Former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich “Ace” Franklin has done the UFC another favor by stepping up to take on Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell in Tito Ortiz’s place, after “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” was sidelined with a neck injury. Liddell and Franklin are poised to meet this weekend at UFC 115, where Franklin will look to bounce back from a September knockout loss to Vitor Belfort and take a small step towards the UFC Light Heavyweight title and Liddell will look to prove that he still has what it takes to compete with that division’s best after losing four of his last five. Franklin says that he is feeling that the deck is stacked in his favor against “The Iceman”.
“It’s a good time for me,” said “Ace.” “Mentally I’m in the right spot, physically I’m ahead of schedule, where I need to be and I feel good about the gameplan that we’re coming up with.”
Despite his recent losses, Franklin is not underestimating Liddell and even believes that the Kempo fighter will bring some new, or at least under-utilized, tricks to their meeting.
“I would imagine that he is gonna come into this fight more explosive than he ever has been,” said the former math teacher. “It wouldn’t at all surprise me if Chuck tried to take me down during this fight. Chuck has a good wrestling background, he’s always been a solid wrestler. He hasn’t used it a whole lot in his fights and I think that’s one aspect of his fight game that’s overlooked. I could see him mixing things up, throwing some punches, going for a takedown and using that to at least make me bite on defending the takedown and throwing more punches.”
Franklin is not counting Liddell out in this fight, even though many are. He believes that he will have to be at his best in order to defeat “The Iceman.”
“With Chuck, I don’t think it’s the speed that makes him as dangerous as his timing. He sucks you in, he waits until you get a little over-extended and he picks the proper time to angle off and drop that right hand or his lead hook on you. I’m confident in the angles that I’m taking and being able to execute the way that I need to execute so that there is no hesitation in my technique. We have to make sure that I’m razor sharp in what I’m doing and that there is not any moment of timidness in my motions so that I just move in fluid and land the punches, or the kicks, that I need to land.”
“Ace” gave a shadowy prediction as to how he thinks things will play out between himself and Liddell this Saturday.
“Things are going to get mixed up quite a bit,” said Franklin. “We’re both gonna be moving around and I think, as the time progresses, I tend to accelerate as a fighter and Chuck tends to slow down and things are gonna start to play in my favor.”
He added that he thinks fans are excited for this fight because it promises fireworks.
“You put the two of us in the Octagon together and it’s not going to be a boring fight and I know that,” he said.
Franklin and Liddell will square off in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada this Saturday at UFC 115. As always, FightLine.com will provide live coverage of the event. The fight will air live on pay-per-view and over the internet at Yahoo! Sports and will also feature main card bouts between Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Pat Barry, Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann, Ben Rothwell and Gilbert Yvel and Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald.