Light-heavyweight champion Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell is arguably the biggest name in UFC and considered one of the most vicious strikers in mixed martial arts.
He sports a 20-3 MMA record, achieving twelve of those wins by knockout. He has avenged his losses to both Randy Couture and Jeremy Horn, but has yet to redeem himself against Quinton (Rampage) Jackson.
His last fight against Tito Ortiz received more than one million domestic pay-per-view buys, making it the largest non-boxing buy rate in American history.
Liddell was in Toronto promoting an advanced screening of the new movie "300," which opens March 9 in theatres. SLAM! Sports's Neil Springer sat down with The Iceman for a one-on-one interview.
SLAM!: Has the UFC named your opponent yet?
CL: No, they haven't.
SLAM!: Word is Rampage is next?
CL: It said that somewhere on the Internet, but I don't know yet.
SLAM!: When are you fighting next?
CL: There's talk of the end of May. Hopefully they'll find an opponent worth fighting.
SLAM!: Who would you like to fight before you retire?
CL: There's quite a few guys; Quinton, obviously. If UFC's interested in me fighting as a heavyweight then there's a couple guys I'd like to fight there - Cro Cop, Fedor (Emelianenko) - those would be interesting fights. Those are fights where I might be the underdog again; it's been a long time.
SLAM!: Bas Rutten has said that Emelianenko is pound-for-pound the best fighter in MMA; some say he's unstoppable.
CL: He's a tough guy, but I'd like a shot at him. I think I could hang in there.
SLAM!: You've been doing a lot of promotional work lately. How has that impacted your training?
CL: For fights, I train for twelve weeks. I find time when I'm on the road, like last night, instead of watching "300" again, which I would have liked to; I went back to the hotel room to workout. I try to fit in five workouts a week. Right now I'm trying to get over this cold; it's kind of hampering me a bit.
SLAM!: How often do you get challenged on the street?
CL: I haven't been challenged in forever; it's been a very long time.
SLAM!: What was your reaction to the UFC 66 buyrate?
CL: They had estimated those numbers beforehand so it wasn't really a shock. I was glad we got those numbers; it's great for the sport. It really shows how far we've come.
SLAM!: Do those numbers indicate the sport being popular or did people just want to see you and Tito Ortiz fight?
CL: I think it was a combination, but it had a lot to do with (MMA) being a great sport.
SLAM!: How do you feel the fight with Ortiz went?
CL: It went well; I wasn't really in danger at any time. I was able to hurt him early and then keep it going through the fight.
SLAM!: What do you think of the rumours circulating that UFC is interested in purchasing PRIDE?
CL: I try to stay out of the business-side of the sport as much as possible.
SLAM!: Will you ever fight Wanderlei Silva?
CL: I don't think that's going to happen now; not after he suffered two straight knockouts.
SLAM!: What about the new PRIDE middleweight champion, Dan Henderson?
CL: Dan's a tough guy, but I consider him to be a smaller guy. He's really a 185-pounder.
SLAM!: So who is the toughest opponent you've ever faced.
CL: I would say Randy (Couture).
SLAM!: Do you think he'll beat Tim Silvia this Saturday?
CL: Well, it's an interesting match-up. Randy had a problem with heavy wrestlers when he was a heavyweight, but Silvia's a heavy striker, so it's not quite the same. We'll just have to see what happens.
SLAM!: Don't forget to check out the "UFC 68 Blow by Blow" Sat. March 3 on SLAM! Sports for live event updates.