Rare Footage of Chuck Liddell’s Fights Before Official MMA Rules Were Introduced

Rare Footage of Chuck Liddell’s Fights Before Official MMA Rules Were Introduced

Chuck Liddell’s long-awaited return to MMA last month was a disappointment. The now 48-year-old fighter showed none of the explosive power that characterised his career and fell to a first-round KO loss to longtime nemesis Tito Ortiz.

However, while this may have been newer MMA fans first exposure to The Iceman in action judging his skills by his most recent performance would be a disservice to the monumental impact he had on the sport during his prime years.

A decorated karate black belt, Liddell had a luxury not shared by many of his pugilistic peers of the era in that he was also an accomplished collegiate wrestler. These skills allowed Chuck to implement a sprawl-and-brawl style that would eventually set a blueprint on how defensive wrestling could be used to keep the fight on the feet.

A true pioneer of MMA, Liddell emerged on the mixed martial arts scene during a time when the sport was still years away from actually defining a universal ruleset. In fact, in just his second ever professional bout, Liddell travelled to Brazil to compete in Vale Tudo. For the uninitiated, Vale Tudo translates to anything goes, and contests would see combatants compete bare-knuckle without gloves and freely engage in techniques now considered fouls such as headbutts and groin shots

Despite his lack of experience, Liddell would not meet a fellow rookie in his first Vale Tudo bout. His opponent was Jose “Pele” Landi-Jones, a ferocious striker in his own right who had earned a reputation as a legend of the Brazilian scene having already competed in 15 no-rules fights. Despite coming in as a heavy underdog, Liddell was fearless in his offence and took the fight to his vastly more experienced opponent.

The bout was contested over a single 30-minute round, and neither man would show an ounce of restraint. In the end, Liddell managed to mix his striking up with a varied wrestling offence to earn the unanimous decision win. This fight is a must-watch for anyone not acquainted with Liddell’s best work, or those interested in seeing the spectacle from which the modern sport of MMA was born.