UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture were in New York for WSOFNYC and took some time to answer questions and share stories with fans and media.
Liddell is one of the most iconic fighters to ever lace up a pair of MMA gloves. His signature Mohawk and “sprawl and brawl” style endeared him to fans around the globe. His trilogy with Couture is one of the most memorable in the history of the sport.
Couture was the first man to win UFC belts in two different weight classes when he defeated Tito Ortiz in 2003 to claim the light heavyweight title. He also had a pair of heavyweight championship reigns during his outstanding career.
Subject: Craziest street fight
Randy: “I was never a big street fighter, I never got into a lot of fights. I think all through school in 1995, we were in Buckhead, outside of Atlanta and there were a lot of bars there. Dan Henderson and I had just made the world team for Greco-Roman wrestling and they were putting on the freestyle world championships, which is the precursor to the ’96 Olympics. So we’re celebrating, we just made the world team and we are out in Buckhead and had a few cocktails, which is usually how these things start – ‘Oh here hold my beer! Watch this!’ And we were trying to start any trouble, but I put my hand on a car to tie my shoe and next thing I know four guys come out of the club and saying ‘Hey! Leave that car alone’. And I’m like ‘Sorry I wasn’t doing anything to the car’.
“And then one of the guys had a bat and I couldn’t figure out what he needed a bat for but I ended up snatching the bat from him and chasing him back into the club. I never caught him. But when I came back out Henderson had one of the other guys on the ground, his shirt was gone and I was like ‘What the hell!?’. We ended up walking away though and no one got hurt. That was probably one of the craziest things.
“But I was on the board of directors for USA Wrestling at the time as an athlete’s rep and in our big board meeting in conjunction with everything going on there, that evening we went out. We ended up in this club still licking my wounds from the night before and all of a sudden I have two police officers and a security guard in my face saying ‘You’re out of here!’ And I’m like ‘Dude I didn’t do anything’ and they said ‘Well you were in here last night with a baseball bat!’. And I was like ‘Oh shit, this is the same place!’. I didn’t realize I was in the same club as the night before. That’s how bad it was!”
Chuck: “For me, I’ve got a lot to choose from. I fought a lot growing up. I was a bouncer for a while too. Some younger stories that are more fun… I was probably 21. I was out fighting out here every weekend pretty much. Now don’t get me wrong, I always say I never start a fight, but I also don’t let guys out of them either.
“Anyway, I was walking and talking to this girl in the middle of the street and these four dudes walk up and they started giving me a hard time. Where I was walking my brothers were down the street. But I said ‘Look man, I don’t want any trouble with you guys, we’re just sitting there talking’. They said ‘Alright, alright then walk on’. And I said ‘Well I’m not leaving or going anywhere.” So anyways, my brother walked up and one of my brothers is a lot crazier than me. I was also with my little brother and he’s 6’4, 300 pounds.
“So they both walk up and this guys talking a bunch of trash to me. And one of the guys says something to my brother, he says ‘What?’ and the guy says ‘f*** you’ to my brother. So my brother hits him and drops him and my brother is kneeing him against his car. So the guy next to him turns to hit my brother and I’m just like ‘give me his chin’ and wham I drop him. I took one of the guys to the car and I kneed him into the fence. And I look back and like I said my brother is a little crazy and he’s still kneeing him to the ground. When I look back one of the other guys is going to kick my brother and I think ‘how am I going to get there in time?’ and I decide to jump onto the car and flew off and did a flying sidekick in the street. The guy did a 180 and fell down and that was about it for the fight.
“Anyway, I went to school the next week and my buddy said ‘You didn’t happen to be in Vista last weekend, were you?’ and I said ‘yeah” and he said ‘you didn’t happen to jump off a car and kick someone, did you?’. That was one of my interesting stories, I never though I’d used a flying side kick on someone in the street.”
Subject: Transition Into MMA
Randy: “I was a wrestler and Chuck was also a wrestler, But I think he had a little more of a kickboxing background. I didn’t have any of that background coming out transitioning into MMA.”
Chuck: “I think the advantage I had in the beginning, most people came out with one discipline and had to add two. I came out with two and add one, which was the submission side of it, which I knew a little bit of. I had some kickboxing. I went from college wrestling to kickboxing and then MMA. So I did a bunch of years of kickboxing, I had 22 kickboxing fights before I started doing MMA. I had that extra edge in transition.
Randy: “The only other person to punch me in the face was my sister… I had to make friends with getting hit, it was that simple. I mean there’s a lot of head contact and contact in wrestling, I did a lot of Greco-Roman wrestling than a lot of guys around. It’s a much more upright posture, which is more kin to fighting. So certainly with the in fighting and clinch fighting I had an advantage because I spent years and year at a high level wrestling. I had never really been punched in the face.”
Chuck: “I used to coach a lot of wrestlers coming into this sport and I think the biggest thing for wrestlers is [getting punched in the face]. I used to say to wrestlers no one likes to get hit, but what I mean is it can’t be to the point where it’s a detriment to your fighting. If you’re afraid of getting hit and [you’re backing away], I’m licking my chops it’s so easy to get hit.”
Randy: “It’s counter intuitive like a lot of things in fighting. You get hit and you’re like ‘woah’ and that’s going to get you hit more. Through training you learn to keep your eyes open and your nose in the fight and stay in there. There’s a lot of guys like Forrest Griffin who didn’t even seem like they were fighting until they got hit. And that flipped their switch, and until they saw their own blood they were like ‘oh okay now its time to go’. I think there’s something about being a fighter where it’s in you. You talk about Lesnar, Lesnar was one of those guys that never made friends with being hit and when he fought Cain Velasquez and other match ups he had, the guy would crack him but he would be like ‘woah!’.”
Chuck: “He is a very tough individual though. And very mentally tough. I mean coming back from Carwin and surviving that… he still never got used to getting hit.”
Randy: “One of my early coaches, I worked with Eric Paulson a lot in my early fight career. And he stuffed me in a corner in the gym where I had nowhere to go and he just started throwing punches at me, it was a corner drill that’s what he called it… just to try and get my face in the fight, not close my eyes and use my elbows and hands and head to slip and get used to seeing those things come at your face, it’s a big part of it.”