(The following post also appeared on MMARated.com)
As a long-time boxing enthusiast, I’m well aware of the ugly side of the sport. Mainly what happens to the guys who stick around a little too long. Brain damage, impaired speech…that kind of thing.
One of the worst examples of this is what has become of former Olympic Gold Medalist and welterweight champion, Meldrick Taylor. Take a look at the following clip courtesy of HBO Sports’ “Legendary Nights” series (fast forward to 4:42 of the clip):
Since MMA is fairly new to the sports scene (especially compared to boxing) we have yet to witness such effects on the sports’ top stars. However, that might be changing sooner rather than later.
I recently came across a startling interview featuring Chuck Liddell on “Last Call with Carson Daly” from 2004. Listen closely to how he sounds:
So, what’s so special about that? He sounds normal, right? Right. Now, take a listen to this recent interview with the UK’s “Daily Telegraph”:
If you ask me, that’s pretty startling stuff. I have always enjoyed Liddell’s work inside the cage as well as how he represents the sport outside of it. He is a true legend and, more importantly, a gentleman. For that reason, the continuous evolution of the Iceman greatly scares me.
(Update: I added this little nugget in the comments section: Obviously I am not comparing the Liddell we saw in that infamous Dallas morning show clip to the normal Liddell. That was a completely different person. And I am sure partying has played a role in this problem too. I’m just not sure how much. Of course there are less strikes to the head in boxing but, still, Liddell started his pro career in 1998. That’s ten years of punishment. It may not be twelve rounds of punishment for ten years but still significant.)