Chuck Liddell looked better physically and technically than he has in several Octagon performances but, with five seconds left in the first round, Rich Franklin proved that no amount of training can improve a deteriorating chin.
Liddell came out of the gate looking to mix things up and keep his striking technical but Franklin kept him honest with solid combinations and some nice inside leg kicks. After shrugging off a takedown attempt by Franklin, Liddell turned things up by landing two very solid body kicks–one of which may have broken Franklin’s arm. After another brief exchange Liddell landed a picture-perfect takedown but could not capitalize due to Franklin’s activity from the bottom. As they stood, Liddell began bleeding from a cut in between his eyes that possibly came from an inadvertent head clash. Ignoring the cut, they exchanged with heavy shots and Liddell staggered Franklin with a right hand. After throwing a nice head kick and pushing Franklin against the cage, Liddell landed a clean elbow. As he tried to follow up with a loaded right hand, Franklin hit Liddell with a short right of his own that put the former champ out cold.
Liddell did all the right things in his training camp and it was obvious in both his physique and his in-cage tactics. Liddell looked better and more sharp than he had in some time until he became overzealous upon feeling that he had hurt Franklin. It was in going for the kill that Liddell opened himself up for the knockout. Had he showed more reserve the outcome may have been different but “The Iceman” has never been known for reserve and it may be for the best that his chin was finally and decisively exposed.
UFC President Dana White said recently that if Liddell were to lose tonight that he will again call for “The Iceman'”s retirement. Liddell looked sharp and ready tonight and was taken out by a punch that should not have fazed him and would not have only a few years ago. Liddell proved that while he may be motivated and technically able to hang with some of the division’s heavy-hitters, he is physically unable to withstand the punishment endured during an MMA fight. This fight should serve as closure for himself and his fans; “The Iceman” left an indelible mark on the sport of MMA and should always be remembered as the devastating knockout-artist that brought legions of fans to the burgeoning sport. Any more fights that end with “The Iceman” out cold on his back will only serve to take away from his legendary status.