Tomorrow night, Thursday, June 7th, Chuck Liddell will become the first mixed martial artist to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman. For Chuck Liddell, it will also the first public appearance since his TKO defeat to Rampage Jackson in UFC 71. It will be the first time he will get the chance to talk about his defeat, but, given that this is David Letterman he'll be talking to, fans shouldn't expect a lot of in-depth discussion about the fight.
Liddell's knockout has been called a devastating loss for the UFC and MMA in general, but this is clearly not the case. The fact that Liddell will be going on Letterman, a place where very few athletes ever go, is simply a testament to how significantly MMA and the UFC has entered the cultural zeitgeist.
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Chuck Liddell is in an interesting place, in terms of his standing with fans. It's safe to say that, with all of the hype going into UFC 71, most of which centered around him, gained Liddell and UFC a large number of brand new fans. What are these new Liddell fans now supposed to think? Americans love the underdog and, given that lots of new fans' only exposure to Chuck is through his loss to Rampage, he'll likely be viewed in a hugely sympathetic light. The good thing about his defeat to Rampage is that there was no controversy about it. He lost fair and square, and he'll have to go about avenging it the old fashioned way.
It can be fun for a champion to remain champion, but after a long run, it gets boring. What is better is for a champion to get knocked off his pedestal and have to climb his way back up. The journey, the way back to glory, is something that fans respond to. That is now Chuck Lidell's plight, and is something he'll surely talk about on Letterman tomorrow night.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer