MaxFighting Goes 1-on-1 With The Iceman
By Sean McClure
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The Iceman talks Tito, Silva, Vera, and much more
By Sean McClure
When my phone rang at home last Friday evening, I had a hard time keeping a straight face. My wife, Sarah was perched just out of earshot waiting for me to pick up the phone. I answered and pretended like I wasn't going to put it on speakerphone just to toy with her. As I answered the call, the voice on the other end boomed out of the small speaker that I have used for interviews for some time with some pretty cool words, "Hey, this is Chuck".
Chuck Liddell is one of the most accomplished and well-known mixed martial artists in the world. He is a humble fighter, but one who shoots straight with you every time he speaks. He is the UFC light heavyweight champion and the man who stands atop the rankings in the 205 pound across the globe.
I was lucky enough to speak with Chuck and squash and confirm some rumors with him. Here is my interview with The Iceman, Chuck Liddell.
MaxFighting: So how are you doing?
Chuck Liddell: I'm doing real good.
MaxFighting: How's that training going?
Chuck: The training's going great. No complaints. I'm in great shape and that means a long night, well a short night for Tito.
MaxFighting: Who are you training with for this one?
Chuck: The same guys I always do for my fights.
MaxFighting: At the Pit?
Chuck: At the Pit, yeah. I've been with these guys for a while training.
MaxFighting: Chuck, do you think that this is the same Tito that you faced last time?
Chuck: Well, I think it is the same style, same guy, and same weaknesses. But, you know he's a tougher version of himself than back then. You could say that. I think he's gotten better, but I think he has just improved on what he was good at before. I don't think he's a different fighter. He's still has the same style.
MaxFighting: What did you think when Dana said that you were fighting what everyone perceives as the thorn in your side? Were you excited or more like, "here we go again"?
Chuck: I'm sure HE's thinking, "here we go again". I can't see him being happy about this fight. I think he could have gone his whole career without having this fight happen again if it was up to him.
MaxFighting: Just to switch gears for a minute, how many MMA shows are popping up on the California scene now since MMA is blowing up?
Chuck: There's been a bunch of shows for a long time. As a matter of fact, I think that California has had the most shows.
MaxFighting: About how many appearances do you make a month?
Chuck: It just depends. If I let them book everything, I could do them every weekend and probably a couple times during the week.
MaxFighting: So has that increased since the popularity of the UFC has risen?
Chuck: Of course.
MaxFighting: When you were first approached by Xyience, did you ever think that it would turn out like it did? You're on television every time I flip on Spike TV. I mean does that surprise you that MMA has taken off like this?
Chuck: Not really. I mean by the time I was working with Xyience, I think we were on our way.
MaxFighting: I know you can't give any figures, but I have to ask. Has your pay increased a good amount since the popularity increase since UFC 52?
Chuck: Oh, yeah. *laughs* it's gone up quite a bit. Definitely.
MaxFighting: When you first started at UFC 17...
Chuck: Yep, UFC 17 it was a $1000 to show up for a tournament.
MaxFighting: From $1000 to a very substantial amount, that's a huge difference. Did you ever think that Chuck Liddell would be making as much money as he is right now?
Chuck: You know we'd always hoped to get there someday and I really thought it would take a little bit longer. I thought I'd be retired and watching the younger guys getting paid the money that we're getting paid now.
MaxFighting: Speaking of retirement, you're no where near retiring are you?
Chuck: No, everything's great. I feel good and I'm not going to retire when I'm still feeling.....as soon as I'm not able to perform like I should be. Right now, everything's fine and I'm at the top of my game. I'm not going to retire anytime soon.
MaxFighting: Just to squash a lot of rumors on the internet I have to ask this question. Whose court is the ball in right now for the Wanderlei Silva fight? Yours or his?
Chuck: Well, it's in their court I guess. The thing is with Wanderlei Silva, you gotta' look at it like this. With the UFC, Silva had agreed to fight me in November. Well, he got knocked out. He's not even cleared to fight until like January. He got knocked out in September so I don't when he gets cleared to fight again, but it's a three month suspension when you get knocked out that badly. But, the UFC made sense after that when they said that he should go back and beat some people. Because, what people are going to say when I knock him out in the first round is that it's because he got knocked out by Cro Cop a couple of months ago.
MaxFighting: I didn't think about that. I can see how some people would use that as an excuse if Silva lost.
Chuck: They're going to say, well ohhh it's just because he got knocked out by Cro Cop before this fight. Let him win a couple of fights and then let's talk again when he's back and going good again, then let's talk. Yah, I would love to fight him. I think the other thing is that the UFC was going to bring him out to fight me and none of the newer fans even knew who he was.
MaxFighting: When he came out at UFC 61.
Chuck: Yeah, at UFC 61 when you look at the reaction from the fans a lot of them were like, "who's that"? A lot of the new fans haven't seen the PRIDE stuff. Yeah, he's a great fighter and it would be a great fight for the fans and everything, but the public didn't even know who he was.
MaxFighting: While we're on the subject of opponents, I want to ask your opinion about Brandon Vera. He's said that he would step down to light heavyweight if the UFC asked. What do you think of Vera? Are you impressed with what you've seen?
Chuck: He seems like he's a good young kid. He's coming up and he'll be good. I mean, I *laughs* I would be more than happy to fight him.
MaxFighting: This is the one I am getting e-mailed like crazy about: If you repeat and beat Tito again is there anything left for you in the light heavyweight division?
Chuck: Yeah, there's quite a few good guys out there. There's quite a few match-ups I would like them to get. Quinton, Wanderlei, and I wouldn't even mind fighting Shogun.
MaxFighting: Obviously, out of those guys the Quinton Jackson rematch is probably up there as number one or number two, right?
Chuck: *laughs* Yeah.
MaxFighting: Was there ever a time that Quinton was headed back to the UFC and then it just didn't happen?
Chuck: I don't know that there was. I thought there was an offer out there. I think he's just staying away, I think he tried to stay away from me. But, you know I hope they bring him back, I really do.
MaxFighting: You're not going to heavyweight as the rumor mill has been churning about are you?
Chuck: I have no plans at this point. There are fights we've talked about that I would be interesting in doing, but for the most part I am going to stay at light heavyweight. There are a few fights I wouldn't mind doing so we'll see. We'll see what happens with that, but like I said for the most part I am going stay at light heavyweight.
MaxFighting: Chuck, I really appreciate your time.
Chuck: Oh, no problem.