As a dancer from way back, I was really looking forward to seeing what Chuck Liddell, mixed martial artist and former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion extraordinaire, would do on the ABC reality show Dancing with the Stars.
He didn’t disappoint. That’s not to say he did a great job, but he didn’t disappoint because in spite of his beautiful and talented dance partner, Anna Trebunskaya, Chuck danced the way I expected he would: he was awkward, stiff, nervous, was not on point, and told us visually when he forgot something with his numerous face fouls.
But then, isn’t that what this show is all about? Take someone out of their regular, every day environment, put them outside the realm of their comfort zone – and make them…dance?
I think for Chuck to show up at all and make the attempt he did, and on public television given his fighter persona, was pretty brave – and my hat’s off to him. Did you notice he even finished ahead of former NFL wide receiver Michael Irvin?
It was obvious Chuck was nervous, but in retrospect, it really made him appear human, in my eyes. Not just the tough fighter, but now sensitive and bashful. Chuck has 6 weeks to work on his steps and skills, and after his performance last night, I actually expect he’ll be pretty good by the end. According to Dancing with the Stars, Chuck has said, “I want to show there’s a softer side of me.” Add to that a sense of humor and watch out ladies!
You have to ask yourself though – what was his motivation for accepting this job? My thought is that hopefully his appearance and demeanor will cause people look a little bit more into MMA, and realize that fighters are not the crazed, blood thirsty maniacs Bob Reilly claims. It was nice to see Dana White in the audience supporting Chuck. Maybe a bit of this “stunt” has some public relations attached to it. Just a little…
By the way – kudos to Chuck for barely batting an eye at Bruno Tonioli, one of the judges, when he described Chuck as “the gentle Neanderthal.” Ouch. Note to Bruno: Chuck went to college. In fact he holds a BA in Business/Accounting from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Additionally, he penned his autobiography, Iceman: My Fighting Life, a New York Times Bestseller. Yeah – not exactly the neanderthal you thought, is he?
Listen – for all of you making fun of him, I challenge you to step into the ring with some professional MMA fighters and see how you do and how you look. Better yet, take a dance lesson and post it on youtube for everyone to see. Dance in those shoes for a bit before you start swinging at Chuck Liddell.
Besides – to me there’s nothing better than a man in a suit who can dance and take the lead, and it looks like Chuck just might get there. Just one thing – Chuck: grow the hair out. Save your Mohawk for the ring. Please. We just want to see you with hair for once. After the show, you can shave it again!