December 17, 1969
Santa Barbara, California, United States
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As a former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder and mixed martial arts master, Chuck Liddell was often credited with helping to transform his obscure, violent sport into mainstream entertainment. Born on Dec. 17, 1969 in Santa Barbara, CA, Liddell began training in Koei-Kan karate when he was 12 years old. He was a four-year starter for the football team the Knights at San Marcos High School, and became a Division I wrestler at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. After graduating Cal Poly with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business, he embarked upon his mixed martial arts career, earning a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu while training under John Lewis in Las Vegas. Liddell entered the UFC in 1998 with decisive victories over skilled opponents. As he rose up the ranks, he earned a reputation as a devastating striker who possessed excellent defensive skills, knockout ability and an unorthodox fighting style. In short order, he earned the nickname "The Iceman" while pounding his way to a light heavyweight championship in 2005.For two years, Liddell held onto the light heavyweight championship until finally surrendering the belt to old nemesis, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in 2007. Over his next five fights, he won only once, leading to an almost definite retirement following an April 2009 defeat to Mauricio Rua. But during his reign as champion, Liddell helped usher in an era of mainstream popularity for mixed martial arts. His own celebrity led to branching out into other forms of entertainment, including appearances in movies and on television. In the feature world, he made cameos in "How High" (2001) and "Cradle 2 the Grave" (2003), while on the small screen he had a memorable guest turn on an episode of "Entourage" (HBO, 2004-11), in which he appeared as himself in a "Punk'd"-style prank to get Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) into the ring with him. After an episode of "Blade: The Series" (Spike TV, 2006) and voicing himself on "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ), Liddell was a surprise inclusion for the season nine cast of "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ).