Chuck Liddell and Anna Trebunskaya
Only the most astute MMA fans woke up Thursday with their minds on one of the most important anniversaries in the sport.
Wait. Did we say “most”? We probably meant “least.”
Either way, some of us are wondering how the hell it’s been 14 years since Chuck Liddell debuted on Season 9 of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Wait. Did we say “some of us”? We probably meant “nearly none of us.” Oh, fine. One of us: Me. There’s no shame in loving the ballroom.
Liddell, at the time, still was an active fighter in the UFC, though the former light heavyweight champion was mired in a 1-4 slump that started when he lost the belt to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in May 2007.
After DWTS, “The Iceman” fought one more time in the UFC and was knocked out in the first round by Rich Franklin at UFC 115. He returned nearly five years ago for a one-off fight against Tito Ortiz in an attempt to beat him three times, but Ortiz knocked him out in the first round, as well. That left Liddell 1-6 in his final seven fights with five of the losses by knockout.
On DWTS, with professional partner Anna Trebunskaya, Liddell finished in 11th place. The pair was eliminated from the show in the fourth week of the season. Liddell got the boot just ahead of another athlete, Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin. Snowboarder Louie Vito and former NFL standout Michael Irvin were eliminated later in the season, which was won by singer and actor Donny Osmond.
In Week 1, Liddell and Trebunskaya danced a Foxtrot to “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra. Liddell’s high-water mark in his four weeks on the show came in Week 2, when he got his only 7 from a Tango to “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. But his scores regressed in Week 3 and Week 4 with a Samba, then his final dance, a Two-step to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” by Brooks & Dunn. And frankly, if there’s ever been a reason to eliminate someone from DWTS based on a song alone, it might be that one.
Athletes historically have done well on the show. About one-third of the final three stars in the 31 seasons of the show have come from the sports world. In Season 22 in 2016, Paige VanZant finished second. Athletes have won 12 of the 31 seasons, and two of the seasons only had athletes as the three finalists.
If you’ve made it this far (you haven’t), check out “The Iceman” on Season 9 of DWTS in the video above. And in case you’re wondering (you aren’t), Season 32 of “Dancing with the Stars” has its season premiere next Tuesday on ABC and Disney+. There is just one athlete among the stars this season: former NFL running back Adrian Peterson.