The road to UFC 115 has been a long one for both competitors featured in the main event. Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin will meet for the first time Saturday in a match that will have no title ramifications. Pure pride will be on the line as both fighters are coming off losses.
The last time Chuck Liddell fought in Canada, it was against Brazillian Maricio “Shogun” Rua. The fight ended at 4:28 in the first round, as Rua scored a TKO from punches. After the fight, UFC president Dana White declared that Liddell’s career was over.
“I care about him. I care about his health, and it’s over, man. It’s over.” White said. “At the end of the day, I care about these guys. I don’t want to see anybody stick around too long. You’re never going to see Chuck Liddell on the canvas again.”
In May, Liddell’s trainer John Hackelman said Liddell was ready to return to the octagon. White has so much respect for the fighter that he let him have another fight.
“Can I tell him not to fight? Absolutely not. If he still wants to fight, he can fight. I’m not saying, ‘It will never happen. It will never happen.’ But he made a deal with me [not to fight],” White said following Hakelman’s analysis.
Tito Ortiz was first slated to fight Liddell at UFC 115, but pulled out at the last second due to a neck injury. Liddell and Ortiz have a long history that mainly consists of Liddell calling out Ortiz, then Ortiz backs out claiming a friendship that doesn’t exist.
The two have met twice with Liddell emerging as the victor both times. Ortiz lost the first time to Liddell after losing his light heavyweight title to Randy Couture. He lost again to Lidddell in a match for the light heavyweight title at UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz 2.
Liddell won the next six fights of his career after beating Ortiz the first time, holding the title belt for nearly two years. After his most recent victory over Ortiz, he has lost four out of his last five bouts.
Though he lost, Liddell did not disappoint fight fans by participating in a boring contest. He enters the cage with only one result in mind: knockout. He is not afraid of challenging his opponents, even if it means that he himself must take a few punches.
Six months after his 40th birthday Liddell will face Franklin in an exhibition match. MMA Sportsbooks have set Liddell as the underdog over Franklin at UFC 115. Liddell’s line has been set at +120, Franklin’s at -150.