Wow, now that is a statement. I know that most (if not all) his fights for his title were rematches, but I hardly think he was 'protected'. He fought at a time where Pride was a legit competitor, and a lot of fighters were loyal to that organization. Chuck was loyal to Dana, and fought where he held a belt. Guys like Jeremy Horn, Babalu etc. were no tamato cans for sure. They were the best that were available, and for sure very tough guys.
The fact is Chuck was a LEGIT beast, anyone who says otherwise should watch his bare knuckle fights in Brazil as a small example. Chuck was a warrior who fought anyone Dana could sign, and is one of the main reason's the UFC is what it is today.
And for the record, henderson could have attached a baseball bat to his 'H' bomb and hit Liddell with his hands down, and would not have come close to KO'ing him. That isn't even debatable. In his prime, Liddell couldn't be knocked out.
The fight would have been entertaining for sure, but if anyone was KO'ed it would have been Hendo.
A 'unhealthy' lifestyle hurt Liddell more than anything
Um... yeah, I have nothign else to add... well said
ADDED EDIT TO AVOID DOUBLE POST, in response to LL: I will also say the Shogun, Rampage, and Wanderlie runs in Pride were exciting but incredibly overhyped themselves. Those guys were certainly elite, but the world beaters they were built up to be were clearly exposed when they debuted in the UFC. Yes Rampage took the title, but then lost it to Forrest in a fight he DID lose, Shogun also got defeated by Forrest and you can bitch about bad knees all you want but he lost, and Wanderlie came in and lost to Chuck, so I'm not sure how you can say Chuck was nothing compared to them.