There is no denying that the glory days of Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin are long behind them. Once the king of the 205 lb division, Chuck was on top of the world earning KO/TKO wins over the likes of Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Alistar Overeem, as well as many others. Defending the belt 4 successful times, his reign finally came to an end at the hands of Rampage Jackson, a fighter who seemed to forever have the Iceman's number. From there, everything fell apart, losing 3 of his next four fights, two of which were by brutal KO's which has convinced everyone that his run as a fighter should be over.
On the other side of the coin, we have Rich Franklin, a well-spoken, articulate, Jim Carrey-esque jack of all trades. He's never really had any one skillset that was considered amazing, but he used what he had to win the Middleweight title and defend it three times, but along came a spider and we all know what happened there. Since then, he was struggled to find his place in the landscape, doing everything from taking on the scraps of Silva's defeated foes, to jumping to light-heavyweight to test the waters of a bigger division. Now though, he was become the role of proverbial measuring stick for fighters to see where they stack up in the title picture.
Seeing as how these fighter's best days have come and gone, people like to write this fight off as nothing important since there is no title implications here. People argue that since they'll never be top of the food chain, there's no real point in getting excited for the fight. The coverage for this fight is minimal compared to previous ones and certainly the card after this one will get. I find this a bit dissapointing and I would have to respectfully disagree for two reasons.
First of all, why do we watch fights? Do we only watch them just to see who the top dog in each respective division is? I don't think so, people watch it for the excitement and thrill of a good fight. Don't get me wrong, I love finding out who the best of the best is, but did Cro-Cop fighting random Japanese guys stop me from watching when he came on? Or when Fedor fought guys like Zulu, Tim Sylvia, or Brett Rodgers because they weren't top flight competition? Hell no, because despite the compettion, I love watching them fight because they are always exciting. Whatever your opinion on Franklin or Liddell, when was the last time either of these guys have been in a boring fight? It's pretty much guaranteed to be an exciting bout, which is why I love the sport at the end of the day.
Second, these guys are clearly in the twilight of their careers. But I say this; who cares? I remember when I was younger (and this shows how young I am because it wasn't THAT long ago) but my parents told me to come in the living room because Arnold Palmer was playing his last few holes of his career. Was he anywhere near the golfer he once was? Of course not, but it was the last chapter of a legend in the sport, and made it all that more emotional to watch. Was Michael Jordan even half the player he was in his last game he ever played with the Wizards? No, but that didn't stop me from tuning in and tried with all my might to get tickets when I was a kid because it was Michael freakin Jordan. Or when my favorite Redskin of all time, Darrell Green, played his final home game. He wasn't even a starter anymore, but he was such an integral part of the Redskins spirit that it was a must watch game. Between his emotional speech at halftime and his final interception in the 4th quarter, it was more memorable than any game I ever saw him play before then.
So instead of complaining that these guys (well at least Liddell) need to hang up the gloves and move on, I think we should instead enjoy the last hurrah of a legendary fighter that reached pinnacles of fame like no other fighter had before him. Because like him or not, and for better or worse, there will never be another Chuck Liddell ever again.