With only 2 losses in his last twenty Mixed Martial Arts fights; there is little doubt that Chuck Liddell is the best light heavyweight fighter in the world. Still, fans of the UFC always want to see good battles, so it's worth looking forward to those fighters, UFC, Pride or elsewhere who might give Chuck Liddell a run for his money.
Chuck Liddell is on a seven fight winning streak, his last defeat coming at the hands of Quinton “Rampage" Jackson in November of 2003. Those seven victories were against some of the top light heavyweights of all time, including two victories over Randy “The Natural" Couture and two victories over Tito Ortiz. Other notables were submission masters Renalto “Babalu" Sobral and Jeremy Horn.
The fight against Quinton Jackson, which was held in Japan under Pride rules was probably the last time that Chuck Liddell looked remotely vulnerable. His two victories over Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz were easy and his dismantlingof Jeremy Horn shows how far Chuck has come as a fighter since the two first met in 1999. A fight which Horn won by submission in the first round.
So who might be the next fighter to give chuck a real fight. Will it be Quinton “Rampage" Jackson in their long awaited rematch. Now that Jackson is fighting in the UFC, it's just a matter of time until we see this one. I predict the summer or fall of 2007. I think that Chuck Liddell is a much better fighter now than he was when he faced Rampage the first time. Also Quinton Jackson is not the same fighter that faced Chuck the first time, unfortunately for Rampage, his skills have not gotten better. Ever since Quinton Jackson's first knockout loss at the hands of Wanderlei Silva he has not been the same fighter and certainly the second knockout loss to the same opponent did not help matter any. Let's hope that Quinton has regained that edge that made him so dangerous in the first fight against Chuck.
Wanderlei Silva, the former middleweight champion in Pride would also give Chuck a very good fight. Silva is likely the most aggressive fighter in MMA. For a long time, this fight was an MMA fans biggest dream fight, but with Silva suffering back to back losses; one to Mirko Cro Cop (a heavyweight) and most recently loosing his Pride title to Dan Henderson, it looks like this fight will not happen. If it did, I would think that Chuck would eventually knock Silva out.
What about Mauricio “Shogun" Rua? For those of you who haven't seen Shogun fight, think of a guy with Brandon Vera's skills, Wanderlei Silva's aggression who's a natural 205 pounder. Shogun won the Pride middleweight tournament in 2005 defeating Ricardo Arona in the finals. By the way, Arona would be another good fight for Chuck as he also holds a victory over Wanderlei Silva. Shogun only has one victory in his last 13 fights and that is to a much larger Mark Coleman who slammed Shogun and broke his arm. You have to go back to 2003 to find another loss for Shogun and for a 25 year old fighter, that's a long time ago.
I'll round out my list with Mirko Cro Cop. I don't care if Chuck goes up to heavyweight, or Mirko cuts weight to 205. This is a fight that I've wanted to see for a long time. These guys are both excellent strikers, I'd give the edge in technique to Cro Cop and the edge in power to Liddell. Leg kicks might be the deciding factor and Mirko Cro Cop has Chuck Liddell beaten in this area. No matter how this fight ends, you can bet that it'll be exciting. Neither of these two guys wants to take the fight to the ground and both of them love to knock their opponents out.
So, the fights I'd like to see Chuck Liddell in are:
Chuck Liddell vs Mauricio “Shogun" Rua
Chuck Liddell vs Quinton “Rampage" Jackson
Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva
Chuck Liddell vs Mirko Cro Cop
Chuck Liddell vs Ricardo Arona
I'm 99% sure we're at least going to see the Rampage fight and about 50% sure that we will. eventually see the Cro Cop fight. Let's hope that the others are in the cards before Chuck retires.
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