Chuck Liddell says UFC’s tough times will pass with promising new fighters

The UFC has really taken it on the chin this year.

Jon Jones was tossed from Saturday’s UFC 200 after flunking a drug test; Conor McGregor lost and got 86’d for not doing press; titan Ronda Rousey lost her title; titan-slayer Holly Holm lost it, too; and Joe Rogan has mused about dropping his commentary mic.

Is this a tough year for the UFC? Let’s ask Chuck Liddell.

“I think it’s a tough year,” the UFC legend and UFC VP of business development answered Friday.

“Jon is his own worst enemy. He can’t seem to get himself under control,” Liddell said. “As far as losing fights, that’s part of the sport. With all this media attention, you’re gonna have people crack.”

Months ago, Vegas ticket brokers salivated at how McGregor and Rousey fights at UFC 200 could be the year’s biggest moneymakers. Then Rousey and McGregor lost, and all that glittered was gone.

“That’s what comes out of it being real. You can’t pick and choose who’s going to win, or who’s gonna mess up. This isn’t WWE where you can control (the action) inside the ring or outside,” Liddell said.

Liddell sees strong up-and-coming fighters on the horizon so he’s still optimistic for the UFC’s year to come, starting with UFC 200.

“Even with losing those names (such as Jones and McGregor), this is probably the deepest card ever. We’ve got more exciting fights, on paper at least, that you could ask for.”

Liddell came to Vegas on Friday to meet fans, pose for photos, and give away tickets while promoting his MMA dark drama “Kingdom,” which just got green-lighted for a third season.

Fans ask him all the time if Liddell in his prime could have beat Jones in his prime.

Answer: “If I’m in my prime, I would have definitely knocked him out.

“I hit too hard for him. I’m longer than he thinks. If he tried to back up, I will put my hands on him, and he’s not going to be able to take me down, and if he does, I’ll get right back up.”

HOW TO STAY TOGETHER 49 YEARS

Chicago has been a band for 49 years. They formed when Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive. And the nine-member act still gets along?

“We still stay in the same hotels. We use the same dressing rooms,” says Chicago trumpeter and vocalist Lee Loughnane, as the group prepares to perform Saturday in the Pearl at the Palms ($80-$229).

Chicago’s never had physical fights, only arguments. How do they last?

A. Conflict resolution. If someone tries to leave a room during an argument, “it’s time to give them their space, and let it go, and then they’ll come back,” Loughnane says. “If they’re really off-kilter, you go out and drag their ass back in the room and work it out.”

B. Ride out tragedies and departures. In 1978, Terry Kath, who sang “Colour My World,” died. Peter Cetera left in the 1980s.

“But the band has always gotten better when somebody leaves, because you can almost feel the unhappiness, and when they go, we can enjoy ourselves again,” Loughnane said.

C. Be artistically compatible and have similar tastes in music.

“We enjoy playing the music as much today as we did the first day we got together, or it wouldn’t work,” he said.

D. Listen first, decide later. Band mates don’t criticize each other while writing, but wait until they listen to the results to ask, “Does it work?”

“It is a creative, collaborative situation where you just listen to somebody’s idea, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. The proof is in when you listen back. If that works, you use it. If not, get another idea and try that. It’s not something where you go, ‘I’m sorry, that sucks.’

“That has happened so few times, I can count it on one hand. Then you forget it and move on. This is music. It’s not brain surgery.”

PARTYING WITH UFC STARS

Wanna party with UFC fighters at UFC 200 afterparties Saturday night?

Reigning bantamweight champ Miesha “Cupcake” Tate will host at Sapphire Showroom in Sapphire strip club, raffling gloves for early customers. Tate also hosts Sunday at Daylight dayclub.

Nick Diaz hosts at Chateau nightclub in the Paris hotel. Red carpet is at midnight.

Anderson Silva hosts at 1 Oak nightclub in The Mirage.

And McGregor hosts in the Wynn’s Intrigue nightclub.

GOSSY AND RUDOLPH

At STK Steakhouse Thursday, Caesars Palace headliner Matt Goss and Britney Spears’ former manager Larry Rudolph collaborated on eating shellfish and tuna tartare with Dover sole, sea bass, rib-eye, cookies, doughnuts and peach sorbet.

FOOD CELEBRATION

After winning a bout Thursday at UFC Fight Night 90, bantamweight Anthony Birchak took friends to the floor-performance Sake Rok in the Park for sushi and sake.

Correction: A previous version of this story called Liddell’s MMA drama “Kingdom Korner.”

Doug Elfman can be reached at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman. On Twitter: @VegasAnonymous

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