UFC 71 - Fight Analysis - Chuck The Iceman Liddell vs Quentin Rampage Jackson

Shawn Kovacich
 


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Well as I’m sure you are already aware, the mixed martial arts world was KO’ed almost as quick as the right handed hook punch that floored the fighter who many considered to be virtually unstoppable and easily, at least until this point, the most feared striker in the light-heavyweight division. Of course I’m talking about the featured fight of the evening during UFC #71 featuring Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell vs. Quentin “Rampage” Jackson.

Liddell, who had several years ago been defeated by Jackson during a Pride fight in Japan, has been on a quest to avenge the only three (now four) losses in his illustrious career. The first two being to Randy Couture and Jeremy Horn. Both of which he avenged in stunning fashion in recent bouts. The third loss and now fourth, was to Quentin “Rampage” Jackson.

Now I have seen both men fight on numerous occasions and I have a very high regard for the capabilities of both. I have to admit that my heart was pulling for Liddell, but my gut instinct told me that Jackson was going to take it. Score one for the gut and zero for the heart.

As we all know, Liddell is primarily a stand-up fighter and should still be considered one of the most feared strikers in the light-heavyweight division. Even though he did suffer a “flash” knockout in this fight, this doesn’t appear to be a damaging knockout as far as long lasting effects are concerned, and shouldn’t affect his ability to strike with devastating knockout power in both of his hands.

Jackson, who is a highly aggressive brawler, is mainly known for his slamming abilities and his phenomenal “ground and pound” fighting abilities. Jackson is also extremely strong and has fought some very talented and tough opponents in the Pride organization.

What will follow is a detailed professional analysis of the fight from start to finish, concluding with some final thoughts concerning both fighters. Please keep in mind that these are my views from my own perspective of the events that transpired. They are by no means intended to shed any kind of negative or disparaging thoughts, words, etc. on either one of the fighters involved. I have a great deal of respect for anyone, and I do mean anyone, who steps onto the mat. So, with further ado let’s get started.

THE FIGHT:

From the opening bell, Jackson was clearly the aggressor as he ran across the octagon to confront Liddell. Throughout the entire fight, Jackson controlled the center of the octagon and made Liddell move about the outside edges. Jackson’s defensive skills with his hands was clearly evident throughout the entire length of the bout as he constantly had his hands up and elbows tucked in to his sides, which would have made any boxing coach grin with pride. Liddell on the other hand had his hands spread wide apart leaving the entire front of his body open and his left hand especially was being held way too low and away from his head. Which would ultimately prove to be Liddell’s undoing.

The first landing blow of the fight was a left leg roundhouse kick to inside of Jackson’s left thigh. There didn’t seem to be much on this kick and it appeared to be more of a feeling out type of blow rather than one thrown with dubious intent. Liddell didn’t immediately follow up on the kick, but did after a few moments throw a couple of feeling out jabs at Jackson’s head while both he and Jackson moved about the octagon. None of these jabs connected.

Moments later, Jackson threw an ineffective left jab while Liddell threw and ineffective right hand. Neither blow landed. At this point, Jackson appeared to be a little frustrated at Liddell’s moving about the ring and dropped both of his hands and invited Liddell to come in and fight. Liddell responded with a lunging left jab that connected but with little effect. Liddell followed this up with a right handed uppercut and a left hook. Both of which were ineffective. Jackson countered these punches with a right hook followed by a left hook that were strong and powerful but did not seem to land with any effect.

Liddell threw a left jab that was fairly ineffective, and then mere moments later threw a looping left hook to the body of Jackson. This was not so much a mistake as was leaving his left hand and arm hanging down around his waist, rather than immediately returning it back to where it should have been throughout the entire fight. That is with his left hand up around his head and his elbow in to protect the left side of his body.

Jackson capitalized on Liddell’s mistaken and after effectively defending himself from the looping left hook to the body, he then brought his right hand around and over the top of Liddell’s left arm in a picture perfect counter right hook to the side of Liddell’s head. This resulted in Liddell being knocked down, but not out as of the moment. However, this was soon rectified as Jackson pressed the attack and jumped on Liddell landing two more solid right hands to the chin of Liddell while he was on the ground which in effect momentarily knocked him out, causing referee “Big John” McCarthy to step in and stop the fight.

Folks, we now have a new UFC light-heavyweight champion of the world, Quentin “Rampage” Jackson.

THE KNOCKOUT:

Now there were two primary contributing factors that were directly responsible for the effectiveness of Jackson’s hook punch, one of which Jackson himself had absolutely no control over. That one contributing factor was provided by none other than Liddell himself. I have broken these two factors down by fighter and they are as follows:

Liddell:

If you watched the knockout closely, and boy I did numerous times with my Tivo, you can clearly see that Liddell had left his left hand and arm hanging down around his waist after throwing the looping left hook to Jackson’s body. This resulted in leaving the left hand side of his head completely open and vulnerable to attack. After many times reviewing this fight, I would surmise that the reason Liddell left his left arm hanging down was due to improper training and carelessness. I don’t know what Liddell was thinking leaving himself open like that knowing how powerful of a puncher Jackson is. It seems that Liddell forgot the number one rule of professional fighting, “Protect yourself at all times. ”

Jackson:

He obviously took Liddell by surprise when he threw that beautiful right handed hook punch to the head. However, what some of you may not have noticed is the almost picture perfect defense he used to protect himself from Liddell’s looping left hook to the body which immediately preceded the right hook to the side of Liddell’s head. Jackson kept his hands up and elbows in throughout the entire duration of this bout and this proved to be instrumental in protecting himself from Liddell’s looping left hook to the body. That and ducking his head just prior to throwing his right hook around and over the top of Liddell’s left arm, which just so happened to be hanging down around his waist at the time, rather than being up around his head where it should have been.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS:

Here are my thoughts on how each fighter could improve upon their respective abilities concerning this particular fight.

Liddell:

1. Keep your hands up! I know this sounds simple and it is. I myself learned this the hard way on more than one occasion.
2. Utilize your own kicking ability better by actually throwing more than just one kick. You only threw a single solitary kick the entire fight, and it appeared to be more of a feeling out kick rather than one thrown with intent.
3. Throw your jabs with a purpose; don’t just lightly flick them out for no apparent reason.
4. Don’t allow your opponent the opportunity to dictate the pace of the fight.
5. Learn and Practice how to avoid getting hit while fighting in close proximity to your opponent, and when unable to avoid the punches, how to minimize their effect by taking them on the arms and rolling with the force of the punches.

Jackson:

I really am hard pressed to find any real flaws in Jackson’s performance. So having said that, the only thing I can really recommend at this time is to keep training hard and don’t rest on your laurels and you could be champion for quite a long time. Or until you go up against Dan Henderson.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Although this fight resulted in a loss for Liddell, I think you are going to see him come back even more dangerous than before as he has an indomitable spirit and will learn from the mistakes he made in this fight. However, I think it would be foolish to have him come back for a title shot right away. He should have a couple of tune-up fights first in order to regain his confidence and skill level before tackling either Jackson or Dan Henderson, who I pick to beat Jackson when their unification bout for the Pride and UFC titles comes up later this year. As far as Jackson is concerned, this was without a doubt one of his most impressive performance I have ever seen by him. Although I am picking Henderson to win their bout, I am fully expecting one of the best fights of the year in this match up.

Shawn Kovacich has been practicing the martial arts for over 25 years and currently holds the rank of 4th degree (Yodan) black belt in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Shawn has also competed in such prestigious full-contact bare knuckle karate competitions as the Shidokan Open and the Sabaki Challenge, among others. In addition to his many accomplishments, Shawn is also a two time world record holder for endurance high kicking as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Shawn is the author of Back Kick , volume one in the highly acclaimed Achieving Kicking Excellence ™ series.

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