Today in MMA history: Chuck Liddell knocks out Randy Couture, earns first UFC title

Fifteen years ago today, Chuck Liddell became a UFC champion.

On April 16, 2005, Liddell won the UFC light heavyweight championship for the first time. At MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Liddell headlined UFC 52 against then-titleholder Randy Couture. The two fighters had just served as coaches on Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Both men found success early, with Couture clipping some particularly solid shots on Liddell’s temple. The action was stopped, but only briefly, when Liddell’s thumb caught Couture in the eye. The fight resumed after the cage-side physician gave his stamp of approval.

Upon time-in, Liddell and Couture wildly exchanged. Liddell cranked Couture with a brutal straight right hand that sent the champion to the mat. From there, Liddell went for the kill. “The Iceman” pounced on his downed opponent and removed whatever consciousness was left inside Couture.

Not only did Liddell clinch the title at UFC 52, he avenged a loss suffered to Couture at UFC 43 in June 2003. In the first meeting, Couture finished Liddell with punches in Round 3.

The two completed the trilogy 10 months later at UFC 57 in February 2006. That night, it was Liddell topping Couture in the best-of-three series, knocking out “The Natural” in Round 2.

In the video above, relive Liddell’s title-earning knockout of Couture at UFC 52.