This Guy’s Life: Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell

The UFC legend took a break from bending opponents’ limbs to give us a glimpse into the life of a professional fighter.

Just a few weeks removed from his impressive win over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79, and on the verge of the release of his book, Iceman: My Fighting Life, Chuck called us up for a little journalistic grappling.

You train every day for months before a fight, but what is the day before like?
I have to make weight that day, so I usually run and do some shadowboxing wearing the plastics [plastic tracksuits that trap in heat and help rapid weight loss. Check out just about any episodes of Spike’s reality show The Ultimate Fighter to see them in action]. I usually have to drop about seven or eight pounds.

That sounds like a lot to lose in one day.
It usually takes me about 45 minutes, sometimes an hour. My body gives up the first six pretty easy, but it will hang on to the last one or two. Some of the other guys try to cut 20 pounds in two days, but that sucks the strength right out of you.

Have you ever cut that much?
I used to do that in college—15 pounds in 36 hours. I would be running in plastics almost every day. Now I have my diet right, though, so I don’t have to do that anymore.

Speaking of diet, how much do you eat during training?
I have a person that prepares all of my food for me. They’re all made for me, I just warm them up and eat them. It’s about five or six meals a day. It takes a lot of calories to recover when you’re at the gym twice a day. I have to switch it up on the day of the fight, though, since the actual fight happens so late at night.

What is the rest of fight day like?
After eating and hanging out with a few really close friends, I usually do my warm-ups in the hotel hallway so I don’t have to see too many people before the fight. Before the last fight, I was actually part of a guided meditation. It really helped me to visualize everything. It reminded me what I was doing there and that I just needed to go out there and have fun.

So even after all the fights you’ve been in, you still have fun in the ring?
I’ve been doing martial arts since I was 12, and I put a lot of work into my training. But when I’m out there I’m having fun. That’s why I do it, to compete. I’m going to keep doing it as long as my body will let me.

What happens when the fight is over?
You have to go in the back and wait for the press conference to start. It was really nice when they didn’t make us do that for a while. But after I answer the questions, I head back to the hotel to eat and head out to the after party with my close friends. Usually we stay out until 4 or 5.

Wow, that’s a lot of partying to do after a three-round slugfest.
The energy from the fight keeps going for sure. Once we get back to the hotel room, it’s usually time for room service. It’s nice to eat all the desserts and stuff that I wasn’t allowed to have during my training.

When does the energy wear off and all the aches and pains start kicking in?
It normally starts the day after the fight, kind of like when you work out and then are really sore the next day.

Is there one thing that happens during a fight that you’ll know you’ll feel the next day?
If you’re fighting a kickboxer and he’s throwing hard kicks, it can hurt to walk up and down the stairs for two weeks after the fight. They have to really be throwing them, though, and following through. If they’re just slapping them, you probably won’t even feel it the next day.

What’s in store for the days when you’re done getting your legs kicked and you stop fighting?
I’ll take over the fight team and coach the guys. I still want to be around fighting.

What kind of coach can your students expect you to be?
I’m laid-back, so I think I can be buddies with the guys. But I will definitely get on a guy if he isn’t doing what I tell him to.

Well, we’re more than happy to take your instruction. Just please don’t break our arms, OK?
Pick up Chuck’s book, Iceman: My Fighting Life, on January 29!