The return of the Iceman lasted just one round. Rich Franklin defeated Chuck Liddell at UFC 115. Franklin put Liddell down with one punch in the first round. The win puts the Ace back in the elite mix in two UFC divisions. Sadly, the knockout once again puts Chuck Liddell’s UFC future in serious doubt.
This was a hell of a fight for one round. Chuck Liddell came out mixing it up with punches, kicks, and takedowns. Rich Franklin had some great counters and wound up trading with Chuck more than I thought he would. Liddell caught Franklin with some nasty kicks including one that broke Franklin’s arm. The finish came at 4:55 of Round 1 as Liddell caught Franklin and swarmed in for the kill. Liddell tried finishing with a swinging left and Franklin countered with a beautiful right hand that nailed Liddell right on the chin. Liddell went down immediately, which didn’t stop Franklin from adding a few extra punches for insurance.
This was one of the most exciting rounds of UFC action all year. It was back and forth throughout the round. As stated, Franklin broke his arm in the round. So in essence, he knocked out Chuck with one arm (although he was still swinging with his broken left arm). It was a gutsy performance by both men, especially Franklin. I have no idea how he would have fought another two rounds, but he told Joe Rogan after the fight that he had no intentions of quitting with the broken arm.
I give Rich Franklin a ton of credit. Rich Franklin wasn’t looking to come back so soon after surgery. Franklin stepped up when the UFC called him and I have to give him credit for that. Franklin will have name value, but I think UFC 115 is the last we ever see of Rich Franklin in a pay-per-view main-event. For Franklin to come back early, train hard for a fight that he wasn’t itching to take, and win is quite an accomplishment.
[adinserter block=”1″]Physically, Liddell looked to be in the best shape of his UFC career. Unfortunately the reflexes just aren’t there anymore to hang with good fighters. The loss will once again start rumors of a Chuck Liddell retirement. We are right back to the drawing board with Chuck Liddell getting knocked out in the first round. Ironically Liddell looked like he was back to prime form right before he got caught with the right hand. Either way, a knockout is a knock out. Dana White was adamant about wanting Chuck Liddell to retire after his loss to UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua. Liddell begged and pleaded to get a fight and Dana White acquiesced. I don’t know how many more times Dana White will give in if the Iceman stays cold in the octagon.
The win is great for Rich Franklin but I don’t know where you go from here with him. While he keeps hanging around hoping to slide into a third match with Anderson Silva, I think that is the last thing that anyone wants to see. Franklin’s biggest wins of the decade have been against aging fighters Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell. I don’t think Franklin would stand a chance with the elite of the UFC light heavyweight division. Maybe a match with Randy Couture perhaps is next for the Ace?
[adinserter block=”2″]The obvious next step for Chuck Liddell is the third Tito Ortiz match. Rashad Evans vs. Rampage Jackson and Matt Serra vs. Matt Hughes proved that TUF fans will wait for coaches grudge matches. I just don’t have any clue as to when or even if Tito Ortiz will ever fight again. If he can, a Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell fight is really the only fight at this point for the Iceman. Yet at 40 and after another brutal knockout, I don’t know how long Chuck can wait for that fight.
I think the biggest problem with Rich Franklin is that he is better than the mid-card UFC fighters but he isn’t in the class of the elite UFC fighters. Honestly his best bet is to wait out Anderson Silva’s self-imposed retirement in a couple of years. I think Franklin would have a shot against Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen but nothing is guaranteed. Unfortunately the UFC light heavyweight division is just too stacked for the Ace to do any serious damage.
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