Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Revenge is on Liddell's mind

By James Melroy

Mixed martial arts: He looks to defeat Rampage on May 26.

LONG BEACH - It was without a doubt the toughest five months of Chuck Liddell's illustrious career.

On June 6, 2003, Liddell was knocked out by Randy Couture in the third round of their UFC light-heavyweight championship bout in Las Vegas. It would be Liddell's last fight in UFC for almost a year.

Liddell had taken his talents to PRIDE Fighting Championship, the premier MMA organization in Japan.

But on Nov. 9, in just his second fight with the company, Liddell lost to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson when his corner threw in the towel as Jackson pummeled down on Liddell in the second round.

Approximately 3 1/2 years - and seven fights later - Liddell has knocked out every opponent put in front of him, including current UFC heavyweight champ Couture, who has been KO'd twice by Liddell after winning their initial bout.

Liddell's next challenge? Avenge his loss to Jackson.

The two will meet May 26 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, with Liddell's light-heavyweight title at stake.

"I'm excited to make this long-awaited rematch a reality for UFC fans," UFC president Dana White said. "Chuck has been on a mission to avenge all of his losses. He avenged Randy Couture, then Jeremy Horn and now standing in the way is Quinton Rampage Jackson. Rampage is extremely excited to finally be in the UFC and is very confident that his second fight in the UFC will earn him the light-heavyweight championship. This is without a doubt the blockbuster fight of the summer."

Liddell, who holds a 20-3 record and is considered one of the top strikers (punchers) in the sport, openly admits to being excited about the rematch.

"I've been waiting for this fight with Rampage for a long time," he said. "I'm excited about it and I will knock him out. This is the last loss on my record that I have to avenge, so I want to put that behind me and look at new challenges."

In the first fight, Jackson (26-6) chose to trade punches with Liddell and landed several hard shots in the first round, and even dropped him with a looping over-hand right with less than a minute left, but Liddell recovered and survived the round.

In Round 2, Jackson landed several body blows and an uppercut that felled Liddell, who was able to get back to his feet moments later. But, sensing that he had his opponent on the ropes, Jackson drove into Liddell, picked him up and slammed him to the mat. With top position, Jackson began digging punches into Liddell's body, mixing in a head shot on occasion. Liddell, groaning in discomfort as the body punches landed, was unable to get back to his feet before his corner threw in the towel to stop the fight.

While Liddell has plenty of motivation, Jackson says the rematch will be business as usual for him.

"This is my job," Jackson said. "This fight is just another day at the office for me and I predict that someone is going to get whipped.

"On May 26, it's going to be on. I'm going to train the hardest I've ever trained in my life and it's going to be lovely."

Tickets for the event go on sale March 30 at 10 a.m.


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