While you were probably trying to get your wife to return the veggie burgers she purchased for the sparsely attended barbeque you planned, 40-year-old Chuck Liddell spent his weekend valiantly kicking, punching and gasping his way to a stirring defeat at the hands of MMA veteran Rick Franklin. You can find the whole fight here.
Liddell displayed the fighting competence he’s lacked in years early in the fight, laying into Franklin with blasts that brought to mind his early career mixed martial arts dominance. At one point late in the fight he shot off a high-kick that would have probably left me writhing around with a torn groin had I attempted it. He even broke his opponent’s left arm. Alas, by the end of the match he had dissolved into a sluggish ball of wheezing that left his actions reckless and his punches long and slow. Franklin jumped at an opening uncovered when Liddell wildly missed a righthanded desperation haymaker and finished the fight with a well placed jab to the chin that knocked Liddell out cold. Thus ended an era.
The former middleweight champion [Rick Franklin] fought through a broken arm suffered when he blocked a Liddell kick, ultimately recovering to knock out Liddell at 4:55 of the first round in front of nearly 20,000 fans at a sold-out GM Place.
The crowd, which roared for both men all night, collectively rose as one to celebrate their performance. The win makes Franklin an instant player in the light-heavyweight division. It also probably makes him the last man to ever enter the Octagon against Liddell.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet victory because I like Chuck. Chuck and I are friends,” said Franklin (28-5-1), his arm in a sling and bathing in ice following the contest. -Montreal Gazette
An MMA icon for almost a decade, Liddell made up for his lack of top flight technical ability by displaying extreme toughness and white Mr. T type vibes that eventually made him the face of a fledgling sports dynasty. Though he may not have been the best fighter, he sure was the most entertaining and the ‘media darling’ badge he earned enabled his legacy to grow even as his fighting ability diminished. As MMA fighting quickly became popular, newly minted fans ascribed to the time held tradition that ‘whoever looks the baddest probably is the baddest’. And Liddell looked the baddest.
Unfortunately for Liddell, as the sport grew in popularity, the beer brawling culture that boosted the rise of MMA was quickly being replaced by a more efficient way of fighting that boasted athletes who in another era may have turned their attention to boxing. These hypertalented newcomers have been kicking Liddell silly. After Saturday night, he’d lost five of his past six fights, with four of those losses coming by knockout.
By the end, UFC King Dana White was practically begging Liddell to give up life in the octagon, saying in April of 2009 after Liddell suffered another high profile loss to Shogun Rua, “He’s a huge superstar, and we could still sell lots of tickets. But I don’t care about that. I care about him. I care about his health, and it’s over, man. It’s over.”
What a drag it is getting old.