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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Liddell's far from done - Seattle Post

Liddell's far from done

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - "When I walk out of the tunnel, I can see the lights, hear the music, feel the crowd, but it all begins to close off as I near the cage. By that point I'm thinking, I've been training hard, it's time to focus...Every man is born with a fight-or-flight instinct, and mine is to fight. It always has been."

-Chuck Liddell from the book Iceman: My Fighting Life

The mythical title of "The Baddest Man on the Planet" has always been reserved for the sport of boxing. Now that Mixed Martial Arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship have gone mainstream, that's changed.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell seized the folkloric crown and moved to the front of a short line of legitimate pay-per-view box office draws when he disposed of the charismatic Tito Ortiz in Las Vegas on December 30, 2006.

It's lonely at the top, however, and a pair of losses in 2007, to his nemesis Quinton Jackson (the current UFC light heavyweight king) and the pedestrian Keith Jardine, stripped Liddell of his aura and even had him contemplating retirement.

Nearly a year to the day after vanquishing Ortiz, Liddell regained his mojo just in time to dominate former Pride star Wanderlei Silva, one of the world's best fighters, at UFC 79 on December 29. The Silva fight proved a couple of things to Liddell -- he wasn't done and he could still compete at the top level in the sport.

"I probably would have thought about retirement had things not gone my way," Liddell said in a phone interview. "I just didn't feel like my body was responding in the same way (in the losses). If I wasn't able to (beat Silva), you have to think about moving on."

Moving on wouldn't exactly have been a problem for the 38-year-old Liddell. The Santa Barbara, California native has become a mainstream celebrity. He has already created his own line of merchandise and is cultivating a budding acting career, appearing as himself in an episode of HBO's Entourage and in the pilot episode of the series Blade.

"I enjoyed it," Liddell said of his acting exploits. "When I'm done, I'd love to do more. I don't have a lot of time right now but if people still have an interest in seeing me after my (fighting) career is over, I can certainly see myself doing it"

Right now, Liddell is only thinking about avenging his loss to Jardine and challenging Jackson one last time.

"My next fight will probably be in the summer and I am thinking about Jardine since Jackson is already scheduled to fight (Forrest Griffin)," Liddell said. "I can't wait around (for Jackson). I love the sport and I think I have a couple years left in me. I'm a very competitive person. I don't even like to lose at things I'm not good at."

While waiting to enter the Octagon again, Liddell is priming for the release of his autobiography, penned with Chad Millan for Dutton Adult Publishing.

In it, Liddell describes not only what it's like to be called the "Baddest Man on the Planet." but how he got there. Raised by a single mother and inspired by his grandfather, Liddell learned how to fight at a young age. He calls himself a "lethal weapon" that's fiercely loyal, a bit sensitive, and unexpectedly romantic...

I'll add self-deprecating.

"I didn't really want to write a book," Liddell said. "They (his management) talked me into it. I guess a lot of people want to read about my background and that's great. I really enjoyed doing it."

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