Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture, UFC 43, UFC 52, UFC 57, Jun 2003, April 2005, Feb 2006
Recently, a wave of nostalgia has taken over and I have been going back to older UFC fights. After the 2005 Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar milestone, the UFC started to become more and more popular in the US. With that era of MMA, I immediately think back to the great light heavyweight fighters Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddel, and Randy Couture.
The UFC Light Heavyweight division has always been one of the most competitive. The Light Heavyweight Championship has changed hands so many times and so rapidly, it’s hard to keep track.
But the guys that started it all. The guys that put the UFC and the light heavyweight division on the map. Their fights against each other were always the most anticipated fights of the year.
Today, lets take a look at the legacy that is Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture.
Recently I posted on Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz. Among Tito, Randy, and Chuck, Tito was the first to attain the belt. Randy beat Tito in 2003 to become champion. Chuck Liddell then beat Randy in 2005 to become the fifth ever UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture I – Jun 2003
The first fight took place for the Light Heavyweight Interim title. This was actually the UFC’s first interim title fight. This status was created since current champion Tito Ortiz was injured and could not fight. The UFC did the better thing and took the two top light heavyweights at the time and matched them against each other.
Chuck had already established himself as a heavy counter hitter that was impossible to take down. Even if you took him down, he’d pop right back up to his feet and knock you out with a mysteriously powerful and awkward punch from no where.
Randy Couture was the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Coming into this fight he was 39 years old. An age where regular guys would be going for the first colonoscopy or something, he was still competing for a UFC championship. Randy Couture was a former alternate on the US Greco-Roman Wrestling Olympic team. Randy also spent about 4 years in the army where he developed his boxing. So we know he has a strong wrestling background and knows how to use his hands. We also know he seems to defy age and time.
Coming into this fight, Randy is coming off a two fight losing streak. The first one is losing the heavyweight title to Josh Barnett. The second is losing the fight to recapture the heavyweight title against Ricco Rodriguez when Josh Barnett left the UFC.
Chuck Liddell is however building himself to be the best light heavyweight fighter without a belt. He is on a 10 fight winning streak and has victories over Vitor Belfort, Guy Mezger, Kevin Randleman, and Babalu Sobral. Following this fight with Randy, he went to Japan to represent the UFC in the 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix in a mission to build the UFC name in the MMA world.
Fight fans considered this a pure striker versus wrestler fight. However Randy came out and surprised everyone by taking the fight to Chuck. He eliminated Chuck’s striking by closing the distance, putting Chuck against the fence and executing some awesome dirty boxing. In addition to the striking dominance, Randy also managed to take Chuck down numerous times including a huge slam in the first round.
Eventually it seemed that Chuck could not find a counter to Randy’s super human abilities. Chuck wanted out of the fight and Randy won via TKO in the third round.
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture II – April 2005
Two years later, the two light heavyweight juggernauts meet again. Since the last fight, Randy took the mandate of being the Light Heavyweight Interim Champion and went on to defeat Tito Ortiz to become the actual champion. Chuck went to Japan to represent the UFC and hopefully face Wanderlei Silva.
Since coming back from Japan, Chuck defeated Tito Ortiz in Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz I. He also defeated Vernon White. These two wins as well as facing off against Randy Couture as opposing coaches on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter put him in line for a title shot.
Perhaps it was their time together filming The Ultimate Fighter. Maybe Chuck went home and just studied a lot of tape on Randy. Right from the start of the fight, it was clear that Chuck came in with a game plan outside of his usual “heavy hand from no where”. Chuck moved quickly around the cage so that Randy couldn’t cut off his corners and close the distance. Chuck also used some fabulous footwork and head movement to slip Randy’s punches and allow room for him to leverage his punching power.
The fight ended with a first round knock out win as the Ice Man captured the Light Heavyweight title.
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture III – February 2006
Since Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture II, Chuck defended his belt against Jeremy Horn. Randy earned another title shot with a win over Mike Van Arsdale.
Coming into this fight, the question on everyone’s mind was whether Randy would be able to apply his wrestling and dirty boxing to win the fight. Or was Chuck going to leverage his punching power and elusiveness to knock Randy out.
The trilogy of fights between Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture mark the rise of the UFC in the US and the growing popularity of the sport. True milestones in MMA. As these two fighters will forever be remembered in the fight community, so should their battles against each other.
On the shoulders of giants, on the shoulders of giants…please enjoy the fights below.
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture I full fight video
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture II full fight video
Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture III full fight video