Liddell focused solely on Babalu

JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

Chuck Liddell may be forgiven for looking past his next fight -- his fans certainly are.

But the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight belt holder believes he'll have a much tougher scrap Aug. 26 against Renato 'Babalu' Sobral, than he will with the much-hyped future bout against PRIDE tough guy Wanderlei Silva.

"I'm not counting on that fight even happening yet," Liddell told the Sun.

"I have to get past Babalu and I think Babalu will be a tougher fight than Wanderlei. But don't get me wrong, I think I'm going to knock Babalu out again."

Liddell will put his belt on the line against Babalu but the excitement over that fight has been eclipsed by the announcement the UFC champ will meet the PRIDE champ some time in November.

The world's top two mixed-martial arts leagues -- the UFC and PRIDE -- will put their respective champs up against each other in what some are billing as the true battle to crown the toughest light-heavyweight in the world.

For the always-cool Liddell, he maintains it's just another day at the office and, if he has his way, not a very long one.

"I don't think Wanderlei will make it out of the first round," he says.

Liddell, arguably the most popular and definitely the most recognizable fighter in the UFC with his mohawk and tattooed skull, says he remains fully focused on Babalu and their battle at UFC 62.

Known for his stand-up fighting style and the game's best sprawl, Liddell says he isn't planning to deviate from his well-proven game plan when he takes on Babalu.

"I don't change what I do very much, I may work a little more ground for him," he says.

"I throw punches any way I can. I just try to put my hands on people."

His hands are lethal but it was his legs that finished off Babalu the last time the pair met in November of 2002.

A head kick in the first round dropped Babalu to the mat and put an end to the fight.

Since then, the Brazilian hasn't lost a fight, winning 10 straight.

Liddell last beat UFC legend Randy Couture Feb. 4 sending Couture into retirement.

Over the past two years, Liddell has seen his star rise to include TV and movie appearances, swelling fight purses and million-dollar endorsements.

But the man who earned the nickname 'Iceman' for his lack of nerves before fights, says he isn't spoiling himself.

"No new fancy toys," says Liddell.

"I just bought a new house in San Luis Obispo. It's pretty nice house, it's got a real nice pool with a slide for the kids."

In ranking his top three UFC light-heavyweight contenders, Liddell says Babalu is clearly No.1, followed by Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin, who will fight in the UFC 62 undercard against Stephan Bonnar.

FIGHT NOTES:

- The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 alumnus, Vancouver's Kalib Starnes, will take on Crafton Wallace in an Ultimate Fight Night undercard Aug. 17. The card, headlined by the Diego Sanchez/Karo Parisyan will be shown on Spike TV before the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 4. Sadly, the Starnes fight won't be one of the televised matches.

- Last weekend's WFA show in Los Angeles is getting rave reviews. The main event between former PRIDE superstar Quinton Jackson and Matt Lindland went the distance with Jackson earning a split decision. Bas Rutten -- who was scheduled to fight Kimo Leopoldo until Kimo tested positive for a banned substance -- instead disposed of Ruben Villareal with a first round TKO. Among those in attendance, a slew of professional wrestlers, Ken Shamrock and Bruce Willis.


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