If Quinton Jackson had retained his title at UFC 86, you probably wouldn’t have heard Chuck Liddell’s name mentioned in the UFC light heavyweight title picture for quite some time. After all, Jackson did beat Liddell twice…decisively. How could you justify it when Lyoto Machida is still undefeated and Wanderlei Silva is back on track? Of course, that became a moot point when the judges awarded one of the closest fights in recent memory to Forrest Griffin instead.
Ever since then, it’s been widely speculated that Liddell would get first crack at the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Now it appears to be confirmed for UFC 92, at least according to Chuck’s supplement company, IcemanRX, assuming he defeats Rashad Evans at UFC 88.
Liddell made this comment to The Sun yesterday about the potential fight with Forrest.
“So after [the Evans] fight I want the title shot, yeah. I was asked about fighting Forrest when he won the Ultimate Fighter three years ago, and I said he’s not ready and I’d beat him up. But he’s ready now and it would be a great fight.”
I’ve doubted Forrest before, but I think he’s done more than enough to prove he’s ready for Liddell.
With Chuck now set on his quest to hold UFC gold, perhaps one last time, he hasn’t forgot about the man who took it away from him 15 months ago.
“I want to fight Rampage real badly. I actually think I match up very well against him, but I’ve managed to lose to him twice now.
“But the third fight will not have anything to do with the first two, it will be a fresh start. Rampage is the one fight I really want, as much as I want my title back.
“He’s lost the belt now, so I can’t beat him and win the title back in one fight, but I want to fight him just as bad as when he was champion.”
Liddell/Jackson III has the potential to be a huge fight, but a lot has to go right for it happen, at least as a title fight. Liddell would, of course, have to get past Evans with his hamstring intact. He would obviously then have to defeat Forrest, which won’t be as nearly as easy as it once seemed. Jackson would have to win his next fight, which is a huge obstacle if the UFC puts Jackson in the Octagon with Wanderlei Silva or Shogun. However, if that all plays out, don’t be surprised if we see Liddell/Jackson III sometime late spring 2009.
Whether or not it’s a fight Liddell would actually win is an entirely different question. I wouldn’t be able to pick Liddell in that fight, and not because of what happened in the second, but what Jackson did to Chuck in the first. It was five years ago and a lot has changed, but Quinton dominated Liddell in that fight, and Rampage may have done the same in the second if he hadn’t have knocked him out in the first two minutes. It’s hard to bet against history.
However it all goes down, it’s going to be good. It’s almost impossible to make a bad fight in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. With a Liddell, a Machida, a Jackson, a Rua, and a pair of Silva’s all eying the belt, there’s not going to be a boring UFC light heavyweight title fight for quite a long time.