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Morning Report: Chuck Liddell says fighters 'playing it safe' is the biggest problem in MMA

Getty Images via Zuffa LLC

Whether it's fighter pay, dubious PED exemptions, or any other topic du jour that inevitably leads to heated 200+ post debates, mixed martial arts has plenty of issues on the table still waiting to be resolved. But if you ask Chuck Liddell, the biggest problem in MMA is one in which the athletes are directly at fault.

"I'm probably not going to be popular with the fighters with this one, but my biggest problem is guys playing it safe," Liddell recently told AXS TV's Inside MMA. "I understand it from a coach's standpoint and a manager's standpoint. I understand why you'd want to play it safe and want to win the fight, win every fight. I get it. But do I want to watch a guy go beat a guy for four rounds and then ride him the fifth round not doing anything?

"You want to be worth more? Go out and fight. Have fun. Knock people out. Submit them. Beat them. I don't care. Just go try to finish a fight."

This isn't exactly a new complaint. Liddell has been ranting about overly conservative gameplans for years, albeit with increasing fervor as of late. Still, as an executive for the UFC, it's notable to hear Liddell throw the name of welterweight star Georges St-Pierre around as an example of his criticism, which is exactly what he did during the segment.

"That's one of the reasons I retired," Liddell said in closing. "To stick around, the way I was fighting, I would have to start playing it safe. I went out on my shield. That's the way I liked it. I fought that way my whole career. I don't want to bore people my last three or four fights."



Liddell talks MMA problems. During an interview with Inside MMA, UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell identified fighters "playing it safe" as the biggest problem in modern mixed martial arts.

Silva cries over fight fixing. Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva grew emotional on Brazilian television over the weekend when confronted by rumors of fight fixing at UFC 162. Silva unceremoniously lost his title to Chris Weidman via second-round knockout two weeks ago.

Technique talk. Luke Thomas discusses the rise of spinning kicks and attacks in mixed martial arts with Blackzilian striking coach Henri Hooft in the latest edition of Technique Talk.

Weekend MMA. Even though it was a slow weekend, there was still some fun to be had. If you missed it, check out event results for Legacy Fighting Championship 21 and Cage Warriors 57.

Rickels inspired by Weidman. If David Rickels needed any more inspiration to dethrone Bellator's golden boy, Michael Chandler, it arrived on a silver platter the night he sat down to watch UFC 162.

Maldonado changes camps. In an unfortunate messy divorce, Fabio Maldonado parted ways with Team Nogueira, his home since 2004, due to a business disagreement with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. SporTV first reported the situation, which was then translated by Fighters Only.



This gem from notlookoutawhale popped up over the weekend and was promptly taken down, but luckily we found a mirror in case you missed it.


Paul Daley fought his third fight of 2013 over the weekend, and suffice to say, he opened up an axe wound on Lukasz Chlewicki. Enjoy.


There's worse ways to spend your morning than watching the latest edition of Road to the Octagon.


Welcome to the 'Knockout of the Year' discussion, Mrs. Holly Holm.


So Johny Hendricks packs a harder punch than Matt Mitrione, eh? Can't go wrong with punching machine logic.

(HT: Reddit)


Only loosely MMA related here, but hey, apparently Joe Rogan has a new TV series.


Anyone worried that a lengthy layoff meant the Korean Zombie would come back out of shape can put that notion to bed. Check out Jung's final training session before his UFC 163 preparations kick into high gear.

















Announced over the weekend (Friday, July 19, 2013 - Sunday, July 21, 2013):

  • UFC 164: Dustin Poirier (13-3) vs. Erik Koch (13-2) upgraded to PPV main card
  • UFC 165: Matt Mitrione (6-2) vs. Brendan Schaub (9-3)
  • UFC 165: Pat Healy (29-16, 1 NC) vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (20-0)
  • CFA 12: Fallon Fox (3-0) vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith (1-0)
  • Star-divide


    Today's Fanpost of the Day is an entertaining preview courtesy of Archelon: Pettis-Bendo II, hooray(?)

    Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson should be more popular. Both men are young, personable, exciting. Two of the best 155 pounders on the planet. Their prior fight was astonishing and a fitting swansong for the always-stellar World Extreme Cagefighting. Why don't people like them more?


    Head-kicker, cage-jumper. Violent and crazy creative and crowd pleasing, albeit with some caveats. Was on MTV and those who watched it (I haven't for a while. The Maxx still on?) remarked on his natural charisma. Teenage girls were apparently big fans. Proud owner of one of the few moments in mma which transcend the sport.

    ¿por qué no le gusta, google translate?

    After beating Henderson, he fought Clay Guida. Most expected him to curb stomp Guida, given that he'd beaten strong wrestlers (Roller, Henderson). He didn't. A useful lesson for him- in the rock-paper-scissors game of mma, some will employ the Bart Simpson method, and then force "rock" through as hard as possible. Footwork-based TDD and a countering style got shut down by relentless takedowns. It happens. Crushed most of his hype and did a lot to reinforce an image of WEC fighters as second rate.

    Next fight against Jeremy Stephens was tepid. When Stephens attempted to Guida him, Pettis used his own wrestling to win the decision.

    Since then, has alternated shocking blowouts of quality fighters with just being injured a lot. A LOT. No matter how good you are, you need to fight regularly to keep people excited about watching you. In addition, makes it harder to escape past failures - Guida fight is inescapably relevant because he's only had a few fights since then, despite being 10 years ago, when he was... 12 or some s--t.

    After waxing Donald Cerrone with a liver kick, was set to fight Henderson for the title. Gil Melendez got there first. Instead of waiting for the next shot, he asked the boss if he could go down, fight Jose Aldo. Despite (because of?) the logjam at featherweight, Zuffa said sure. Pettis got injured, as is his wont. Fight was off.

    He asked the UFC if he could go back to 155 and take TJ Grant's title shot, which was widely perceived as a dick move. "First he tried to steal the shot from KZ / Lamas, then he tried to steal TJ's." Some blame rests with Zuffa, who imprinted on the plasticity of a young brain that if he asked for nonsensical title shots, he would actually get them.

    Was probably going to face Josh Thomson, but Grant got injured, and now Pettis faces Henderson. Somewhere Fortuna the Goddess of Chance laughs at her own whimsy- Thomson and Pettis were going to fight, and the matchup got killed because someone else got injured. Ha ha ha.


    Not a technique guy, and even if I was Connor, Jacques Slacques, kenshin and a guy would break it down infinitely better than I. But Pettis is essentially a superior version of his earlier self. Is displaying even more precision and power than before. Although Stephens is no Guida, Pettis demonstrated willingness to wrestle and fight ugly and disciplined. This is underratedly important. Underratedly. Improvements can be considered gravy, because he was good enough to beat Henderson last time. Attends Roufusport, thus adept at grappling with scramble-heavy wrestlers with big hair.


    Toothpick chewer, god-botherer. Wild and woolly in the cage, takes the fight wherever he can, near-fearless (caveats, sorta). Not-proud recipient of one of the few moments in mma to transcend the sport. Champion with consecutive defences in a brutally deep and talented weight class. Can generate megawatt puppydog likability as well as thrilling violence.

    ¿por qué no le gusta, google translate?

    Some get vexed by his "CAN I GET AN AMEN" extreme religiosity, and his tendency to make a vagina shape with his hands before he fights. Vulgar.

    Decisions! Henderson has a lot in a row now. These guys are tough. Worse, four of his decisions were very close. This order represents how close the people thought they were, from "prolly lost" to "prolly won."

    Edgar II ----- Cerrone I -------- Melendez -------- Edgar I

    The Melendez scuff in particular was a bizarrely perfect split between fans, media, etc as to who was the victor. So basically close to a draw. Regardless, he won all those decisions. Worth pointing out- none of those them, even Edgar II, are a "robbery".

    Two reasons compound why this annoys people- He's a titanic 155er. Tree trunk legs. It sits ill with the David and Goliath reflex. No-one roots for the big guy. Secondly- how did those fights go down?

    Despite being super aggressive a lot of the time, Benson can resort to circling out and kicking. Why does he do this? I don't think it's due to getting gassed, beat up, or even specifically discouraged. He still looks confident, largely unscathed (Cerrone I - exception) and full of energy late. 2 reasons, for me.

    - Fundamentally he isn't the greatest defensive fighter, and his kicks are the least risky strike he can throw without getting hit in the snout.Risk mitigation is generally a fairly essential part of being a champion.See also: underratedly.

    - His optimal offensive fight style is to throw the kitchen sink. Grappling, kicks, punches. I feel that when he gets countered on a strike or technique, he tosses it out of the window, regardless of actual efficacy-to-negative consequences ratio. "Better not do that again!" Eg: the low kicks in the second Edgar fight.

    Over 5 rounds, this means techniques basically get stripped from him as the fight goes on, and he's often left with a limited skill set which doesn't suit his style at all late.

    People don't like this. Fights are still considered proxies for, well, fights, and it leaves a nasty sense of "Frankie Cerrone was starting to pull away late, if it had gone further ellipsis". On the plus side, the Melendez fight was something of an exception, which shows improvement.


    Just a s--t ton more offensively capable. Back in early WEC much of his attack was based around getting them to the ground and stacking them for GNP, or going for that nasty guillotine. Now clinch knees, tightened up overall striking, ground and pound from strange angles, whopping leg and body kicks etc etc.


    Think Pettis wins again. While Bendo has upped offense, is still defensively liable. Pettis looked near unhittable against Cerrone and Lauzon and needed shockingly little to put either one away. I think he counters Bendo hard once or twice, backs him up, then stalks him (read Jack Slack for great breakdowns on how Pettis corrals his enemies with his tendency to move ‘em on (hit ‘em up), hit ‘em up (move ‘em on), move ‘em on (hit ‘em up), rawhide) up against the cage and beats him up as Bendo circles.

    Bendo's best plan to go for berserker Cain / Sonnen takedown / strike frenzy to keep Pettis on the back foot because a careful counter game is Wheelhouse Tony, but I think Pettis knows that and has fundamentally better hurting ability to boot. Guida success was predicated on being a control fighter, and this Bendo is emphatically not in any way. Regardless, Bendo kicks ass if he gets rolling. Extremely creative in his own right, hits hard, kicks hard, ground and pounds HARD and don't let him grab your neck if your brain enjoys oxygenated blood.

    Bendo has advantage in strength of schedule and the fact that he actually fights more than once a leap year


    I hope people can get really excited. Let go of bitterness. Whether Bendo won a favourable decision or two has no bearing on how good this fight might be. Sure, TJ Grant deserved the shot, but he ain't fighting. No-one really cares about other people's religious tendencies except Hitchens / Dawkins-esque nutters. These two seem fundamentally good guys, more importantly great fighters.

    Let's all come together, and celebrate what we all, truly, really love doing:

    Posting angry/sad/disappointed gifs when Pettis inevitably gets injured and pulls out of the fight.

    Somewhere right now, he unpacks the Shouldersmasher/Kneeraper 4000 from its box, looking at it like Rumble Johnson looks at a deep-fried triple-bacon-wrapped cheesesteak. Thought I'd better get in there and write this as quick as possible.


    Ben Askren has never pulled out of a Bellator match due to injury.

    Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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