UFC 115: Does Chuck Liddell Even Have a Chance Against Rich Franklin?

Brandon HinchmanCorrespondent IJune 10, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 13: UFC fighter Chuck Liddell looks on before the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball game at AT&T Park on September 13, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell has his fair share of KOs on his MMA record. However, after losing to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in 2007, things just haven't been the same.

Liddell went on to lose to Keith Jardine, scrape a split decision victory out from underneath Wanderlei Silva, and then tallied a devastating knockout loss to Rashad Evans.

Although we love watching Liddell in the Octagon, the truth is that ring rust is real, even to those who pretend it isn't (e.g., Rampage in UFC 114).

People bring up the fact that Liddell went against some of the toughest opponents in the light heavyweight division for his last few fights, and these same individuals claim that Liddell shouldn't be discredited for this very reason.

However, the UFC is the No. 1 mixed martial arts organization in the whole world, and if a fighter has no chance of being a legitimate contender for the title, he has no business being a fighter.

Liddell went on to fight Mauricio "Shogun" Rua well over a year ago, and he lost badly. Shogun used this fight as his opportunity to gain a title shot, and if you asked Joe Rogan after Liddell's loss, Liddell was retired right when the ref stopped the fight.

Since then, Liddell has competed in Dancing with the Stars, taken some time to attend some fights and coach TUF 11. But has he remained competitive?

Granted, he wanted to fight Tito Ortiz a third time; Ortiz pulled out, and now Rich Franklin is set to face Liddell. Can Liddell maintain his vigor and, teetering on age 40, actually offer a significant challenge to Franklin?

Franklin's biggest win streak ended back in 2006 when he faced Anderson Silva. Since their first fight, Franklin's record has been blotchy, but he has still beat some significant guys: Travis Lutter, Matt Hamill, and Wanderlei Silva, to name a few.

Though he lost to Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson, Franklin is five years the junior of Liddell and, more importantly, has stayed competitive, fighting three times in 2009.

Although Liddell packs a lot of power, and he always has a puncher's chance, it became clear in his last few fights that he doesn't have the same quickness he once had. This may or may not be a big factor against Franklin, but it's something that certainly holds significance for Liddell as a competitive fighter in the UFC light heavyweight division.

As for who will win, it's safe to say the majority of UFC fans would love to see the old Liddell back in the mix. The fact, though, is that even if Liddell wins, being a true competitor and having a title shot seems unlikely.

But who knows? If Couture, another UFC hall-of-famer, can still hang and even beat some of the big boys, maybe Liddell can use a victory over Franklin to once again get back in the mix. Shogun came back from looking bad against Forrest Griffin and he struggled against Mark Coleman, so anything can happen.

Good luck to both fighters.