Lonely at the top for Liddell

The UFC light-heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell. (supplied photo)

The UFC light-heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell. (supplied photo)

JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 PM ET

Chuck Liddell may be watching tonight's Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight belt bout a little more carefully than normal.

The UFC light-heavyweight champ will, as usual, be ringside when Rich Franklin defends his title against Brazilian striker Anderson Silva.

But with a thinning talent pool in his own 205 lbs. class, Liddell knows he may be looking at his next challenger.

Liddell's been going through fighters like a fat kid through Smarties and the last man to beat him in a UFC fight, hall-of-famer Randy Couture, has retired.

A fight against Pride champ Wanderlei Silva fell apart which has left Liddell feeling a little lonely at the top.

And he admits his dominance in the light-heavyweight ranks may force the UFC to get a little creative in plotting his future matches.

"I'll fight Rich. I think it would be more exciting than me fighting Tito," he said in reference to his upcoming title defence against challenger Tito Ortiz.

Liddell says there's no way he'll cut down to 185 lbs. but Franklin has fought at 205 lbs. in the past. And if that doesn't work, Liddell says he's willing to meet him halfway -- at 195 lbs.

"I like Rich, he's a nice guy and I don't wish it upon him, but I'll fight him anytime he wants," says Liddell, whose mixed-martial arts record is 19 wins and three losses.

As for his fight with Ortiz, Liddell says it will be a pleasure to pound the arrogant fellow Californian -- again.

"It'll be fun beating him up," says Liddell.

When the two last met in April of 2004, Liddell disposed of Ortiz with a knockout 38 seconds into the second round.

The relationship between the two former friends soured after that fight and Liddell says Ortiz still harbours a grudge.

"He gets mad at his friends that are still friends of mine," says Liddell. "He's still mad I beat him up."

Liddell was reticent to make any predictions on tonight's fight, but said: "I worry about Rich getting caught. It's a dangerous fight for Rich."

Franklin is 22-1 as a pro while Silva has a 15 and 4 record.

FIGHT NOTES:

  • Canadian UFC star Georges St. Pierre will get his title shot next month. St. Pierre, who was forced to pull out of a welterweight title fight with Matt Hughes in September due to a groin injury, will get another shot at the Illinois grappler at UFC 65: Bad Intentions slated for Nov. 18 in Sacramento, Calif. His will be one of two feature matches with heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia also putting his belt on the line against jiu-jitsu giant Jeff Monson.* Tonight's undercard at UFC 64, will also feature Kenny Florian and Sean Sherk scrapping for the UFC lightweight belt. The UItimate Fighter alumnus Kalib Starnes will also appear in his first big-card fight. He takes on Yushin Okami. The fight is not expected to be part of the pay-per-view bill.

  • Former UFC heavyweight and light-heavyweight champ Randy Couture has joined The Fight Network as its lead analyst for mixed-martial arts coverage.

  • The UFC's rendition of the pro-wrestling soap opera came to an official end this week with Tito Ortiz beating Ken Shamrock in another lopsided tilt and forcing the UFC hall-of-famer into retirement. Hopefully Ortiz will now concentrate on more fighting and less drama. His next fight will be a title shot at light-heavyweight champ and former good friend Chuck Liddell in December.

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