UFC 88: The Iceman Has Melted

Derek BedellAnalyst ISeptember 6, 2008

After the fight was signed between Chuck Liddell and Rashad Evans, I was ecstatic for someone finally to dethrone the self proclaimed "Suga" off of his pedestal. Evans is undefeated, even though he should have one loss, instead of a draw, to Tito Ortiz. Only if it wasn't for a cage grab by Tito in the third round that lost him a point and a victory.

Be that as it may, Chuck Liddell was coming off of an impressive victory over Wanderlai Silva. "The Iceman" looked back to his old form after suffering heartbreaking defeats to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and, even more shocking, Keith Jardine.

So we were all one fight away from Chuck getting another shot at the light-heavyweight title and Rashad Evans getting a shot of reality by suffering his first loss. 

Until the unthinkable happened.

I have to admit, I was nervous for Chuck in this fight. I was under the impression Rashad was a better all-around fighter. But with Liddell having two things he jams into those UFC gloves, it would be a true test for Rashad, as he's never met a striker like Chuck before.

By fight time, Liddell was almost a three to one favorite. 

The first round seemed to be slightly in favor of Chuck, although it was very bland, as both fighters were feeling each other out and being very tentative in their attacks.

Round two began, and in what would be a jaw-dropping moment, Rashad Evans connected with an "ironic" overhand right that knocked Chuck out cold!

I don't mean rocked him or dropped him. It was one of the most brutal one-punch knockouts in UFC history!

And it came against a man who has been knocking people out for years as one of the top dogs in the sport.

As it saddened me to see the icicles break and melt away, as Chuck fell to the canvas, it shows that Rashad Evans is someone to deal with.

We all know Chuck is older and on his last leg as a fighter, but what does this devastating loss do for his career?

It melts his championship days away.

Not taking anything away from his accomplishments or legacy, but Liddell cannot match up against the top newcomers in the sport anymore. He just doesn't have the speed or overall skill-set to do it. His striking just isn't enough anymore.

So, instead of a money-making main event for the light-heavyweight title between Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell, we are forced to look at the future, thanks to Rashad Evans' right hand.

However, the UFC has confirmed that Rashad Evans will take on Forrest Griffin for the title as early as December.  It will be The Ultimate Fighter season one winner against season two's champion.

I'm sure Chuck will have a few more fights, but the feared machine he once was is all but a distant memory.

The closest top-level fight we may see is Liddell against Lyota Machida, since no one else wants to fight him. Any other battle will probably see Chuck saving face against someone who won't take a few years off his life like Rashad did.  

The UFC may turn Liddell into a "Kimbo" type before his contact ends. You know, protecting him so he doesn't get embarrassed because the guy is arguably the biggest draw the UFC has ever had.

As unsure as the future seems to be for Chuck Liddell right now, the man has a legacy that will never be tarnished, so he need not hang his head. He should just realize it's time to walk away...gracefully, while he still can. I mean, he is one and three in his last four fights, with two of those loses ending by knockout.

No one wants to see Liddell turn into an MMA Mike Tyson, another sad ending.

Bottom line, even though it's highly unfortunate, we have all witnessed the melting of "the Iceman."

With Rashad's ability to break through the ice becoming a painful reality, does the UFC bring back Tito Ortiz, who defeated Forrest Griffin and fought Evans to a draw? 

It could be something worth considering, from a money standpoint.

On a funny side note, while watching the fights tonight, a friend of mine asked what nationality Matt Hamill was while they were showing some of his comments leading up to the Rich Franklin fight.

He's not an avid MMA fan and was there casually taking it in. I almost spit my beer out when another friend responded, "He's deaf."

Not to be rude, but because Matt had his interview captioned, my friend thought he was of some descent that didn't speak English well. He was right, just not for the reasoning he suspected.

It definitely earned the TAPOUT funny moment of the night.