FightHype.com recently caught up with former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell to talk about his training for his upcoming clash with Keith Jardine at UFC 76 on September 22nd at The Honda Center in Anaheim California. You don't want to miss what he had to say about Jardine, Wanderlei Silva, Quinton Jackson, Shogun Rua and much more.
PC: How have you been doing my man?
CL: I'm doing great; training hard and getting ready.
PC: How is your training going for this fight and who are some of the guys you are training with?
CL: I train with the same guys I've always trained with: Glover Teixeira, Scott Lighty, John Hackleman, you know, my trainer, Scott Adams, Chuck Sandler and Eric Swartz.
PC: Before we get into the fight with Keith, you have MMAJacked.com coming out. Can you tell us about the site a little bit?
CL: It's coming along good. I'm trying to get a website where it has all of the things that I want on it. If I was a fan, I would want interviews with good fighters. It's a social network, obviously, but it's one of them things where I'm trying to connect with everyone. I'm trying to make it like a fight finder thing. I want to know records. I want to be able to go on there and if I'm in a strange town, know what gyms they have there and go talk to people and hang out. If someone is in a gym in Obispo, they could find out where I'm training at; or if they're going to Illinois, find out where Matt Hughes is training at. I want to have that information available on the website.
PC: Are you a big football fan and if so, I'm sure you are looking forward to the season coming up?
CL: I am a big football fan. I do Fantasy Football every year; usually a couple of leagues. I'm a Green Bay fan, except for my boys which is the Chargers. I have friends on the Chargers. Lorenzo Neal is a good friend of mine and as long as he is playing with the Chargers, I'm a Chargers fan. They're tough man. Neal is a bad man at fullback. Every back behind him has always gotten 1,000 yards.
PC: Yeah, I knew you used to play, but I didn't know if you were still into it.
CL: Yeah, I played in high school and 1 year of college.
PC: What made you give up football?
CL: It was going back and fourth between and honestly, to tell the truth, they were trying to get me bigger and saying, "You need to get bigger." I was getting a lot of pressure to use something to make me bigger that wasn't natural. I was working out 6 days a week as hard as I could and I wasn't getting any bigger. It wasn't worth it to me. I was playing Division 2 football and doing steroids and that stuff was not worth it to me to play.
PC: Have you had a chance to get a vacation since the Rampage fight?
CL: I started training a week later. I started training again a week later and I found time for little things to have fun. I spent time with my kids; went to Disneyland and did that kind of thing and had a blast and stuff like that, but for the most part, I've been back to training. I just want to get back out there and fight.
PC: How important was it for you to get right back in the gym because John told me that you used to take a month or so off to just do Chuck?
CL: That's one of the things we've talked about. Me and John talked about it and it's one of those things where I'm getting older now and I just can't take that much time off. You need to get back in the gym and start training. You don't have to kill yourself, but you need to be back in their working. I think a week off is perfect for me. If I have an injury, I'll take a little more time off, but without injury, a week off and then get back in the gym and start training again. I love training anyway. I love sparring, hanging out with the guys and now, I'm making enough money in the fights that I don't have to do so much peripheral stuff. Before it was hard to pass up all that stuff because we had to make up for what we weren't making in the fight, but now I make enough in the fights to where I don't have to do that extra stuff. I turned down a $10,000 autograph signing for 2 hours, but it was to spend the day with my kid. I told them, "You know what, honestly, I'm with my son. I can't do it. I'm sorry." I can't do it and that was 10 grand for 2 hours. It was important for me to stay with my kid. I'm not trying to be a dick, but you have to understand, it's not worth it for me. I get people giving me a hard time for not doing seminars. You gotta understand, if you're going to take me out of my home away from my kids for 3 days, because I would have to leave on Friday and come back on Sunday, you can't charge 10 or 15 grand for that. I can't, because you know what, I'd rather pay you 5 grand to stay home and play with my kids for those 3 days.
PC: It has to be nice to finally be able to turn things like that down to be with your family?
CL: Well back in the day, you can't. It's one of those things that's relevant to what you're making to fight. When you're making 50 grand to fight you, can't turn down a $10,000 deal. When you're making the money we're making now, you can pick and choose which one's you want to do. I'm a nice guy. I tell everybody I've been doing mixed martial arts my whole life. I will do seminars for people. If I'm in town, I'm reasonable. If I have to be in town anyway, I'll do a seminar for you very reasonably, but if you're actually asking me to leave my house to come to your town to do a seminar and then go home, it's going to cost you a lot of money. If I have to be there for some other reason, I like martial arts, I like teaching and doing that stuff so we could make something happen; especially if I know the guy. I try to help out guys. If I'm in your town for something and I know you, I don't mind doing a seminar at your school. I did a private [seminar] with a kid up in Colorado one time. He wanted to get private lessons and I'm talking to him the whole time and I find out he's working 2 jobs and putting himself through school. At the end of the lessons, he asked, "How much do I owe you?" I said, "I don't want nothing kid; get out of here." How am I going to charge the kid? I was charging $150 per private? How am I going to charge this kid who's working his way through college and just excited that I'm there? It was worth him giving up his work and all of that stuff he does to pay me 150 bucks an hour. Fuck it! I had fun with the kid. I was teaching him stuff. He's a nice kid; great guy and now me and him are friends.
PC: That's good to hear because that's the thing people will never hear about Chuck Liddell.
CL: Yeah, you know I'm listening to this kid say he's working 2 jobs and he's going to school full time; he's doing this and that and I'm like, "I can't take your money bro. I'm sorry. I'm doing okay! It was fun working with you anyway, you know?"
PC: You're doing more than okay now!
CL: Yeah, that was back in the day, but yeah I'm okay now (laughing).
PC: You said you took your kids out to Disneyland. Is it tough to do things like that being Chuck Liddell?
CL: Honestly, they take care of me because of that. The Disneyland people, I have a guy, he's not too bad, a good guy that takes us through the exits where we don't have to wait in line, which is a big perk. We were in the park 8 hours and my kids rode every ride they wanted to ride. They're spoiled. Like me, I'm spoiled. I have my assistant at my house. He's a buddy of mine that does all of my stuff for me and everyone always gives me a hard time about him taking advantage of me and he's doing this and doing that. He's been gone for a week. He went with his girlfriend to go hang out with his family. I can't wait until he gets back. I don't want to do all of this shit. All of the shit that he does, I can't stand it.
PC: You don't want to come home and have to pick up behind yourself huh?
CL: No. You know I'm out there training hard, working hard and doing all of this other stuff. I don't want to do all of this stuff. I want to be able to come home and say, "Hey bro, I need this done, this done and this done; thanks" and I'm on my way. He just delegates it to one of the other guys that works with us and all that stuff, but it gets done. In other words, if he's not here now, I'm running around doing the stuff. I hate this. Honestly, I don't know where half the stuff is in my house. I had to ask my girl where my hose was.
PC: What's up with the hot sauce drinking thing that you like to do?
CL: The thing is, I love hot sauce and it's one of those things from when I was a wrestler and I was cutting weight, I used to open the refrigerator and look at it. Really, the only thing we used to have when we were poor is hot sauce and it had no calories. You can grab it, pick which one you like and put some on your tongue and it would kind of fill you up. I wasn't hungry. It was just something to snack on and it had no calories. I like hot food. The thing is, now I get people sending me this hot, hot, hot stuff. Let me explain something. The kind of sauce I like is so good and so hot that your ears are burning, but you have to take another bite. It tastes so good, you could take another bite. The sauce most people are trying to give me is just hot. It just burns the hell out of you.
PC: Do guys ever try you in the streets?
CL: I've never had that problem. I've been lucky. I think I'm mean enough looking, tough enough looking and I'm big enough to where most guys aren't going to try me anyway, but it's just one of those things. I'm a laid back guy anyway. I've had guys say things where there were certain things I could say back and force guys to say something and get tough and there were other things that I can say that defuse it. I say the things that defuse the situation. I'm not trying to prove anything. I fought my whole life coming up. I fought in the streets. I couldn't even tell you how many fights I've had. Actually, we were talking the other day and you would be surprised how many good MMA fighters hadn't been in that many street fights. I talk to a couple of guys that say, "I've been in 2." Good fighters, fighting on big shows against tough guys. A lot of guys are just tough and can fight.
PC: Right after the Rampage fight, you wanted to come right back against Wanderlei Silva. Do you think we'll ever get to see that fight?
CL: You know, I don't know. I think it will be a good fight for the fans. I've always said that. I hope he's going to do it. Everybody keeps asking if I'm going to do it in December or something and no ones talked to me about it. I'm getting questions like, "So when are you fighting Wanderlei, in December?" I'm just like, "No one's talked to me about that."
PC: I've received emails saying you were fighting him in November.
CL: No way. I could turn around and fight him in November. They were talking about it and I said I would do it. If I'm healthy after this one, I would do it. I've done it before. I fought Randleman and Guy Metzger in 3 weeks.
PC: Have you spoke to Rampage since your last fight with him?
CL: Yeah, I ran into him. I like I actually like Rampage. He did that. I have nothing against him. He beat me. He won't do it again. I like him, he's a nice guy. He's a tough guy and a tough fighter.
PC: It seems like you dislike Wanderlei kind of how you dislike Tito Ortiz. Is that the case?
CL: Not quite, you know? I don't have that big of a problem with Wanderlei. Tito, I have a real problem with. I just don't like that guy. It's personal. He doesn't know how to treat people good. It's not really anything he did to me. He dodged me; so what? He knew I was going to kick his ass. It's other stuff that he does that bothers me and how he treats other people. Wanderlei, I really think it's not Wanderlei. I think it's more of his camp and people talking for him; some business type of deal. I certainly hope so. I respect him as a fighter, so I'm really hoping it's his camp. Wanderlei has never ducked anyone, so why would he all of a sudden duck me? I just think it has to do with the people behind him.
PC: You're preparing to face Keith Jardine at UFC 76. How does it feel to headline a card in California?
CL: It's nice. It's actually nice to be in California.
PC: What do you think of Jardine as a fighter?
CL: I think he's dangerous because he hits hard. Technically, I think I'm going to pick him apart, but he's one punch away from winning the fight. You have to be real careful for this guy. You have to have good defense, something I've not been known for. I have a tendency to want to just get in there and bang. My trainer has been giving me a hard time about that. We've been working my defense and working my attacks. I just want to get out there and bang. I feel like if I hit you more times than you hit me, I'm going to win because I hit harder. That's just the way I feel. This guy has one punch power. I thought Forrest was winning that fight all the way up until he got caught. One punch power and he got caught and it changed the whole fight. Anybody that has one punch power is dangerous any time he's on his feet. That's the way I feel about me. You could kick my ass for four and a half rounds, but if I'm on my feet, I still have a chance to win. I have one punch power.
PC: One thing I felt you got away from, Chuck, is your kicks. You have very good kicks, but you haven't used them in a while
CL: Honestly, I've had some MCL problems so I got away from using them for a while. My kicks are coming back though.
PC: Jardine is known for his hard leg kicks. How much have you emphasized that in
CL: I'm here. I don't mind a guy wanting to leg kick me. I'm a kickboxer. That's what we do. If he wants to go leg kick for leg kick, I'm here!
PC: A lot of people are not giving Keith a chance against you. Do you see this fight going past one round?
CL: I don't think it's going out of one round. I don't want it to, but he's a tough guy. Everyone forgets, until he got caught in his last fight, if he beat Houston, he would've been in line for a title shot. Everybody forgets that. Any given day, if you get caught by a guy that has one punch power, you're going to have a hard time.
PC: You've always bounced back well after previous losses. Do you think you will be more cautious in this fight or will you try and get him out of there?
CL: I'm going to come out and fight my fight. I'm going to fight the way I fight. I'm not going to change the way I fight. I get asked, did my confidence take a hit? No! I made a mistake, got caught and paid for it. I already paid for it and now I'm back again. This fight, I'm not going to pay for that same mistake again. I'm not going to go out there and fight different. I'm going to fight the way I fight. I should come out victorious and make another good run before I retire. I want 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 wins. I plan on knocking him out. It will be another knockout win.
PC: Shogun Rua will be fighting on the undercard. Can you see Forrest pulling off the upset and would you like to fight Shogun if he's successful?
CL: That's going to be a good fight to watch. If Shogun wins, I'll definitely be interested in fighting him and if Forrest wins. I'd be interested in fighting him as well. I think Forrest can pull off the upset. He's a tough guy man. Don't ever count him out, he's a tough guy.
PC: Randy Couture is fighting a young, strong and determined guy in Gabriel Gonzaga. Do you think Randy could give us another one?
CL: I never count Randy out man. You can't ever count that guy out. It's going to be a great fight. I'm interested to see it. I don't like to make predictions, but you can't ever count Randy out.
PC: Chuck, it's an honor speaking to you as always. Good luck next month. Is there anything you want to say to your fans in closing?
CL: Thank you! Check us out. Watch the fight on September 22nd. It's going to be fun.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrLouis1ana ]