This Was Back Before MMA Had Rules… Chuck Liddell is a Legend of the Sport… ‘The Iceman’ has Reminded Fans Just How Much the Game Has Evolved Since He Started Out Cage Fighting…

Chuck Liddell might have had a nightmare return to action last month against Tito Ortiz when the pair headlined Oscar De La Hoya’s first foray into promoting MMA. He got smashed out by Ortiz in the first round, in an appearance that left a bitter taste for many fight fans who idolised ‘The Iceman’.

Liddell is one of the most iconic fighters in the history of the UFC. His distinctive mohawks, his aggressive style and his famous nickname all combined to create an aura around the 49-year-old veteran. Inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2009, he defended the light-heavyweight championship successfully four times.

Now Liddell has reminded fans just how much the game has evolved since he started out, by posting on Instagram a photo from his early MMA days. Let’s just say the game has changed a lot. Fighters wear gloves now for a start…

Screenshot: Instagram.


It’s remarkable really. As you can see from the image above, MMA was hardcore in its early days. Liddell explained how he fought Jose Landi-Jons back in 1998 – only a few months after making his debut. No wonder MMA developed a reputation for being primal and animalistic, which it is still struggling to shake off. Liddell wrote:

“Someone just sent me this pic. A trip down memory lane; Almost 20 years ago now I fought Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons bare knuckle in Brazil in one 30 minute round, No holds barred. Groin shots were legal, headbutts were legal, kicks to the head on the ground were legal, it was pretty much anything goes. Definitely a fight worth watching but it’s insane to think about how fast our sport has grown and evolved.”

YouTube video


When you watch the footage above, it’s really no wonder that Liddell looked so awful in his last fight against Ortiz. The man has taken so much damage in his career. He lost five of his last seven fights by either KO or TKO. As entertaining as he was in his early days, his ferocious style just wasn’t sustainable as he reached the latter part of his career. Back in the old days, groin attacks were legal, as was kicking the head of a grounded opponent. You could even headbutt, like in Lethwei.

Still, he has a record of 13 knockouts in 30 professional fights, and fought the absolute best of the best, when light-heavyweight had an actual deep pool of talent. The likes of Randy Couture, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, Ortiz, Wanderlei Silva and Alistair Overeem have all been melted by ‘The Iceman’ at various points in his career in the UFC and PRIDE.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.


There’s no doubt that the UFC and MMA, in general, would not be where it is today without the efforts of the likes of Liddell. From fighting to no gloves, to becoming one of the first major stars in the sport, he’s had a storied career. Many long-term fans regard Liddell’s period of activity as the golden era of the UFC.

This was pre-Reebok and before the whole over-sanitized look of MMA today. Just look at those shorts. You’ve got to love it.

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