Chuck Liddell thinks Jon Jones is an excellent talent and great UFC light heavyweight champion. But the UFC Hall of Famer believes in his prime, he would have upended the young phenom.
Liddell loves Jones’ overall game, but is not at all impressed with his punching power. He thinks if the two would have fought in his prime, he would have knocked Jones out.
"I think I would have been a horrible matchup for him," Liddell told FOX Sports. "I would have walked through his punches and he wouldn’t have caught me with anything."
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UFC president Dana White has called Jones the greatest light heavyweight champion of all time. Liddell and Tito Ortiz would also have to be in that conversation. Jones, at age 26, has defended the belt an unprecedented six times. He’s also 19-1 with his only loss coming by disqualification against Matt Hamill in 2009. Jones will be challenged by Liddell’s sometimes training partner Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 on Saturday in Baltimore.
Liddell, who retired in 2010 and now holds an executive job with the UFC, said he developed big-time knockout power in his hands when he was around the same age as Jones, once he started working with coach John Hackleman. Liddell said he can see Jones has serious power in his elbows, but it has not yet translated into his pure boxing just yet.
"I think it’s too early to tell," Liddell said. "If he finds his punching power — a good straight [cross], a good hook — then we’ll see. I mean, not only score with it, but hurt somebody. Then we’re talking."
Liddell, 44, had 13 knockouts in 21 career wins. In his prime, "The Iceman" was nearly impossible to take down and had one of the most legendary chins in the game. For those reasons, Liddell believes he would have given Jones a tough time.
Ever the competitor, Liddell doesn’t even really like talking about it, because it’ll never happen outside of the new EA Sports UFC video game. But of course he believes he would win.
"I would have found a way to hit him," Liddell said, "and I hit too hard."