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“Pit Boss” John Hackleman Speaks About Liddell’s Loss
Written by Percy Crawford of Fight   
Wednesday, 06 June 2007
John Hackleman discusses Chuck Liddell’s disappointing loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who they want to fight next and when. Plus, you don’t want to miss what he had to say regarding the rumors of Liddell’s partying too much as well as why he doesn’t like the way Jackson is handling the win.
PC: How are you doing John?

JH: Good. Chuck’s right here training. He’s back. We cut down the break in between fights. We have to get back a little quicker and get back into it slowly.

PC: Looking back at the Rampage fight, was there something he could’ve done differently or do you think he just got caught?

JH: No. Nah, he got caught. He could’ve done things different, but it happened. He saw an opening and he took it and Chuck got caught. It happens to everyone obviously. If no one ever capitalized on mistakes, no one would ever lose. He got caught. He made a mistake and that was it. He made a mistake, but then he didn’t make a mistake at the same time. He went for an opening and just like in any fight, it’s about timing and that’s what happened; couldn’t have done anything any different.

PC:  I know this was a disappointing loss for you guys. When Chuck went down, did you think he would recover or did you know it was over?

JH: I knew it. As soon as I saw him get hit, I knew it was over. I think John did a great job.

PC: It’s been so long since Chuck has lost a fight. How is he dealing with the loss mentally?

JH: I’m not in his mind, but he’s right here training already. We talked after the fight and we’ve gone to breakfast a couple of times and talked about some things in the future. It’s like he said after the fight, he saw an opening and went for it and he paid the price.

PC: Have you guys heard anything from the UFC about when they would like Chuck to fight again?

JH: No. ASAP! As soon as possible for us.

PC: The Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva fight makes a lot of sense now. Is that a fight you guys want to entertain?

JH: Yeah. Yeah, that’s what we’re looking for.

PC: People had started to throw Keith Jardin’s name out there and he is now coming off of a knockout loss at UFC 71 as well. Would you entertain that fight?

JH: Why not. Anyone! It doesn’t matter right now.

PC: With all the attention that the UFC and Chuck was getting from ESPN and other media outlets leading up to that fight, were you nervous about that coming into this fight?

JH: I don’t really like it, but it comes with the territory and the UFC likes it. You know as a trainer, I don’t like it, but the promotions always like it. It’s coming from a lot of different places. It’s good overall, but if you remember Rocky 3, I’m the Mickey. I’m more like Mickey, “Ah just get in there and fucking train.” They want him to do all of the press stuff, but hey, it comes with the territory. He handled it well. I didn’t like it, but it didn’t make a big difference in the fight.

PC: There’s some reports out there that Chuck parties too much. Do you think that’s a problem or is that people digging for something?

JH: Hopefully he’s not. I don’t want it to happen. We’re going to change it a little bit right now. He’s a night owl anyway. Whether he is hanging out somewhere with his friends or sitting in his room all night until 4 in the morning, he would still be up. He sits with his friend’s drinking water. I don’t think that’s partying, but I don’t like it. He just sits wherever and drinks water. He doesn’t drink during camp or anything.

PC: It’s no shame in losing to Rampage, but do you think stylistically he’s just all wrong for Chuck?

JH: I don’t like him. He could be. I’m not crazy about him, but it could’ve gone the other way real easily. I think overall, Chuck’s better, but it’s like Norton was for Ali. He’s a good fighter, but I’m not crazy about the way he’s handling this fight. I don’t like the way he’s handling this win at all. He’s a really nice, respectful and decent guy, but I think he’s got people in his ear and he’s acting a little foolish I think. He’s not a foolish guy at all. He’s a great guy, a respectful guy and he’s funny as hell, but when you start getting success, you get all of these clowns in your ear.

PC: Chuck’s going on the David Letterman show this week. How important was it for him not to hide his face and get right back out there?

JH: Ugh, for him or the...

PC: Well, is it important for Chuck or is the UFC telling him to get his face back out there?

JH: I don’t think they’re telling him much right now. He’s handling it pretty good. He’s not going to go into seclusion or anything. MMA is a hell of a lot different from boxing. In boxing, you can have an undefeated record, but it normally doesn’t mean you’re the best. It means you had the best manager and you were set up with the best matches. You take a great fighter like Sugar Ray Leonard, win the Olympic gold medal, but then his first 20 fights as a pro, they give him tomato cans. Then he’ll fight a tough fight and then they’ll give him another 4 or 5 tune-ups they call them. Sugar Ray Leonard could’ve fought and beat 90% of the guys out there in the top10, but boxing don’t do that. The UFC don’t do that and they don’t play that, so every fight is a tough fight. K-1 and the UFC, they’re like that so you’re never going to have an undefeated fighter. When Chuck lost to Randy the first time, Randy had lost 50% of his fights. Randy was like 8-4. It’s no shame in losing. In boxing, he would’ve got a standing 8 count when he was dropped. He was fine the second he came up. I wasn’t going to let him be interviewed. I usually don’t let my guys get interviewed after they’ve been stopped because they say dingy things, but I asked him where he was at and what he was doing and he said, “John, I’m fine. I know exactly what happened. I got caught with this.” He was good like right after he got up. This isn’t boxing though, so they stop it a lot earlier, which they should because you could still punch them when they’re on the ground. It’s a whole different fight; different sport. I was happy with the way it went down. Yeah, but Chuck has already worked out. Usually he takes about 2 months off between fights and he’s partying the whole time. I mean party; yeah, he parties. Maybe not party, but he goes out. There’s a difference, I guess.

PC: That’s what he wants you to believe at least huh?

JH: I don’t like my guys going out, but he’s been going out and winning most of the time. He was in good shape, but he got caught.

PC: Thanks for your time John. Anything you want to say in closing?
JH: Chuck will be back!
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