VANCOUVER, BC, June 12 – Rich Franklin scored perhaps the most important victory since he took the middleweight in 2005, as he knocked out returning Hall of Famer Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell in devastating fashion in the first round of their UFC 115 main event Saturday night. He did this with a broken left arm but an unyielding will to win.
“I broke my hand before and didn’t quit,” Franklin said after the bout. The injury occurred earlier in the first round due to a Liddell kick, but Franklin not only soldiered on, he knocked out one of the sport’s most feared strikers in a bittersweet night for fans of Liddell, who have seen the 40-year old light heavyweight legend lose his third straight fight by knockout.
Franklin’s gameplan was clear at the outset – quick left hands down the middle with leg kicks to keep Liddell from setting his feet to throw his lethal right hand. Liddell adjusted well to this strategy though, using his own kicks more than we’ve seen recently, and when the two did exchange, Liddell still had some speed on the fastball. Just before the midway point, Liddell was able to get the fight to the mat, another wrinkle in his game that had been missing, but as the two rose, Liddell emerged with a cut between his eyes.
Encouraged, Franklin began to let his hands go a little more, but with 1:10 left, Liddell hit paydirt with the right hand, staggering Franklin briefly. The Ohio native recovered quickly and came firing back, and as Liddell looked to engage, he walked into a flush right hand that dropped him to the mat. Liddell’s head hit the mat hard, and referee Herb Dean halted the bout at the 4:55 mark, giving Franklin new life in the light heavyweight title picture.
“I’m here at 205 and I’m gonna make a run for the title,” said the 34-year old Franklin.
With the win, Franklin improves to 28-5 with 1 NC; Liddell, who has now lost five of his last six bouts, falls to 21-8.
UFC 115 Event Results:
Rich Franklin def. Chuck Liddell by Knock Out 1st round 4:55… Mirko Cro Cop def. Pat Barry by Submission (Choke) 3rd round 4:30… Martin Kampmann def. Paulo Thiago by Unanimous Decision 3rd round 5:00… Ben Rothwell def. Gilbert Yvel by Unanimous Decision 3rd round 5:00… Carlos Condit def. Rory MacDonald by Technical Knock Out 3rd round 4:53… Evan Dunham def. Tyson Griffin by Split Decision 3rd round 5:00… Matt Wiman def. Mac Danzig by Submission (Choke) 1st round 1:45… Mario Miranda def. David Loiseau by Technical Knock Out 2nd round 4:07… James Wilks def. Peter Sobotta by Unanimous Decision 3rd round 5:00… Claude Patrick def. Ricardo Funch by Submission (Choke) 2nd round 1:48… Mike Pyle def. Jesse Lennox by Submission (Choke) 3rd round 4:44…