UFC 115 may seem like something out of a Hot Tub Time Machine. The UFC officially announced that Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin will headline UFC 115 in Vancouver on June 12. This confirms rumors that Tito Ortiz is out of The Ultimate Fighter 11 and will be replaced by Rich Franklin. Liddell vs. Franklin is a tremendous main-event on paper…if it were 2006.
While I wasn’t thrilled with Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell III, Rich Franklin vs. Chuck Liddell has zero appeal to me. There is a serious styles clash here as you have Franklin who is a counter fighter who doesn’t engage against Chuck Liddell who loves to attack. At least with Liddell-Ortiz, you knew at some point that those two would provide some fireworks. Both fighters are coming off terrible one round losses. I see nothing remotely exciting about this fight.
For Rich Franklin, the fall of the former UFC middleweight champion started in 2006. Anderson Silva dominated Franklin on two separate occasions, killing any mystique that the former high school teacher had as a UFC superstar. Since losing the UFC middleweight title in 2006, Franklin has gone 5-3 with his most recent loss being an embarrassing first round loss via TKO to Vitor Belfort at UFC 103.
[adinserter block=”1″]At one time, Chuck Liddell was regarded by some as the best fighter in MMA. One thing you can’t ever take away from Liddell is that he rarely fought tomato cans. Liddell went on a tear, destroying some of the best in the UFC and all of MMA from 2003-2007. Liddell finally hit a wall when he lost to longtime rival Rampage Jackson in 2007. The free fall just began, as Liddell lost his next two of three fights. Liddell’s last fight saw him brutalized by Shogun Rua losing via TKO in Round 1 like Franklin.
After the fight against Rua, UFC president Dana White announced that the UFC would no longer be booking Chuck Liddell in fights. White felt that it would be irresponsible of the UFC to do so and retired the Iceman. Liddell took some time off but returned to announce that he did plan to fight again. White eventually acquiesced saying he wasn’t Chuck’s father and if Chuck Liddell wanted to fight again, he would sanction another Liddell fight.
This is where the appeal of a Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell fight came in for the UFC. Liddell should have beaten Ortiz. A good win would have allowed Dana White to start booking Chuck Liddell into some super fights. While most would agree that Liddell is past his prime, I don’t think anyone would argue that he is still a major UFC drawing card. A loss on the other hand would have allowed Dana White to capitalize on Tito Ortiz’s notoriety and revive a career long past its prime. This fight allows nothing of the sort.
[adinserter block=”2″]On paper, Rich Franklin should win this fight. Franklin is too quick for Liddell and will likely frustrate the UFC Hall of Fame fighter. I would not expect to see Liddell get knocked out or lose via TKO. So Rich Franklin via wins and then what do you have? The stars in the middleweight division have already rolled through Franklin. I don’t think anyone wants to see him back at light heavyweight permanently. Unless Liddell decisively beats Franklin, there isn’t really anything good that can come out of this fight.
Now the appeal of this fight could all change with The Ultimate Fighter 11. If these two can work a program here in short time and develop some kind of grudge real or manufactured, this could turn out to be an appealing fight. Regardless, the result will still likely be the same. If Dana White was desperate for opponents I’d rather see Chuck vs. Randy Couture or Wanderlei Silva again. But Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin does nothing to spark the interest of this UFC fan.
The full UFC 115 card…
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Pat Barry in a heavyweight match
Paulo Thiago vs. Martin Kampmann in a welterweight bout
Tyson Griffin vs. Evan Dunham in a lightweight match
Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel in a heavyweight bout
Mike Pyle vs. Jesse Lennox in a welterweight match
James Wilks vs. Peter Sobotta in a welterweight contest
Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald in a welterweight match
Mac Danzig vs. Matt Wiman in a lightweight bout and
Ricardo Funch vs. Claude Patrick in a welterweight match.
Thanks to VancouverSun.com for the tip.
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