If Chuck Liddell was still UFC light heavyweight champion in Sept. 2012, UFC 151 would not have become the first canceled event in Zuffa history.
Appearing on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Liddell said that had he been faced with the option of defending the title against late replacement Chael Sonnen after Dan Henderson pulled out with a knee injury, he would have accepted the fight.
"I would have done anything just to keep the fight," Liddell said. "I'll fight anybody. I've already done all the training and I've already gotten ready for it. I'm in great shape and I'm the best light heavyweight in the world, I shouldn't be afraid to fight anybody."
Of course, Jon Jones was the titleholder at the time, a belt he still holds. Jones turned down the fight against Sonnen, which led to the UFC pulling the plug on the show for the first time since Zuffa purchased the company more than a decade before.
LIddell said that the events of UFC 151 are a major reason why Jones hasn't been able to connect with the fans in a way that Liddell, one of the most beloved fighters in UFC history, was able to do.
"I think people liked the way I fight," Liddell said. "My style of fighting is to go down and trying to finish the guy and trying to end fights, not laying up because I'm winning the fight, just keep going after it.
"I think pulling out of [UFC 151] really fight really hurt him with the fans," he continued. "That was, you're fighting a guy coming up from a weight class down, who, when you're given a chance, I heard an excuse about him being a southpaw, I mean, c'mon, you fought a [lefthander] the fight before. And it's not like Chael is a slick southpaw, a slick striker, he's a brawler with the stance because he shoots that way. Pulling out of that probably hurt him with the fans, I mean, it's just I think some of the stuff he says they don't agree with. You can't have everything."
If Liddell seems to have a chip on his shoulder about Jones, it likely comes from the fact that Liddell's teammate, Glover Teixeira, meets Jones for the title in the main event of UFC 172 next week. "The Iceman" went so far as to say Jones didn't win his last bout, against Alexander Gustafsson in September.
"I had at the best a draw in that fight," Liddell said. "He won two rounds, won one 10-8 for sure, so that would have been a draw in my book. He still would have retained the title with a draw, so that's still in a nice position, that's the way I saw it."
When push comes to shove, though, Liddell wants to make it clear he has nothing against Jones personally.
"I like Jon, I think he's a good guy," Liddell said. "I'd like to see him get after it more and try to finish more. But he's tough man, he's doing what he does."