Most of the time these are harmless brain teasers enjoyed by fans of the "sweet science" of fighting. But there are occasions where the rhetoric can become reality.
One such possibility? An eventual match between Andrei "The Pit Bull" Arlovski and Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
I know--Liddell is the Light Heavyweight Champ, the question goes, so why would he fight as a heavyweight? And specifically, why fight Arlovski?
First, such a well-known change in weight class has occurred before. In 1988 Evander Holyfield made history by becoming the first, and to this date only, universally recognized world cruiserweight champion. But the lack of cruiserweight competition became a bore to Evander. He moved up to the heavyweight division, in part to have a shot at taking on Tyson. Of course, we all know how that fight ended.
Liddell is experiencing a similar problem in the UFC. Arlovski would certainly be a new challenge, and would pit him against someone of equal talent whose name, for once, is not Randy Couture.
Of course, there is 'the problem' when moving up in weight: A great fighter in one weight class may be a mediocre fighter in another. Holyfield did it successfully, even becoming Heavyweight Champ; but many other champion fighters have simply not been as great in a different weight class.
MMAFighting.com attempts to explain this away by stating:
"Of course Chuck Liddell would have to move up in weight to make this fight happen, but that shouldn't be a problem since he most likely walks around above 205 lbs. anyways."
MMAFighting.com is a fine site and certainly entitled to its opinion; but the question is not what is the state of Liddell's weight and ability when he's not training for a match, but what is his most natural weight when he's trained at peak ability and--if I may say--ready to kick some ass? Anything else is beside the point.
In fact, to be really fair the lack of serious competitors for Arlovski is also becoming apparent. There is currently a dearth of legitimate contenders for either championship belt. There are some true UFC prospects; but prospects are not ready to combat the best fighters in the world for a championship belt. Little excitement is created when champions like Andrei Arlovski or Chuck Liddell are matched against people who may or may not have a chance to win, who may or may not be the top level of talent, who may or may not be truly tested fighters.
And because of various contractual issues, Pride fighters are not currently allowed to fight in the UFC. This makes sense from a business standpoint, but it cuts the pool of competitors for each division championship belt. This becomes an obvious problem when Arlovski and Liddell are dominating their UFC weight classes.
Another reason for such a match? Ratings. In the past year or so the UFC has grown in exposure, and has earned a greater acceptance as a legitimate competitive sport. One of the things which always promotes further interest in any fight game is pitting one 'name' against another. The UFC is no different--you need only look at the interest generated in the sport when Tito Ortiz fought Ken Shamrock, for instance.
Two top names fighting for a championship always brings in extra interest and extra revenue. For a sport just coming into its own like the UFC, such matches are necessarily of special interest. As MMAFighting.com points out, "Championship fights are all about creating excitement. The buzz, the anticipation, and the fighters themselves all make championship fights special events."
And last, America simply has a special love for the heavyweight champ in any fight game. Even people who aren't fight fans often know the names of boxing's heavyweight champs; but you'd be hard-pressed to find many who can give you the name of a boxing division's light heavyweight champ, past or present.
So we've made our case. What are the chances of each fighter in winning this dream match?
Andrei Arlovski of course isn't called the "Pit Bull" for nothing. The 6'4", 240-pound fighter has a lethal combination of fine grappling ability and massive striking power. He likes to hunt, and waits for the moment to create his lethal assault.
If Arlovski's the hunter, Chuck Liddell is the roaring lion, with a deep looping punch which appears out of nowhere, and his amazing all-round abilities in the toughest matches.
Conclusion? The event would be a heart-stopper, period.
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