Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell is set to face off against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in Montreal as the main event of UFC 97 on April 18th. Many fight fans have already mentioned their feelings that if Rua doesn’t impress at the event, it could be his last fight in the UFC. What most people hadn’t considered is that Liddell might be in a similar situation.
Liddell was at one point the highest paid fighter in the UFC, and essentially the face of the organization. “The Iceman” had been on a tear, knocking out everyone that stood across the cage from him – including Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture twice – from April of 2004 through December of 2006. Since his December 2006 TKO victory over Tito Ortiz, Liddell has gone without a knock out victory, and been knocked out twice compiling a 1-3 record after that date.
All of this has lead up to an article published by Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press on Saturday. In the article Davidson said that UFC president Dana White had spoken to The Canadian Press regarding Liddell’s upcoming bout in April:
UFC president Dana White says the Iceman needs to put on a show north of the border.
“I’ve made it very clear to Chuck. Very clear,” White told The Canadian Press. “It’s not about money, it’s not about this, that. Chuck is one of my good friends. Chuck (has) cemented his legacy in the UFC and in the fight game. I’m not even saying if he wins, unless he looks incredibly impressive (in Montreal) – I mean, he’s going to have to go out there and dazzle me, for me to want Chuck to still fight.”
“I love him, and I don’t want to see what I saw in his last fight ever again,” he added.
While “incredibly impressive” is still a subjective term, White hasn’t given himself much wiggle room if Liddell doesn’t do well on April 18th. That said, White gave no indication of what the potential repercussions of a poor showing might be, outside of him losing a desire for Liddell to fight. That doesn’t mean that the UFC isn’t still interested in Liddell being on payroll, just maybe as an announcer instead of a fighter. There is also still the possibility that White is just trying to motivate Liddell in the hopes that he will, in fact, impress and he won’t have to do anything in terms of removing “The Iceman” from the Octagon.