What is the "Iceman Curse?"
To truly answer that question, we need a short history of the most popular division in the sport.
In the world of mixed martial arts, we find a strange anomoly. In any other combat sport, the most followed division in the sport is always the heavyweight division. But in mixed martial arts it's the light heavyweight division that gets all the love.
It's not too surprising really. The heavyweight division of the UFC has seemed to be cursed for most of its existence and the pool of fighters at heavyweight has always been dismally shallow. Meanwhile, while the light heavyweight has consistently been one of the most talented and stable divisions in the sport.
Frank Shamrock was the first light heavyweight champion and he tallied four successful title defenses before retiring as champion and still undefeated in the UFC.
The next champion, Tito Ortiz, one-ups Shamrock by tallying five successful title defenses before losing his title to Randy Couture.
After a brief back and forth between Vitor Belfort and Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell was the next man to seize the title belt. He would go on to successfully defend four times.
Even in Pride FC, Wanderlei Silva—champion of Pride 205 lbs division—was the the most exciting and popular champion in their entire organization. Wanderlei Silva absolutely dominated that division for most of it's existence. In an organization that was mostly focused on tournaments, Wanderlei Silva still managed to tally four successful title defenses.
The light heavyweight division's key to success has always been the absolute dominance by one fighter over the most talent-rich division in the sport.