Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Iceman to face off against Rampage Jackson at UFC 71 on May 26

The UFC has confirmed that mixed martial arts fighter Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell will defend his light-heavyweight title against Quinton (Rampage) Jackson at UFC 71 on May 26 at the Las Vegas MGM Grand.

The 37-year-old Liddell (20-3) has won his last seven fights, all by KO or TKO, and had pretty much punched his way through UFC 205-pound opposition.

That was until Jackson came on board late last year, joining the UFC via its purchase of the World Fighting Alliance. The charismatic Jackson (26-6) beat Liddell by TKO in a Pride show in November 2003, the only loss on Liddell's record yet to be avenged.

Jackson, 28, made his UFC debut in February, knocking out former Calgary Stampeders running back Marvin (The Beastman) Eastman in UFC 67 for his fourth win in a row.

Jackson had expressed a desire to get another fight under his belt before tackling Liddell. Plus there had been concerns that a bout of pneumonia for Liddell might derail this fight. But Liddell says he is healthy and Jackson, apparently, changed his mind.

Kalib Starnes of Surrey, B.C., is expected to meet Chris (The Crippler) Leben on the undercard while Canadian-born, Seattle-based Ivan Salaverry, another ex-WFA fighter, reportedly returns to the UFC on the Memorial Day card to tackle Terry Martin. Both are middleweight bouts.

Highly regarded middleweight challenger Nate Marquardt, meanwhile, will fight middleweight champion Anderson (Spider) Silva on July 7. Marquardt confirmed the fight on his page.

"Anderson Silva is a great fighter, but is just that, a fighter," Marquardt wrote. "He is not invincible, he has weaknesses and I am Nathan Marquardt."

Marquardt trains in Denver and in Albuquerque, N.M., with the Greg Jackson camp but also spent time in Montreal last year helping Georges St. Pierre train for his November welterweight title fight against Matt Hughes.

He is coming off an impressive win over jiu-jitsu ace Dean Lister.

UFC 69: Shootout, set for April 9 in Houston, features 170-pound champion St. Pierre against Matt Serra in the main event.

UFC 70: Worlds Collide, slated for April 21, in Manchester, England, has Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic in the main event against Gabriel Gonzaga. A Filipovic win and the UFC will match the Croatian heavyweight sensation against 43-year-old champion Randy (The Natural) Couture.

Notes: Rumours continue to fly that Zuffa Inc., which owns the UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting, is buying Japanese rival Pride Fighting Championships . . . Open tryouts for Season 6 of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show are slated for April 10 at the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Producers are looking for welterweight fighters (155-170 pounds). Season 5 of the show, featuring lightweights, premieres April 5 on Spike TV, with B.J. Penn and Jens Pulver as rival coaches. . . . Canadian Shawn Tompkins has taken over from Bas Rutten as head coach of the Los Angeles-based Anacondas in the International Fight League. Tompkins runs the successful Team Tompkins gym in London, Ont., that is home to Sam Stout, Mark Hominick, Chris Horodecki and Krzystof Soszynski.

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