Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell are probably the two most iconic mixed martial artists of all time. The fights the two put on are also among the greatest of all time.
The first bout between the two was a taste of what was to come for, essentially, Randy Couture's entire career. At age 39 (just two weeks removed from the big four-zero) and coming off back-to-back losses to hotshot youngsters by the names of Josh Barnett and Ricco Rodriguez, Couture was something of an afterthought. A mere stepping stone to force a long-awaited bout between Chuck Liddell, an up-and-coming knockout artist, and at-the-time champion Tito Ortiz.
Then Couture won, tiring Liddell out in their interim title fight for ten minutes before scoring a takedown, climbing to mount and hammerfisting his way to his third UFC belt.
Liddell would leave for a brief stint with Pride, and Couture would go on to dominate Tito Ortiz and become the undisputed light heavyweight champion.
The second bout was the headlining event in, perhaps, the single greatest UFC card of all time, UFC 52. Held immediately after the finale to the The Ultimate Fighter's inaugural season, the event took the lightning that was captured in a bottle by Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar, shook it up, and made it even bigger. After an impressive win by Georges St-Pierre, the coming out party of Renato Sobral and possibly the single greatest welterweight title fight of all time. Chuck Liddell finally had UFC gold strapped around his waist after scoring an emphatic first-round knockout with what would become his signature backpedaling right cross.
Liddell vs. Couture 2 set records in both live gate and buyrate, which made promotional brass as hungry for a rubber match as the fans. The two were matched up for the final time at UFC 57.
Couture and Liddell would exchange big punches, with both fighters showing wear entering the second. Shortly after the bell, Liddell landed a strong right hook that toppled Couture, earning him the knockout victory.
It was an exciting conclusion to the trilogy that brought the UFC into the post-TUF era.