Who better to welcome the UFC to Toronto than Chuck Liddell, the man who's been called the "face" of mixed martial arts?
Though his fighting days may be behind him (for now), you wouldn't know it from the crowds reaction. A swarm of hungry fans and wannabe fighters packed into an exclusive seminar hosted by Liddell Friday at the UFC Fan Expo in Toronto.
Once class was in session, Professor Chuck gave the gathered crowd a lesson in "Iceman 101," showing a little bit of the skills that made him the dominant UFC Light-Heavyweight champion. Those skills included his famous "sprawl," the power right hand, and even some offensive wrestling and "ground and pound" offense.
Throughout the session, Liddell was a font of energy, speaking softly but with a clear enthusiasm, walking around the session and offering critiques and tips to the prospective brawlers.
The real story may have come after the session, when fans mobbed The Iceman as he tried to leave the seminar room. Despite the continued protestations of former WEC president Reed Harris, Chuck remained behind until every autograph and picture request was satisfied. It was a touchstone display of exactly the sort of generosity that made Liddell the most loved fighter in MMA history.
Still, the demands on the former champ couldn't be ignored. "Cmon Chuck, time to go," Harris insisted once again, as UFC staff tried to move The Iceman and his horde of followers out the door. Pressed for time, Liddell took one more minute to really hit the "fan friendly" button, posing for pictures with some Toronto police officers.
If this is a good indicator of how the UFC is being received in Toronto, then it's pretty clear that Fan Expo is off to a good start.