clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 115 Preview: Aged Legends Chuck Liddell, Rich Franklin Clash in Main Event Showdown

Franklin_liddell_medium In the main event at UFC 115, mixed martial arts legend Chuck Liddell (21-7, 17-6 UFC) will step back into the Octagon after a fourteen-month layoff following his knockout loss to current UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Tito Ortiz was his previously scheduled opponent, but he was forced to withdraw from the fight due to a nagging neck injury. Not only did Dana White fire Ortiz from his coaching role on The Ultimate Fighter season eleven, but he brought in well-known UFC veteran Rich Franklin (26-5-0-1, 12-4 UFC) to replace Ortiz in the UFC 115 main event.

Interestingly enough, both fighters have been under scrutiny from fans and media that the end of their careers may be near or has passed. Liddell was dropped by Rashad Evans, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in three of his last five fights, and Liddell only won one of his last five -- an unanimous decision to Wanderlei Silva.

Franklin isn't exactly in the same boat, but talk of his age catching up with him has gained a louder voice from fans. His pair of losses to current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and the quick knockout blow that Vitor Belfort delivered at UFC 103 have sparked some scrutiny that Franklin may be weak-chinned. It's nowhere near the evidence that suggests Liddell is well past his prime, but it's certainly enough for fans to talk down Rich as a legitimate competitor in the upper-echelon of the light heavyweight division.

In my mind, Rich Franklin is the perfect high-profile name for Chuck Liddell to take advantage of and get back in the win column. Franklin is well-known for being one of the more well-rounded fighters in the UFC. He has good combinations of the feet, likes to mix in leg and body kicks, can be a menace from top control, and has the Brazilian jiu-jitsu acumen to escape bad positions or submissions on the ground. From a cursory glance, it sounds like Franklin has this in the bag, right?

One of the big problems for Franklin is that his well-roundedness becomes rather limited to one area of his skill-set when power is involved. Anderson Silva combined dynamic striking and power into his attacks, and Belfort's power basically caused Rich to wade into strikes with an uncertainty until he was clipped and put down for the count. Power seems to be something that makes Rich Franklin wilt, and Liddell, for as past his prime as he is, still produces knockout power.

Unfortunately for Chuck, Franklin's ability to attack from range is going to be a problem. Think Keith Jardine for a minute. Franklin has the kicking ability to be a real threat to Chuck's lower body, and if he can damage Liddell's base -- some of that power that Franklin will want to avoid will be gone.

But that's really the only way I see Franklin busting up Liddell and taking advantage. It's tough to see how Chuck's chin will come into play in this fight. He's had a long layoff, seems to be in better shape than he's ever been in before, and will threaten Franklin's chin in this fight. The question is whether a clipping of Liddell's chin will send him crashing to the canvas in spectacular fashion.

The unpredictability factor is very high in this fight, especially for Chuck Liddell. The light switch could be flipped off at any moment in a stand-up war, but I also think Liddell has the power and advantages on the feet that Franklin doesn't seem to possess. Unbelievably, I'm going to go with Chuck Liddell in this fight. I think Franklin will maintain range and point on Chuck consistently while trying to stay away from his power, but Liddell will eventually clobber him with an overhand.

With a victory, Chuck will probably exclaim that he wants a shot at the title to which we'll all laugh. Chuck should probably bang out someone like Mark Coleman, yeah... bring him back, and I'm sure the UFC will find a way to create the Liddell-Ortiz fight down the road as well. Those seem like the most sensible fights for a guy the UFC can't allow to go to another organization, but won't give up fighting.


Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bloody Elbow Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your MMA and UFC news from Bloody Elbow