Comparing legends of the past to today’s greats is a common pastime for many fans of combat sports. Former UFC light-heavyweight champion, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, recently brought up an interesting matchup involving himself and MMA’s pound-for-pound king, Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
“I would beat him, I always said that I would,” Liddell said during an interview with Gustavo Noblat. “I have the advantage in weight and height, so it would be more likely that I would beat him. But Anderson is one of my favorite fighters.”
Liddell in his prime was certainly a force to be reckoned with, piling up wins against the likes of Alistair Overeem, Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort, and Tito Ortiz. His longest winning streak spanned 10 fights while he managed to successfully defend the UFC’s light-heavyweight title four times.
Silva’s MMA career has been even more impressive. The Spider remains undefeated in the UFC (16-0), and he also holds the promotion’s record for the most consecutive and successful title defenses (10). Besides his UFC 117 performance against a testosterone fueled Chael Sonnen, Anderson has barely looked mortal inside the Octagon. He consistently finds ways to make even the most seasoned competitors look like amateurs.
A Silva vs. Liddell super-fight would have been a nice treat for UFC fans, considering the fact they’re two of the most dangerous strikers in MMA history.
It probably wouldn’t have been an action packed fight though.
Silva and Liddell are counterpunchers, with their best knockouts coming while moving backwards. Given both men’s well-documented finishing power and the respect they have for one another, the chances of an all out brawl breaking out would have been slim to none.
In terms of who would actually win the fight; it’s only rational to lean towards Silva. As dominant — and entertaining — as Liddell was during the prime, he also had his share of struggles against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Randy Couture.
Liddell wasn’t able to get past Couture during his first shot at UFC gold, and he ran into more problems two fights later when he squared up against Jackson at the 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix semifinals (he defeated Overeem in the quarterfinals). Jackson handed out a vicious beating that forced Liddell’s corner to throw in the towel and save the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s then prized asset, while UFC president Dana White watched in disbelief.
Liddell rebounded off that loss with wins against Ortiz and Vernon White before snagging the UFC’s light-heavyweight title from Couture at UFC 52. He then successfully defended the belt four times before running into Rampage once again, getting knocked out during the first round of their UFC 71 encounter.
The second loss to Jackson was the official end of the Liddell era, as The Iceman lost five of his next six fights before finally announcing his retirement in 2010. It wasn’t a fitting end for one of MMA’s most recognizable stars.
Silva on the other hand has been nothing short of perfection in his prime, and father time seems to be the only opponent capable of defeating him.
Hopefully, he’s learnt a thing or two from Liddell’s book.