improved as a fighter but in my heart, Quinton Jackson is still a PRIDE fighter. He came over to the UFC and he’s kicked some ass.”
In regard to Cro Cop, Millen believes that the different rules used by PRIDE and the UFC might have played a role in some of their subpar showings.
“I saw Cro Cop fight Eddie Sanchez live and while I think it could have been nerves, the transition from a cage to ring appeared to be an issue,” Millen said. “If you watch Cro Cop, in PRIDE he was real good at backing his opponents into corners. In the Octagon, he couldn’t corner Sanchez and had to chase him around.”
We also asked Millen for his thoughts as to whether Cro Cop should continue to fight.
“I’ve seen a lot of Cro Cop fights and the guy is a monster; I’ve seen him destroy people,” Millen responded. “God knows what’s happened? It goes back to the cage and the different rules. I read that he said he hadn’t trained for elbows and in the UFC they throw elbows — which is a whole different world. I also think he’s having a hard time finding his range with his left high kick.
“Do I think he’ll ever be the UFC heavyweight champion? No, but I do think Cro Cop has something left and that we’ll see highlights from him in the UFC because he was such a great fighter while with PRIDE.”
And, as for Shogun?
“I’m not really sure what happened with Shogun,” stated Millen. “Maybe nerves played a role? The Shogun I saw at UFC 76 was not the Shogun that I know. I just think there is a huge difference between the cage and the ring and we’re starting to see that.”
Not to be outdone, Millen couldn’t resist taking a parting shot at his former archnemesis.
“Sometimes I think Dana should go back to his past and schedule aerobics classes and let a professional handle the matchups, because he clearly needs some help!”
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