December 29, 2007
Heat's on The Iceman
There's little doubt Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell will end up in the Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Fame.
The question of just how soon, might be answered tonight.
With his 38th birthday in the rear-view mirror, the UFC's most popular megastar will either climb another rung back to the top or step off and make way for the new breed.
"This is a huge fight for me just to get back in the mix and get a shot at the title and prove I'm still the best at what I do," says Liddell of his long-anticipated scrap with Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva.
The two light-heavyweights will do battle at the sold-out UFC 79 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in a card that will see Canadian welterweight Georges St. Pierre take on Matt Hughes for the interim title.
Rumours of Liddell contemplating an exit from the Octagon began to surface following September's loss to Keith "Dean of Mean" Jardine.
His age and the fact he's already dipped his toes in the acting world -- where he's played bit roles on TV series such Blade, Entourage and even a Nickelback video -- helped fuel the rumours.
But if a loss to Silva will spell the end of his storied career, Liddell's not leading on.
"That's a bridge I will cross after," says Liddell, who is 20-5 with 13 knockouts.
"I really don't think about losing fights before fights. If you do then you go out there trying not to lose. I still feel great. I wouldn't be fighting if I didn't."
The battle between Silva and the UFC's mohawked warrior has teased fans for more than a year.
Liddell admits the difference in styles should make for a bangfest.
"He likes to come out after people and I like it when people come out after me," says the noted counterpuncher, who is known for his loopy, unorthodox knockout blows.
"I think the fans are going to love this fight."
Silva, a compact Brazilian with a 31-7 record, has 21 knockouts on his resume.
Like Liddell, he too is riding a two-fight losing skid and will enter the Octagon for the first time in seven years, having spent the front end of the decade as Pride's middleweight champ.
TRAINING WITH TOMPKINS
The aggressive 31-year-old, who recently moved his family to Vegas, has been training at Xtreme Couture with Canadian coaching sensation Sean Tompkins.
Bookies are giving Silva the slight edge over Liddell going into the fight.
But Liddell says he's not reading too much into the showdown with the compact Brazilian, saying he intends on knocking him out.
"It's just another day at the office," says Liddell.