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Opinion: Liddell Will Never Reclaim A UFC Title

Rashad Evans KO's Chuck Liddell at UFC 88First and foremost, I’m obligated like every other keyboard warrior in the blogosphere to formally apologize to Rashad Evans for not giving him a snowball’s chance in hell at winning on Saturday night. There, official kudos have been dished out, all is well.

Now everyone else and their mother are forecasting the blank future for Liddell, so I won’t bore you with my thoughts on that matter. What I will say is that it unless Liddell can somehow completely alter his preferred fighting style, he might want to hang up those 4.5 ounce gloves and check out the coaching scene more thoroughly, because UFC gold is simply no longer in his scope of possibility.

It was only a matter of time

See I have this friend, Sheldon. Sheldon is an avid boxer as well as a pretty big MMA aficionado, though he admittedly prefers the sweet science over mixed martial arts any day of the week. Never without a bone to pick, Sheldon has always been particularly critical of the “sloppy” boxing element displayed by mixed martial artists. Most notably, Sheldon and I have found ourselves arguing about who else but Chuck Liddell — as Liddell is best known for his knockout prowess despite having what Sheldon and I’m sure many others deem an absolutely terrible striking style — which is kind of true when you think about it.

Liddell holds his hands entirely too low, throws shots one can spot from miles away, and his target zones are left open wider than a waistband at Lane Bryant. Nevertheless, I usually retaliated to Sheldon’s argument by stating that regardless of Liddell’s technical lacking, the man stands/stood atop the proverbial ladder for a long, long time, so the guy must be doing something right. And so, Sheldon and I sort of agreed to disagree that sooner or later, this style of Chuck’s would be thoroughly exposed for its weakness and, ultimately, exploited.

As we all already know, that time has come and gone with one swift, brain-rattling blow from heavy underdog, Rashad Evans. Now I do not believe by any measure that “Sugar” is the future of the UFC. In my opinion Evans is really too small for the LHW class, and is at best a constant hanger-on to the bottom end of the top ten. Contrary, I think what we all witnessed on Saturday night is simply the result of placing a quick and patient man inside the cage with someone who just doesn’t have any surprises left for the competition.

Darwin would not be proud

Like Tito Ortiz, the man Liddell trounced with ease on two separate occasions, Chuck has unfortunately failed to evolve in terms of what works best inside the octagon. The Iceman’s intimidating knock out power worked and worked and worked in the UFC, as Liddell once boasted a three year, seven fight winning streak with no end in sight.

But not too long ago a guy by the name of Quinton Jackson stepped in with Chuck and knew, just as we all now do, that Liddell’s one trick pony style was really nothing to be afraid of. And the results speak for themselves. The fighters who have knocked out Liddell in the past and those who might knock him out in the future may or may not be of champion-level caliber, it’s just that, like King Hippo or Don Flamingo, the man’s style is so blatantly figured out that it now sits primed for all to come and try their hand at picking apart.

Lets face it, there is video available for every single one of Chuck Liddell’s 27 MMA bouts. Opponents can watch hours of tape, adjust appropriately, and take it right to The Iceman, and they won’t be afraid to do so either. Whether the opponent is ready to go for the gusto like Rashad or Jackson, or simply content to leg-kick en route to a decision like Jardine, Liddell will surely find himself unable to beat any real contenders from here out. Let alone, will he himself be able to capture that precious gold-plated strap that so many in his division are more qualified to wield.

I hate to say it, but…

Age, heart, work ethic- these are not any of the real causes to Chuck’s recent follies. After all, just nine months ago Liddell reclaimed the spotlight after picking up a win over Wanderlei Silva, no easy task.

But Rashad Evans’ brutal knockout did more than just mark another L on Liddell’s impressive record. It let everyone out there who didn’t already know that in mixed martial arts today, you have to be a damn near perfect sort of animal with little to no weakness if you are to stay at the top of the MMA food chain. Just take a look at some of the other title holders in the business: St. Pierre, Penn, Silva, Faber, Emelianenko — those guys are absolute machines and true epitome’s of what a champion mixed martial artist must become.

Sadly, Liddell no longer embodies the same essential qualities. Not by a long shot.

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