Published by: Dutton Adult
Release Date: 01/29/2008
What’s it like to have no fear, to make people cower in their shoes, to know the sweet satisfaction of knocking a guy out with a single, devastating punch? Liddell knows. He’s the face of Ultimate Fighting Championship, the leader in mixed martial arts and the fastest growing sport in America. In 1998 he won his first MMA fight. Not long after, the UFC came calling, and he eventually fought his way to become the #1 ranked light-heavyweight contender in the world. Not bad for a bartender with a college degree in accounting.
Liddell was raised by a single mother and inspired by his grandfather, a first-generation Irish American from Mafia-run Brooklyn. He learned how to fight at a very young age. Now he’s 6’2″, 220 pounds, and a trained lethal weapon, but also fiercely loyal, maybe even a bit sensitive, and unexpectedly romantic. In raw detail, and with total honesty, he tells the story of his fighting life—both inside and outside the Octagon—including his childhood in the poor section of Santa Barbara, gritty insider accounts of his major fights, stories behind his trademark Mohawk and nickname, his ongoing rivalry with Tito Ortiz and deep-rooted friendship with Dana White, and how he balances life as a father, a UFC champ, and a superstar—or tries to, anyway. With never-before-seen photos, Iceman is the true, no-holds-barred story of Chuck fighting his way to become a champion.
Right before Chuck’s title defense against Rampage Jackson in late May, 2007, it felt like the UFC was peaking. Chuck had just been on Entourage and appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine, where I’m an editor. He was in commercials, doing photo shoots for GQ, crossing over from cult hero to the guy celebrities want to get close to. All of it was building towards this fight, the most hyped in UFC history.
Given the buzz surrounding the sport, I was pumped to be a part of the project. On the night of the fight I sat down on my couch, ordered the cage-match on PPV and settled in. Then I watched Chuck get KO’d on one punch a minute into the first round. My wife looked at me and said, “Wow, he’s not very good, is he?”
I didn’t really know. But, a week later, when he and I met for the first time in Manhattan, after he did a taping of Letterman, I learned this: The loss hadn’t diminished his star power. Waiting in the lobby of the Peninsula hotel, I watched fans block Chuck as he tried to walk in. Then me, Chuck and his girlfriend, Erin, decided to stroll a few blocks down Fifth Avenue to Saks so Erin could shop. Every few feet, people took Chuck’s picture with their cell phones. We passed the Cartier store, which was having an event, and the paparazzi working the red carpet turned around to shoot Chuck. In Saks, as he and I sat on a recliners talking about our kids while Erin looked at couture dresses, sales people and other bored boyfriends gave him I-know-your-famous nods and smiles. On the way back to the hotel, a hot dog vendor asked Chuck to sign a napkin. Chuck couldn’t have been cooler or more comfortable with his fame.
When I jumped in a cab that night I called my wife. “I have no idea if he’s any good,” I told her. “But people freaking love the guy. This is going to be a fun book to work on.” It was. And, oh yeah, I learned this too: He’s actually not too bad of a fighter.