Liddell big draw for Firestorm

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:54 AM ET

It was a night off for The Iceman but Chuck Liddell was still one of the stars of the show.

The current UFC light heavyweight champion proved to a big attraction among the 4,000 boisterous fans gathered at the Stampede Corral last night for King of the Cage Firestorm.

The Californian shook hands with well-wishers and posed for a few photographs in between fights and enjoyed a few cold ones as he took in a great night of mixed martial arts action in the cage.

UFC has become one of the most popular forms of combat, especially now that it's on Spike TV and Liddell said it's only going to get bigger.

"I think it's huge now because it's getting the free exposure on TV," said the 35-year-old from San Luis Obispo, who was a special guest last night, as was Ryan Franklin.

"It lets people know how much training you have to do and some of the things we go through to do what we do."

The Iceman fights about three times a year but trains heavily for three months prior to each battle in the caged octagon.

And when it comes to those crazy enough to step into the cage and proceed to pound on each other in front of a rabid audience, Liddell, a 6-ft. 2-in., 204-pounder, said it takes all kinds from ex-football players to kick boxers to mechanics.

"It's all sorts of people," he said.

"I was an accounting major and I graduated in accounting from college. I'd be an accountant if I wasn't fighting.

"There's other guys from all kinds of backgrounds in this sport."

In UFC, Liddell's sporting a 17-3 record and is one of the most well-known fighters in North America.

His athletic background is based on amateur wrestling but he's refined himself into a pugilistic machine and said the fights are intense.

"It's not like boxing where you have to be conditioned. You have to have all kinds of different training and it's pretty grueling," he said, adding he believes UFC will become bigger than boxing in the future.

"I do well and make more money now. The money's not as big as boxing is but ... I think we'll overtake boxing some day."

In the main event last night, Winnipeg's Dirty Joe Doerksen beat Brendan Seguin in the third round with a TKO.

Meanwhile, in the highly anticipated fight of the night, Jason Weiss and Carvin Mafatau spilled plenty of blood as they pounded each other with several fists and knees to the head. Weiss eventually won, coming out on top with a knockout in the second round.


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