Something tells me that deep down Chuck Liddell wants that one last fight. Liddell is the most popular fighter on the planet and a proud former champion to boot, there’s no way a fighter with his mentality is going to walk away on a sour note like his most recent TKO loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. I just don’t see that sitting very well with Chuck during his many years of life that will follow his retirement from the sport.
It’s fairly safe to say that there are very few fans of the sport that have any type of desire to watch Liddell catching another beatdown on live television. This is the number one reason behind Dana White and many others desire to see the former light heavyweight champ walk away from the sport while he still can.
With that being said, I don’t feel like there would be much if any interest in watching Liddell face off against another top contender in his next fight.
Has Liddell lost his ability to win in the Octagon? Hardly. There are still a handful of fights that the San Luis Obispo slugger still win in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
If anything Chuck should, if he already hasn’t, accept the fact that another title run at this point is just not going to happen. To justify another title shot for “The Iceman” anytime in the future he would need to avenge at least two of his most recent four losses at the very minimum in my estimation. While he has a decent chance of figuring out Keith Jardine in a rematch, I feel like the chances of Chuck obtaining revenge against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans or Shogun are slim to none. Not to say it couldn’t happen, just trying to be as realistic as possible.
So who do you give the legend in his farewell fight? We’ve already established that there is no real point in giving him a legitimate contender to the throne like Luiz Cane or Rich Franklin. I would even be extremely hesitant to sign him up with the likes of Thiago Silva, Brandon Vera or even Ryan Bader. I’m just not so positive that Chuck wins all of those fights, and we want Liddell to leave on a high note in this one.
Who then? Do you announce that Liddell will be squaring off with Houston Alexander, Mark Coleman or Brian Stann. I don’t know of anyone that would be interested in watching those fights, whether “The Iceman” is involved or not.
Enter Kevin Ferguson, aka Kimbo Slice. Kimbo comes into the UFC with his own set of problems. What do you do with him? He’s never going to win the title and I’d be shocked if he gets a second win at the TUF house during season ten. On the other side of the token, there’s a great deal of money to be made with Kimbo, a blind man can see that. So you have to market the man correctly just long enough to make that money from him.
So what do you do with him then? Well let’s just say I’m the UFC. If I was the UFC I would speak with both coaches of The Ultimate Fighter when the cameras were off and guarantee that Kimbo faces someone he can beat in his first fight in the house. I mean someone he can absolutely, without a doubt beat. Kimbo losing in his first fight in the house following his embarrassment to Seth Petruzelli in October would leave the former porn star bodyguard almost completely unmarketable. A loss in his first fight in the house would result in a huge loss of money for all involved.
Let’s skip ahead assuming that Slice gets that all important first victory in the house, does anyone truly believe the former YouTube brawler has a remote chance of defeating Roy “Big Country” Nelson, or even former NFL superstar Marcus Jones? There aren’t many people outside Team Kimbo that will be giving the Bahamian born brawler a realistic chance.
Even worse, what do you do with the cash cow following his stint in the most watched season of The Ultimate Fighter in the shows history? Kimbo will be in the same boat with Liddell in one respect. You can’t give him a legit contender because the chances are very good that he loses the bout handily and I’m not sure if anyone wants to see Kimbo face Cain Velasquez or Gabriel Gonzaga to be quite honest. Is there any question as to who wins those fights? Also much like Liddell, a fight between Kimbo and anyone without a big name just doesn’t sell. It’s not a money maker and isn’t making money the true name of the game as far as the UFC is concerned?
So how do you sell a fight between Chuck and Kimbo? It’s simple, a fight between Chuck and Kimbo sells itself on name power alone. The fight poster with the bearded former street thug staring directly into the eyes of the mohawked legend with the trademark “Pit” tattoo would be among the most popular in the organization’s history.
Then you sell the grudge match factor like crazy. People will eat it up. This is a fight that will have the casual fight fan foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog.
You don’t have to look very hard to track down the brief war of words between Liddell and Slice prior to Kimbo’s dismantling at the hands of Petruzelli at EliteXC: Heat
Liddell struck the first blow in a report that came from The Sun saying,”"Kimbo’s one of those guys who doesn’t have any ground game. He’s training and he’s learning but he’s been built up as such a big star, and that’s the thing that bothers me.
“People talk about him like he’s the next great thing when he really hasn’t done anything. He’s been built up because of the Internet and him beating a bunch of guys on the street… I could make some impressive knockout videos too if you let me walk outside and just punch people and knock them out.”
Of course, it didn’t take long for Kimbo to fire back at the comments made by Liddell, reminding Chuck that he is from the streets.
“We can always take it back to old-school; that’ll work for me,” said Kimbo in a YouTube video response. “But I still got love for all the MMA fighters, but if you keep on rapping man, I’m going to have to zip it close, baby, because I’m getting tired of the talk.
“The next one that has something to say, just see me [directly]. I’ll come to your camp, and that’s real talk.”
Liddell grasped the opportunity to counter Kimbo’s statement shortly after the much talked about video response from Slice by making his feelings on the Internet fighting sensation quite clear during an episode of Rear Naked Radio.
“All I said is fight someone real,” Liddell was quoted as saying during the radio broadcast. “The only guy he lost to in his street-fight things came into the UFC and lost. Fight a guy that is real and fight a guy… who has a few wins in MMA, and then talk about it.
“Before he talks about fighting me, he might want to think about beating somebody that has a winning record. He’s an Internet sensation who beat up guys at Taco Bell. Come on. How hard is that to do?”
Surprisingly, Even UFC President Dana White himself wouldn’t say that a future bout between the two is something that he would completely rule out.
“If he [Kimbo] fought anybody that mattered, I would book that tomorrow,” said White in an April 2008 interview with Deadspin.com.
“The fact is, Kimbo’s not there yet,” continued the outspoken face of the UFC. “He would get destroyed. I heard he just got knocked out by Forrest Griffin last week in a sparring match after a kick to the head
“I’d take him [Kimbo] absolutely seriously — but, again, he hasn’t beat anybody. In this sport, it’s all about ‘Who have you beat right now?’, and he hasn’t beat anybody.”
Being completely honest for a moment, I highly doubt that there is any type of real animosity on either fighters end but that doesn’t change the fact that grudge matches sell tickets, and I would fully expect for both of these showmen to play the bill to a tee.
Interest will also be peaked when it is announced that Liddell will be making the move up to heavyweight for the first time in his career.
As filthy rich as the UFC, White, Liddell and Kimbo already are, you’re kidding yourself if you think that everyone involved isn’t interested in making a little more dough. This fight makes everyone very happy financially.
Let’s throw the money factor right out the window. Let’s just say that Chuck doesn’t care about the money, he’s just in it for the hunger of the competition, he still wants to go out on a win. That’s why this fight makes so much sense for Liddell, he makes one last gigantic payday and leaves the sport with a highlight reel victory. It’s not going to get much better than that for “The Iceman” at this point.
Now that I’ve had a chance to outline all of the reasons why I feel that this fight makes sense, it’s time to take a good hard look at the bout’s two possible conclusions.
The first and by far most likely is that Liddell flattens Kimbo with a trademark right hand, does his symbolic “Pit X” all over the ring and announces his retirement on a good note. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t want to see that.
The other and less likely scenario is that Kimbo catches Chuck and puts him to sleep…..I don’t know anyone that would want to see that outside of Team Kimbo, but what are you going to do.
Kimbo vs. Chuck in 2010, it just makes sense.