Former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and late TapouT founder, Charles "Mask" Lewis, were enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame during the UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday, July 10.
The new additions bring the Hall to a total of seven members. The induction ceremony took place at Friday’s fan expo at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Liddell’s induction kicked things off, where "The Iceman" honored his Octagon opponents when accepting the award.
"I wanted to thank all the other fighters, comrades, my guys who got in the ring with me, all the guys that fought me."
Liddell debuted in the Octagon more than a decade ago at UFC 17: "Redemption" and spun together a record of 20-3 (with two of those losses avenged) over the next nine years to become largely considered as the number one light heavyweight in the world and one of mixed martial arts’ biggest pay-per-view draws.
He first fought for the UFC’s interim light heavyweight title in June 2003, a TKO (strikes) loss to Randy Couture at UFC 43. After losing to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the semi-finals of the PRIDE FC 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix, Liddell returned to the UFC where he defeated former champion and training partner Tito Ortiz.
The win helped catapult him to another title shot — a rematch with Randy Couture, which Liddell won — and a streak that would see "The Iceman" win seven in a row from April 2004 – December 2006 over some of the sport’s biggest names.
After defending his title four consecutive times, Liddell was again matched up against "Rampage" Jackson — this one for the UFC world title — at UFC 71 in May 2007. Again "Rampage" had Liddell’s number, which proved to be the beginning of the end for the once feared counter-striker.
Liddell would go on to three of his next four fights, albeit all against the very best the division has to offer. His last two outings resulted in devastating KOs with Liddell on the losing end, prompting Dana White to announce the former champion’s retirement, despite having zero authority to do so.
Liddell’s camp and the UFC president traded barbs, but in the end Liddell announced that he was taking a break from the sport to allow his brain to heal.
Also inducted was the late Charles Lewis, co-founder of TapouT, the larger-than-life MMA apparel brand. Lewis was the victim of a tragic car accident earlier this year.
An emotional Liddell, who was a friend of Lewis, left midway during the induction.
Lewis (aka "Mask") launched the company — which helps promote fighters — in 1997 and literally sold t-shirts and merchandise out of the back of his car in the early years of the company. But with co-founder Dan "Punkass" Caldwell and Timothy "Skyskrape" Katz, Lewis was able to build the brand into the $100-million empire it is today.
"He just always knew, always believed that this was what was going to happen and he never stopped believing," said Caldwell. "I learned a lot from him and I continue to learn a lot from him. And it’s awesome how he’s still touching lives even after his passing."
Among TapouT’s assets is a reality TV show that follows the crew as they travel around in support of younger, up-and-coming fighters, its massive clothing line and a line of bottled water, among other things.
It’s safe to say there has never been anyone quite like "Mask" in the history of mixed martial arts. He certainly had a profound impact on the role of fighter sponsorships and brand marketing within the sport.
Liddell and Lewis join Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture and Mark Coleman as fellow UFC Hall of Fame members.