Pros Picks: Liddell vs. Rua

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POLL: Who takes it?
Liddell - (T)KO 59% (40)
Liddell - Sub 3% (2)
Liddell - Dec 12% (8)
Shogun - (T)KO 16% (11)
Shogun - Sub 3% (2)
Shogun - Dec 7% (5)
grappler0000
4/16/09 5:12:07PM
A few years back, a showdown between Chuck Liddell and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua would have been a fight fan’s dream matchup. Liddell was the defending UFC light heavyweight champion and at the top of his game while laying out opponents like kitchen tile. Rua was on a meteoric rise through Pride Fighting Championships’ ranks, rivaling Liddell’s fistic floor masonry in Japan. Before Zuffa bought out Pride, it seemed like a full-scale tilt between these two explosive knockout artists would never materialize.

Thankfully the fight will finally come to fruition this Saturday at UFC 97 in Montreal, but like Liddell’s stellar conquest of Rua’s former Chute Boxe teammate Wanderlei Silva, the matchup is being purchased off the shelf a few years after its expiration date. Looking at his most recent bouts, Liddell’s age appears to be catching up to him and the 39-year-old icon just might be a bit past his fighting prime.

Rua, 27, has had a rocky transition to the cage, where his stamina has been harshly tested. Once feared for his heavy, looping punches, Liddell has been knocked out at the hands of Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans in the last two years. Rua was soundly beaten by Forrest Griffin and nearly suffocated in a near hilarious, though triumphant, scuffle with fighting fossil Mark Coleman.

Luckily for the fans though, Liddell-Rua should still be an all-out war, a skirmish that could wind up being a “fight of the year” candidate when all is said and done. Will Liddell’s experience and hunger to recapture his title, along with a new striking coach, earn him another highlight-reel knockout? Will Rua have made the necessary adjustments to avoid exahaustion and finally get on the tear that UFC fans expected from him from the start?

Many professional trainers and fighters think they have the answer to those questions. Sherdog.com recently polled dozens of the pros in an attempt to get a read on the pulse of the MMA elite. Some were a little hesitant to comment on the fight, but the brave ones put their names and reputations on the line and boldly picked a winner.

Link
grappler0000
4/16/09 5:13:22PM
I'm picking Liddell, but I honestly thought the picks wouldn't be so one sided.
KaibaThedon
4/16/09 5:36:15PM
Chucky by UD I guess.
loller90278
4/16/09 6:25:04PM
i'm honestly surprised at how uneven the pics are. 18-2 by the pros? am i the only one pretty confident that shogun will win? I doubt chuck learned everything there is to know about defense from training with H. Davis, and Shogun looks to be in good shape (from the countdown show). I'm expecting a trip takedown from shogun late in the first and some sort of leg lock.
postman
4/16/09 6:26:11PM
Duke Roufus seems confident in Chuck might change my pick. I hope its a war!
Chuteboxer
4/16/09 7:53:54PM

Posted by loller90278

i'm honestly surprised at how uneven the pics are. 18-2 by the pros? am i the only one pretty confident that shogun will win? I doubt chuck learned everything there is to know about defense from training with H. Davis, and Shogun looks to be in good shape (from the countdown show). I'm expecting a trip takedown from shogun late in the first and some sort of leg lock.



You're not the only one. This whole lopsided affair is ridiculous. Rua had a bad day against Forrest, who's looked great recently, and he had a bad day against Coleman. Only one of those are inexcusable, but I don't think Rua's gonna come into this fight with the cardio problems he did last time. He should have adjusted by now.

Chuck's the one who's not the same. Sharpening boxing skills is fine, but even then, I'm not sure he's gonna be any different from what he's been doing in all his other fights. I'll go out on a limb and call it. Rua by third round TKO.
EvenFlow
4/16/09 7:56:39PM
The pro picks on sherdog are notoriously made up, especially a poll like 18-2 which is just ridiculous. Look at the Shamrock vs Diaz poll, you can see the same bias opinions in almost every "pro pick" on there. All sherdog has shown in this respect is to show us most pros are terrible at picks. Even if some or all of them were real whats the point of having it when you have polls that are 18-2 when its clearly a close fight and should even be reversed or at least close.

I've heard all the rebuttal for Liddell's case but the fact of the matter is hes one dimentional and training with all the thai boxing and boxing coaches in the world arnt going to get his overall striking up to par with Shogun's in one training camp. Where as Shogun's cardio can be turned in that amount of time because hes finally healthy training properly without injuries. I'll remind everyone since they still seem to forget, Shogun fought Forrest with an injury and got off surgery before the Coleman fight.

Liddell could land a big shot for the knockout, but whens the last time he did? UFC 57 against Randy, even Tito gave chuck fits standing. I like Chuck a lot hes one of the coolest people you can meet but he hasnt evolved and I'm shocked that hes the "safe pick" just because people are fickle and dont understand knee injuries or more specifically leg injuries and how it affects training. I guess we'll see all the bandwagon jumpers true colors regardless of the outcome especially if Shogun wins people will convert over and it will be hilarious.
sparky
4/16/09 7:59:08PM
Patrick Cote: I’ll go with Chuck by super overhand [that will] knock the **** out of Rua.

I like how Cote thinks!!!!!
chitownsfinest15
4/16/09 8:10:55PM
so how many more "bad days" can we give Rua? i mean come one...a high profile fighter like himself doesnt really have bad days...the forres fight he obviously didnt seem to enthused about fighting him so he was trying to scrap out a decision in the end...and coleman he wasnt even ready for...guy was out of shape and looked like garbage...i'm sick of everyone saying hes always having bad days...give it up...
xphycorx
4/16/09 8:12:33PM
everyone needs to get off liddell's d***. he's done.
chitownsfinest15
4/16/09 8:14:47PM
if they are so made up then why is ti that the poll on here has everyone chuck winning the fight? makes no sense on what your saying...
chuckw94
4/16/09 8:24:09PM
Shogun by decision
EvenFlow
4/16/09 8:29:08PM

Posted by chitownsfinest15

so how many more "bad days" can we give Rua? i mean come one...a high profile fighter like himself doesnt really have bad days...the forres fight he obviously didnt seem to enthused about fighting him so he was trying to scrap out a decision in the end...and coleman he wasnt even ready for...guy was out of shape and looked like garbage...i'm sick of everyone saying hes always having bad days...give it up...



What kind of ignorant rant is this? do you understand injuries at all, let alone leg/knee injuries? I guess not.
loller90278
4/16/09 9:02:22PM
and on a side note, shogun's never been KO'd. I doubt chuck can knock him out if chuck couldn't even KO wanderlei. He hit him with some really good shots and wanderlei didn't even flinch, and wanderlei's not known for his chin.
postman
4/16/09 9:09:23PM
Sticking with Shogun Leg kicks baby leg kicks Then a head kick
wapttn
4/16/09 9:10:53PM
I think most fans realized that liddell was coming off prime after his second KO loss. There are certain fights where a loss doesn't damage one's career... but chuck crumpled when evans hit him and that's something that a lot of fans will remember. With that said, this isn't a make or break fight for liddell. He's likely still a top10 lhw in most peoples rankings.. not to mention he's a ufc legend and close friend of dana white.

The fight has a few variables that are huge x factors

1. shoguns conditioning: the guy gassed quick in both of his last fights. The excuse for the griffin fight was a knee injury and the excuse for the coleman fight was the long layoff. I think a long layoff is a very poor excuse for poor conditioning but who knows. If shogun comes in with a full gas tank then it'll be a war.. if not, liddell will put him away.

2. shogun pre and post pride: My personal theory involves the lax drug testing policies of pride but you can't deny that shogun has looked like a shadow of the fighter he used to be back in the OWGP. If you buy into the excuses then there's a chance that he could come back strong... in which case he may be a favourite in this fight. If he's the same guy from the forrest and coleman fight, then it might be a short night for shogun.

3. Liddell's chin: It would seem that once you take a few big shots, your chin is never the same. Before rampage I wouldn't have questioned liddell's chin... but since that fight he's been dropped at least once in every fight that he's been in, including the devastating KO from rashad.

4. Liddell's striking defense: Huge holes, big openings... shogun was/is a skilled striker and could very well exploit those openings if liddell hasn't tightened things up

I'm predicting a 2nd rd tko for liddell... but too many unknown variables for me to be sure
Chuteboxer
4/16/09 9:24:49PM

Posted by chitownsfinest15

so how many more "bad days" can we give Rua? i mean come one...a high profile fighter like himself doesnt really have bad days...the forres fight he obviously didnt seem to enthused about fighting him so he was trying to scrap out a decision in the end...and coleman he wasnt even ready for...guy was out of shape and looked like garbage...i'm sick of everyone saying hes always having bad days...give it up...



Come on, dude. Every one has bad days. Think about it; haven't you ever been in a sport where you've done a match or game or whatever and you did poorly, regardless of whether or not you won? Didn't you feel afterwards that you could've done so much better?

Even Chuck has bad days. Remember Jardine?
Aaronno9
4/16/09 11:37:55PM
Patrick Cote: I’ll go with Chuck by super overhand [that will] knock the **** out of Rua.



Lol.

People need to cut the **** with the whole "Chuck is one dimensional" crap. Do you think its his kick boxing thats stopped so many good grapplers from taking him down? No. Its his wrestling. Its such a stupid argument. It makes me want to break my own fingers.
EvenFlow
4/17/09 12:04:08AM

Posted by Aaronno9

Patrick Cote: I’ll go with Chuck by super overhand [that will] knock the **** out of Rua.



Lol.

People need to cut the **** with the whole "Chuck is one dimensional" crap. Do you think its his kick boxing thats stopped so many good grapplers from taking him down? No. Its his wrestling. Its such a stupid argument. It makes me want to break my own fingers.



In all fairness takedown defense is a part of striking whether its technically wrestling or not, so you're right its not really an argument. Obviously you cant be a straight up striker like Liddell in MMA with no takedown defense or other skills nobody is arguing that, but you need to stop the takedowns in order to strike, technically takedown defense is part of striking in MMA.
Jackelope
4/17/09 12:29:14AM
@ Evenflow

I wouldn't necessarily go along with that, although I do see your point. I think if you want to be a successful pure striker in MMA you've got to work your TD defense, but there have certainly been examples of good strikers with poor TD defense who have been relatively successful.


Strikers with what I would consider poor TD defense-
Anderson Silva
Donald Cerrone
Melvin Manhoef

Strikers with what I would consider good TD defense-
Chuck Liddell
Mirko Crocop
Thiago Alves

Obviously those aren't all the names available in each category, but those are just a few that jump out at me right away

mentalcase
4/17/09 1:06:48AM
with majority of pros and guys on here picking liddell, it reminds me of the lead up to mir vs nog

and makes me think shogun may actually win even tho im picking chuck
grappler0000
4/17/09 1:22:43AM

Posted by mentalcase

with majority of pros and guys on here picking liddell, it reminds me of the lead up to mir vs nog

and makes me think shogun may actually win even tho im picking chuck



I know...I think I would actually feel better about my pick if it wasn't such a wash. I know it sounds funny, but it's true. The first GSP/Serra fight was the same way as well.
EvenFlow
4/17/09 2:54:01AM
I agree with you Jackalope which is why I said "takedown defense and other skills" referring to strikers in MMA needing to cope or overcome wrestling in so many words. There's definatly different cases from fighter to fighter and matchup to matchup which makes it interesting.
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