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Preview: Liddell vs. Franklin

Preview by Brady Crytzer

In the main event of UFC 115 in Vancouver, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Rich “Ace” Franklin will look to recapture some of the old fire that made them legends of the sport.

After stepping in for an injured Tito Ortiz, Franklin and Liddell now find themselves in one of the UFC’s first true Hall-of-Fame fights. But, despite the flash and flare of yesteryear, do these giants still have what it takes to climb back to the top? Or will the glories of days gone by be a distant memory? Join Fightnews.com’s Brady Crytzer as he previews one of the most intriguing bouts of 2010.

Striking: These fighters approach the stand-up from differing perspectives. While neither of them excels at their particular styles, they have each made it their own. Liddell has made a living out of stopping takedowns and unloading with long-range, powerful shots. He is the hardest hitting light heavyweight to ever step into the Octagon, but his lack of defense and disregard for basic boxing fundamentals makes his attack flawed. There is, afterall, a reason he was stopped in 3 of his last 5 bouts. Franklin, on the other hand, has outboxed his opponents over recent years from a confusing southpaw stance. His fatal flaw however is that he rarely commits to his punches and his opponent lose respect for his power. Although he defeated Wanderlai Silva at UFC 99, the hard charging “Axe Murderer” largely walked through his punches and stung him with wild hooks. To one up his fellow countryman, Vitor Belfort KO’ed Franklin just three months later.

Neither man is exceptional at what they do, and their respective imperfections do not match up well. Liddell is an aggressive counterpuncher, and Franklin can be too passive at times. Franklin should dictate the pace on the feet with boxing-like movement, but the most telling blows will come from “The Iceman.”

Grappling: Chuck Liddell was a college wrestler that learned the value of the stand-up. Early in his career he used his outstanding takedown defense to frustrate his opponents, and his natural punching power to stop them. As of late however the Liddell riddle has been solved. As the former 205 lb. champion progressed in age his reflexes waned, as did his takedown defense. Franklin is, in essence, one of the sport’s first true mixed martial artists as he started from scratch. His wrestling and boxing progressed at a similar pace, and he has used his impressive understanding of Brazilian jiu jitsu to finish fights from his back.

This fight will only go to the floor if Franklin gets tagged. Liddell will go out on his shield and never wilt when taking fire. It is unlikely that Franklin will score the takedown, so Liddell’s sprawl will be the most impressive grappling that this fight will see.

How They Match Up: Let’s be realistic, these are two fighters that have had their chance. While they may not be competitive against the new breeder’s that dominate the sport, it is fun to see them finally square off.

Liddell will approach this fight as he always does by stepping backward until he finds an opening to land his menacing right cross. The last thing that a fighter loses is his power, and that will benefit Chuck.

Franklin, as seen in his last two fights, will dance and attempt to work off of his southpaw jab. If he stays out of range, he will easily outpoint Liddell.

There has been talk of Chuck’s chin being weak, and while it may be, Franklin does not possess the power to take advantage of it. “The Iceman” is a much larger man, and seems to be in the best shape of his life. If Liddell can cut off the ring and absorb a few punches he can end this fight.

That would be the most thrilling outcome.

The most likely outcome?

Watch for Franklin to box for three rounds. As in his previous bouts he will be staggered by a few shots that will make it exciting. Franklin via judges’ decision.

 


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