You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Why not? Especially if the dog already has the tricks in his arsenal. It's amazing how quickly media-types, bloggers and fans are to write off some of the stars of mixed martial arts. It defies logic since we've seen many of the stars fight well into their late 30s. Now it is clear that former light heavyweight Chuck Liddell can't survive solely as a one-dimensional fighter. He's not putting his punches together, there's no threat of the takedown and his leg kicks have all but disappeared from his game. He's lost 3-of-4 fights, two by brutal knockout. But Liddell, 39, isn't a lost cause. At least he doesn't believe so.
"The Iceman" took the most important step to break out of this funk by mixing up his training regimen. Liddell is working with American Top Team in South Florida in an effort, as his career-long trainer John Hackleman says, to round out his skills. Liddell stopped by the ATT facility in Coconut Creek, Fla. on two occasions according to Sharon Robb of the Sun-Sentinel:
"He was down here during our seminar for a few days training, left and then came back about a week later for a few more days," said ATT general manager Richie Guerriero. "His trainer likes our team and trusts Liborio, so the door is open for Chuck to come back down to help train for his next fight."
Boxers change trainers often. Shane Mosley did so when his fighting style got in a rut with his father Jack, as trainer. He eventually went back to his Dad. Oscar De La Hoya lost his last fight but he did use both Nacho Beristain and Angelo Dundee for their knowledge. Different voices can sometimes awaken a fighter. If Liddell were Tank Abbott and only had one facet to his game, you could say the new training plan is a waste. But this is a guy who has very good kickboxing, excellent takedown defense and good wrestling. Why not use it all? The days of being just a knockout artist or a ground and pound fighter are done. The young guys like Thiago Alves, Georges St. Pierre and Rashad Evans can do a little of everything.
Robb also mentions in her story that Liddell appears to be earmarked for a fight against either Shogun Rua (if he wins this month at UFC 93) or the Rich Franklin/Dan Henderson winner. Both seem like odd scenarios. Is Rua a lock to walkover Mark Coleman? He had his arm broken the first time they met in Pride back in 2006.
And can he be ready for a Mar. 7 fight after UFC 93 on Jan. 17? The Franklin/Henderson scenario is even more puzzling. Shouldn't the winner of that fight be out of commission for a while as one of the potential coaches of the next Ultimate Fighter?
Will this new training work or is it one last desperate attempt by Liddell, a shot fighter grasping at straws?