Chuck Liddell's a hit on late night sports show

First published Thursday, June 5, 2003

Chuck Liddell has taken some shots over the years.

But nothing quite like this.

On Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo-based fighter nicknamed "The Iceman" made a late-night appearance on Fox Sports Net's "Best Damn Sports Show Period."

Liddell, who lives in San Luis Obispo and wrestled for four years at Cal Poly, was on the show to promote Friday's Ultimate Fighting Championship fight against Randy Couture.

But Liddell spent most of the segment defending himself, his sport and his old stomping grounds.

The mohawked wrestler/kickboxer/ fighting aficionado took the jabs from the show's hosts: comedians Tom Arnold and Chris Rose, former NBA forward John Salley and ex-NFL star Michael Irvin.

Most of the shots came from Arnold, who opened the segment by bashing the name of Liddell's old college, struggling to pronounce California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

"Oh, Cal Poly," laughed the usually intimidating Liddell, a four-year starter for the Mustangs in the early '90s. The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Liddell graduated with a degree in business/accounting in 1995.

Next, Arnold went after Liddell's cauliflower ear, which occurs when the structure of the ear is damaged after receiving repeated blows to the side of the head.

"Maybe you can donate that stuff to John Salley," Arnold cackled.

Liddell was unfazed by the wisecracks.

He's been hit much harder in the ring, but has managed to become one of the best all-around fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championships, where he considered the No. 1 contender.

He's also become quite the businessman, starring in ultimate fighting video games, gracing the covers of the sport's magazines. He also owns and operates SLO Kickboxing academy with partner Scott Adams.

"I've been striking my whole life, since I was 12 years old," he said. "I don't mind getting hit."

The no-frills fighter went on to discuss Friday's pay-per-view fight and the prospects of taking on the biggest names in the fight world.

First he talked about his next opponent, and how he was going to "tear his head off" during the main event of the UFC 43: Meltdown in Las Vegas.

Then he called out ultimate fighting champion Tito Ortiz.

The segment ended with him discussing the "toughness" of ultimate fighters versus boxers.

Ultimate fighting, mind you, is a no-holds-barred mix of boxing, wrestling, judo, karate and jujitsu that takes place in a cage-enclosed octagon. The only things you can't do in ultimate fighting are eye-gouging, kneeing your opponent and striking to the groin area.

Everything else is legal, if not encouraged.

"Do you have to be crazy to do this sport?" Rose asked.

"Real crazy," Irvin noted.

"Not at all," said Liddell, who is an impressive 8-1 in UFC bouts. "I love fighting."

As if that didn't sound crazy enough, his closing comments sure did.

When asked who would win Chuck Liddell vs. Mike Tyson, a confident Liddell did not hesitate to respond.

Tyson, the feared boxer who has a tribal tattoo across his face, came up when Salley noticed a tattoo on the side of Liddell's head that the fighter said symbolizes peace and prosperity.

"I'm gonna win that fight," Liddell said of the make-believe bout. "I'm not going to make a mistake and stand in there and get hit. I wouldn't give him a shot to hit me. I'd go in there and" take Tyson down with an arsenal of wrestling moves.

After his comments, Arnold joked that he knew what Liddell's tattoo really stood for, "I'm one crazy whiteboy."

Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell

Division: Light Heavyweight

Age: 33

Hometown: San Luis Obispo

Size: 6-2, 204

Style: Kickboxing

Ultimate Fighting Championship

record: 8-1-0.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship

UFC 43: Meltdown

Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell

vs. Randy "The Natural" Couture

Friday at 7 p.m.

Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas

Pay-per-view via satellite on DirecTV

www.directv.com for more information

Caption: by PHOTO COURTESY CHUCK LIDDELL - San Luis Obispo's Chuck Liddell sends Murilo Bustamante to the mat during a bout early in his ultimate fighting career.