While last night’s UFC main event was a very important fight for Chuck Liddell, it was also an important fight for his opponent, Rich Franklin. Since departing the middleweight division in 2008, Franklin had gone 2-2 before entering the cage last night. Franklin admitted at the UFC 115 post-fight press conference that the importance of a victory last night was in the back of his mind.
“It maybe was somewhere in the back of my mind, but I really try to push that stuff out,” Franklin admitted. “What happened to me in my last fight will not predict what will happen to me in my next fight. I really believe that. On any given night, Chuck and I could do this 100 times and there would be several different outcomes.
“This happened to be my night, and last fight it wasn’t,” he continued. “But you can’t help but think that, ‘Well, if I drop three of four, where would that leave me?’ Any time you put your back against the wall in a no-win situation, where ‘if I don’t win this, it’s over,’ you take your mind off the important thing and that’s focusing on my performance.”
Luckily for Franklin, he didn’t need to worry about that as he ended up knocking out the former light-heavyweight champion with seconds to go in the opening round. The bout was likely Liddell’s last in the Octagon, a fact that left Franklin feeling a little uncomfortable.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet victory because Chuck and I are friends,” Franklin stated. “I really like Chuck. I went to his locker room after the fight to check on him, but he was with the doctors and I just spoke with John Hackleman for a few seconds. I don’t want to be labeled as the person who kind of put him out of the sport or whatever. I don’t like the thought of that.”
Liddell had 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 left arm. Despite losing the ability of his left arm, Franklin had no intention of quitting if the bout went to a second round.
“I was just happy the fight was over because I knew my arm was broken, but I definitely wasn’t going to quit,” said Franklin. “I’ve broken bones before and continued fighting, but there was a part of me that was wondering what kind of strategy I was going to use to win the fight with a broken left 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. Franklin admitted that he was lulling “The Iceman” in and wasn’t as hurt by Liddell’s punches as he was letting on.
“I was fine,” he admitted. “The punches landed. He hit me with a two-piece, and it landed pretty good… I was already moving back with my momentum. I just remember thinking, ‘I’m not rocked or anything, but I can’t let that continue to happen.’ But I was fine. I think that he thought he had me more hurt than I was.
“He follows big when he thinks he has you hurt and I just tried to stay tight and threw the lead hook, and it caught him on the chin,” he continued. “But I was never as badly hurt as he thought I was.”
You can watch Franklin at the UFC 115 post-fight press conference courtesy of MMAFighting.com below:
Thanks to Mark Wayne for contributing to this article.