Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Chuck "Iceman" Liddell is pitted against former Pride standout Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 97 in Montreal. And as usual, Liddell is looking for the knockout.
"I've wanted this fight for a long time, since back in the Pride days, back in the UFC vs. Pride days," Liddell told MMAWeekly.com "I can't wait for this fight."
Liddell has deviated from his normal training camp, traveling to American Top Team and working with Olympic boxing gold medalist Howard Davis Jr., but Liddell hasn't left longtime trainer John Hackleman. In fact, it was Hackleman's idea to change things up following Liddell's UFC 88 loss to current champion Rashad Evans.
"It's good to get something fresh, something new in there, just get another mind out there with John (Hackleman)," said Liddell. "John's the one that suggested we going out there at American Top Team in the first place, and after we went out there he liked how Howard worked. He's the one that talked to them about coming out and having him for this camp."
Working with Davis Jr. on some finer points of the striking game including keeping himself in proper position when the the attack, Liddell plans on "mixing it up," but expects to knockout the Brazilian.
"I plan on mixing it up out there, but I plan on striking and I plan on knocking him out," stated the former champion.
Liddell has lost three of his last four fights and Rua hasn't looked nearly as dominant in his two UFC bouts as he did when he rose to the top of the 205-pound ranks while competing in the Japanese Pride organization, but Liddell feels this is the type of match up he needs to move himself closer to his ultimate goal of winning back the UFC light heavyweight belt.
"This is exactly what I need. I want fights that are going to get me closer to getting a title shot, and I think this is one of those fights," said the 39-year-old fighter. "I'm ready man. I've been training hard. It's been a long camp for this one, and I'm ready to go."
"It's a fight that people want to see," commented Liddell. "I'm expecting him to come out ready to go. I think this is going to be a great fight for the fans. We're going to be going at it until someone gets knocked out."