At UFC 71 on May 26, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will look to do what no other man has done before — defeat UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell twice.
In 2005, Randy Couture and Jeremy Horn both tried to replicate their previous successes against the "Iceman." It didn't happen — Horn got beat blind (literally) and Couture got knocked out cold.
Of course, Rampage took it to Liddell in 2003 at PRIDE: "Final Conflict," out-striking the most feared striker in the UFC en route to a corner stoppage in round two.
In short, Rampage was able to "break the Ice" in startling fashion — it was a rather lopsided bout.
Liddell claims to have not been right for that fight. He was unable to train the way he needed to win the match, which is the reason for his shoddy performance.
Whatever ... it means very little when it comes to the rematch because it was more than three years ago and a lot has changed during that span.
Since that time, Liddell has rattled of seven consecutive wins — all of them by T(KO) — captured the UFC 205-pound crown and defended it four times.
Now, he's set to slay the final demon in his loss column and cement his legacy as one of the most dominant — perhaps the most dominant — light heavyweights in the short history of the sport.
It's going to be a difficult assignment because Rampage has proven he can eat punches well (knees ... not so much). And Liddell at this point in his career really does nothing more than punch, punch and punch some more.
He's a one-dimensional fighter in that aspect and he makes no excuses for it — stuff the takedown and knock dudes out.
That's his formula for success.
But what happens when he finally meets his match and goes up against an opponent who can handle his punching power? What happens when the bread and butter approach to fighting just ain't cuttin' it? Does Chuck Liddell have a Plan B?
More than anything, the winner of this fight is going to be the one with superior conditioning. And that's the true wild card in this bout and what makes it so interesting.
Liddell lives the movie star life — making public appearances, showing up in cable television programs, hitting local night clubs and hot spots while not in training, etc. He basically makes the most out of all that he has earned inside the Octagon.
And who can blame him?
With all things he's got going on around him, many wonder how that affects the intensity of his pre-fight workouts. For example, heading into the third round against Tito Ortiz at UFC 66 — a bout in which Liddell and his trainer John Hackleman described Liddell as being in great shape — the champ was visibly tired less than 15 minutes in.
Sure, he spent a lot of energy throwing punches, but Ortiz had little or nothing in response.
Make no mistake, Rampage will fight back and does hit harder than Ortiz. Therefore, what happens when a tired and defensive Liddell enters round four?
The short answer: anything is possible -- look no further than his first encounter with Couture for further evidence.
On the flip side, Jackson has admitted on numerous occassions, including very recently, that he does not like to train. It's simply not something he likes to do.
And how many other top fighters out there actually smoke ... remember that bit with Joe Rogan on "Inside the UFC" not too long ago?
In a recent article in the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Rampage attempts to put this kind of speculation to rest.
Here's a snip:
"(My trainer) Juanito (Ibarra) is the best thing to ever happen to my fighting career. He is not just out for a paycheck. He isn't out trying to promote his gym, or his fighting style. He genuinely cares for me, and he is like a father figure for me, and I really appreciate that. This is the best shape I have been in my life, and I am going to give Juanito 159.33 percent of what I got for this fight.... Yeah, I said 159.33 percent."
If that does indeed turn out to be the case and Rampage is in shape to go 25 minutes, give 159.33 percent, and take it to Liddell like he did in 2003, then this fight has all the ingredients to become an epic war.
I can barely catch my breath just thinking about it.