Certain athletes can carry a sport to the next level and every game has that watershed moment or era when it enters the sports world's consciousness. Was Chuck Liddell that guy for MMA and the UFC?
Has MMA really arrived yet? Maybe. Maybe not. It is safe to say the sport might be still be struggling badly if it weren't for the contributions in and out of the Octagon from the "Iceman."
Liddell arrived on the scene in 1998 at UFC 17. He had the look, with the mohawk and scowl, plus a love of the standup game. If you think some fans complain now about the ground game, imagine trying to sell MMA to an audience that only wanted blood and guts, and was used to watching boxers duke it out.
Liddell produced huge wins over Randy Couture at UFC 52 and 57. He also put an exclamation point on his war with Tito Ortiz by crushing him at UFC 66. That 2007 event was the first time the UFC passed the one million mark in pay-per-view buys on a single card.
There was a lot of work outside the cage that led to that moment.
Liddell, along with Dana White, basically went on a barnstorming media tour for three years.
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