Former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and late TapouT founder, Charles "Mask" Lewis, will be enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame during the fan expo at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday, July 10.
UFC President Dana White just broke the news in his latest Twitter update:
"Hey guys chuck liddell and charles "mask" lewis will be inducted into the ufc hall of fame at the ufc fan expo this friday at 630 p.m."
Liddell made his Octagon debut more than a decade ago, earning a decision victory over Noe Hernandez at UFC 17: "Redemption" back in 1998. During the next seven years, which included a quick trip overseas to try his hand in the Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix in 2003, Liddell would rise to the top of the 205-pound food chain.
His trademark Mohawk, head tattoo and vicious knockouts catapulted him to rock star status inside the cage and outside of it seemingly overnight. And when he defeated Randy Couture at UFC 52: "Couture vs. Liddell 2" in April 2005, "The Iceman" became the face of the promotion, appealing to fans worldwide and helping elevate the sport into a whole new stratosphere.
The San Luis Obispo, Calif., native would defend his title four times over the next two years before running into Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 71: "Liddell vs. Jackson" in May 2007. Rampage -- who bounced Liddell out of the Pride FC tournament four years earlier -- scored a convincing first round technical knockout over Liddell.
It was widely believed at the time that Rampage simply had his number; however, Liddell would go onto lose three of his next four fights. His two most recent losses to Rashad Evans and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua were downright decisive, prompting White to prematurely announce that Liddell -- his long-time friend -- would retire from the sport.
Liddell recently countered that statement, claiming he would sit out until at least April 2010 to heal his brain and give him enough time to make a decision about his future. If he does decide to continue he would join Couture and Mark Coleman as active UFC Hall of Famers.
Also included in the ceremony will be a posthumous induction of Charles Lewis, who was killed in a tragic car accident in the early morning hours on March 11 of this year.
Known simply as "Mask" to his friends and fans in the mixed martial arts community, Lewis helped launch TapouT way back in 1997, with nothing more than a vision and a handful of merchandise — and enough gas in his van to follow fighters across the state of California to promote and sell his MMA-inspired brand of clothing.
Now his empire, along with Dan "Punkass" Caldwell and Timothy "Skyskrape" Katz, includes a reality TV show, a line of bottled water, an impressive stable of mixed martial arts fighters and of course its massive clothing line, which went from a few thousand dollars in sales back in the late 90’s to over $100 million in 2008.
His significance in the growth of mixed martial arts through brand awareness and fighter sponsorships cannot be overstated.
Liddell and Lewis will join five other distinguished members in the UFC Hall of Fame, including Couture, Coleman, Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie.