Chuck Liddell understands why so many people are seething with anger right now.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion was admittedly horrified after watching the video where 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered after Minnesota Police pinned him to the ground and kept a knee on his neck until he eventually died after repeatedly telling them he couldn’t breathe.
In the wake of Floyd’s tragic death, protests have started across the United States, and while most have been peaceful, numerous others have resulted in rioting. Many stores and businesses have been vandalized with confrontations taking place between protestors, police and business owners.
The UFC Hall of Famer found himself in the middle of an escalating situation in Huntington Beach, Calif. this past weekend where he took it upon himself to intervene and stop a volatile dispute from turning violent.
“I’m all for protesting,” Liddell explained when speaking to MMA Fighting on Monday. “You want to protest, whether I believe what you do or not, I support your right to protest. These [protests], I get it. I think anyone that has watched [the George Floyd video], it’s hard to watch.
“I hadn’t heard what happened at first and then I see it and I was watching it like ‘hold on, guys, get your knee off him’ and at that point I didn’t know he died. Watching it like are they going to stop? Is nobody going to say anything? Watching it in disbelief. So I understand the anger but violence begets violence. It’s not going to solve anything. I just did my best to keep people safe.”
According to Liddell, he’s been living in Huntington Beach for the past couple of weeks while repairs are being done to his house after a pipe burst in his kitchen.
After hearing about the protest turning violent nearby, the former 205-pound champion and a friend went down to see what was happening and that’s when Liddell decided he needed to get involved.
“I went down to see what was going on and try to keep the peace a little bit,” Liddell said. “Try to keep people level headed. I was able to talk some people down and I heard some crazy stuff from all sides. It was crazy.
“I understand the people were there to defend their city. They didn’t want their city destroyed over this. They didn’t want people coming in from out of town and ripping down the city. It was one of those wild situations where there were bullies that try to pick on the easy targets. Not necessarily the big burly guy that looks pretty tough. They tend to bully on the smaller guy. They tend to pick on people. I can’t watch that.”
Numerous celebrities have been involved in protests including actress Tessa Thompson, who documented the experience on her Instagram as well as Halsey, who took video of police firing rubber bullets into a crowd.
For Liddell, he just couldn’t stand by and see an unfortunate situation potentially turn deadly, especially in the wake of a tragedy that he believes should be bringing people together for a common cause.
“I made it down there to see what was going on and I couldn’t leave,” Liddell explained. “I needed to help out and try to help people on both sides. I wanted to help people with their businesses and the people who were there to speak their mind, I didn’t want to see them get hurt either.
“A lot of these businesses [being vandalized], they are on your side. They’re not hurting people that are hurting you.”
If there’s one message that Liddell wanted to pass along it’s that he completely understands why so many people are upset but escalating violence isn’t going to help anybody.
“I know people are angry,” Liddell said. “The hate doesn’t combat hate. You’ve got to love. Perpetuating more violence and more violence, it’s not a good thing.”