Chuck Liddell on what's wrong with MMA: 'My biggest problem is guys playing it safe'

Chuck Liddell says that fighters playing it safe is the big problem in MMA, Bloody Elbow examines the number of big fights that have gone to decision to see how often fighters actually do coast to wins.

Chuck Liddell isn't the biggest fan of the way UFC fighters have evolved over the past several years. He's talked about it a few times, but spoke about it again with Inside MMA.

As transcribed by MMA Fighting:

"I'm probably not going to be popular with the fighters with this one, but my biggest problem is guys playing it safe," Liddell recently told AXS TV's Inside MMA. "I understand it from a coach's standpoint and a manager's standpoint. I understand why you'd want to play it safe and want to win the fight, win every fight. I get it. But do I want to watch a guy go beat a guy for four rounds and then ride him the fifth round not doing anything?

"You want to be worth more? Go out and fight. Have fun. Knock people out. Submit them. Beat them. I don't care. Just go try to finish a fight."


"That's one of the reasons I retired," Liddell said in closing. "To stick around, the way I was fighting, I would have to start playing it safe. I went out on my shield. That's the way I liked it. I fought that way my whole career. I don't want to bore people my last three or four fights."

Chuck did aim the comments at Georges St. Pierre.

Chuck talks about "riding" in the fifth round, something reserved for title fights and main events only. That's probably also a fair assumption being that undercard fighters going to decision likely wouldn't qualify for most as their biggest problem in the sport.

In title fights over the past two years, here are the ones that have gone to decision:

Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz
Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans
Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber
Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar II
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez
Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit
Ben Henderson vs. Nate Diaz
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz
Ben Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez

In 2013 there has not been a non-title 5 round fight that went to decision.

In 2012 there were only three non-title 5 round fights that went to decision:

Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida
Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva

So, there have been sixteen five round bouts in the UFC that went to decision over the past nineteen months. Of those, the ones that stand out to me as possibly considering "coasting," even if I personally disagree with some of them would be the two GSP fights, Evans against Davis and Maynard against Guida.

Given that GSP doesn't ever draw less than 700,000 buys and is the only guy still in the UFC who can reliably draw numbers like that more or less regardless of opponent, it's kind of difficult to pin him as a "problem" with the UFC, even if you personally find his fights aesthetically displeasing.

Evans vs. Davis got to be a bit boring by the end and was probably not the way you'd want a Fox main event to play out, but did it really do damage long term?

The same question could be asked of Maynard vs. Guida, which was an awful, awful fight.

While Chuck's career was incredible in his ability to finish consistently at the highest level, it's probably a bit unfair to think that others can recapture that level of magic. And he seems clearly wrong about guys cruising through five round fights.

So, I'll turn it over to the Bloody Elbow community to discuss in the comments. Is Chuck right? If not, what is the biggest problem in the UFC?

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