Last week it became official that Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell had retired. Dana White and Frank Fertitta announced that Liddell would still be in the company, but working in the offices. It was an announcement that most knew was coming, but it was still a shock when it happened.
Liddell is a pioneer in this industry and helped MMA gain notoriety in the mainstream media, along with Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz, Liddell carried the UFC to where it is today. Who can forget the many memorable matches Liddell has given us with Wanderlei, Couture, Ortiz, Sobral, and of course Jeremy Horn. But, for me I will always have a special memory of Chuck Liddell.
It was October 10, 2009 and I was covering my first major event; I had finally gone from blogger to a real journalist. It was WEC Cerrone vs. Henderson, I had started meeting famous fighters, journalists, people associated with Zuffa, and trainers, many of whom I call friends now. It was in between fights I had to go to the bathroom. As I started to walk to the back I noticed some commotion and people looking at the entrance way where I was headed.
Standing at the entrance way was Liddell. Now, being that I was a professional writer now, I had to act professional and kindly I said “hello” as not to bother him but acknowledge him. He looked at me and said “hi” and shook my hand. I continued to walk on in a professional matter like it was no big deal I do this all the time. But, inside my head I was screaming, “HOLY S---! CHUCK LIDDELL JUST SHOOK MY HAND!”
Now just that alone would be a great story, but oh no it gets better. I resumed heading to the restroom as I turned a corner, not far from the entrance way, I noticed Jaime Varner standing there and talking to someone. I asked the other gentleman if there was a line and he told me there wasn’t. Well the restroom came clear and it was a friend of mine I chatted it up for a sec as he was walking out, when I turned my head to go in Jamie Varner had cut me off and went into the bathroom. I was like “hey, I was next”, but after seeing Varner fight before I thought to myself it’s better to wait.
When he came out I immediately went in and did my business, when I came out I started to head back to the entrance to the arena. Jamie Varner called out to me and I turned around, he told me he was sorry and did not know I was waiting to use the bathroom. I responded “no problem”, as he and I were talking I was walking backwards and then hit what I thought was a wall; it was Liddell.
There have only been a few times in my life were I was scared to death; when I thought I could overthrow my father, when I saw my first ghost sighting, and when I first drove in Houston. All those fears were nothing to how I felt now. When I bumped Liddell he went nowhere, barely even moved an inch. Now, at the time I was 6’3” and pushing 300lbs. I can move things. I looked at him in the eyes and said how sorry I was, he turned back gave me a half smile and said “no worries” he then went out to the arena to a thunderous applause.
I never forgot that moment and told my friends and family. It’s a moment that I always carry with me at each event every time I use the restroom. Thank you Chuck for the memories.