'Iceman' reaches star status

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

, Last Updated: 8:21 PM ET

There is no shortage of impressive feats on Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell’s resume.

The most recognizable face in the Ultimate Fighting Championship has reached a celebrity status unparalleled in the mixed-martial-arts world. He’s on the cover of this week’s ESPN The Magazine, he’s had cameos on TV shows like Entourage and Blade and has made more public appearances than Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan combined.

All that and he tends turn the lights out on his opponents with laser-guided kicks and punches.

So what impresses challenger Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson most about the Iceman?

“His Mohawk,” says Jackson, 28, who looks like a mix between rapper 50 Cent and wrestling’s Junkyard Dog.

“I’m impressed how he keeps that Mohawk looking that way every time I see him. I wonder, does he cut it himself does he have a private barber, does he have a stencil thing that he puts on his head to keep from messing it up.”

The second-funniest man in the UFC (top honours go to aw-shucks Georgia boy Forrest Griffin) holds the enviable distinction of being the only unavenged loss on Liddell’s 20-and-three record.

But he promises that when he enters the cage tonight (Saturday), there will be nothing to joke about.

“I’m gonna whup Chuck’s ass,” said Jackson who holds an MMA record of 28-and-six.

If recent history is any indicator, the odds may be on Jackson’s side. Upsets have ruled the UFC’s last three cards with Randy Couture taking the belt from heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia, Georges St. Pierre losing the welterweight crown to underdog Matt Serra and virtual unknown Gabriel Gonzaga surprising mega star Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic with a head-kick knockout.

Since being defeated by Jackson at a 2003 Pride Fighting Championship card in Tokyo, Liddell has gone undefeated.

And he assures that if there is a recent trend toward upsets in the sport, it won’t apply to him.

“My strategy doesn’t change much from fight to fight, ” says Liddell, 37, whose light-heavyweight belt will be on the line tonight (Saturday) when the two square off at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in UFC 71.

“(Jackson’s) got a hard head and it’s going to take a little hitting to get him out, but he’s going to go down,” he told a Vegas press conference.

Liddell, who spent eight days in bed due to pneumonia in March, assures he’s healthy and ready to put an asterisk beside the only blemish on his pro record.

He’s a two-to-one favourite going into the fight, but perhaps the only safe bet in this scrap is that it’s not likely to go the distance. Someone’s going to get knocked out!

jose.rodriguez@sunmedia.ca

FIGHT NOTES:

  • B.C.’s Kalib Starnes will be on the UFC 71 fight card taking on Chris Leben. Leben, on the comeback trail after losing to Canadian Jason MacDonald and middleweight champ Anderson Silva is predicting a knockout.

  • Heavyweight champ Randy Couture is making a bold prediction for the Liddell/Jackson fight: He says Jackson will emerge victorious.

  • UFC 75 is set for Sept. 8 in London, England with Michael 'The Count' Bisping as one of the event headliners. The event will reportedly take place at the 23,000 seat O2 arena in London..

  • Rumblings have surfaced that Mirko Cro Cop will retire following the final four fights on his UFC contract. Cro has said he wants to return to his old job with the Croatian special police force. Cro Cop is scheduled to fight at UFC 75 in London.

  • For Dana White and crew, it’s another testament of his sports growing success: Ultimate fighting is on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.

    For the latest news in the mixed-martial arts world, check out The Scrapyard blog on canoe.ca


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