In the wake of UFC 115, it's hard to shake that feeling of deja vu.
Just over a year ago, Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell found himself in a do-or-die situation. Liddell (21-8) had suffered a brutal knockout at the hands of Rashad (Sugar) Evans and a loss against Mauricio (Shogun) Rua at UFC 97 in Montreal would mean the end of his fighting career.
Against Rua, Liddell came out swinging but was stopped in the first round. With the loss, Liddell had dropped four of his last five bouts. It was time for him to hang them up.
However, despite UFC president Dana White saying Liddell would never fight again, he was given another shot, so he stepped into the octagon opposite Rich (Ace) Franklin in the main event of UFC 115 last night in Vancouver.
Unfortunately for Liddell, history has a nasty way of repeating itself.
Liddell came out guns blazing against Franklin (28-5). The two went toe-to-toe in an entertaining scrap. Towards the end of the first round, they began to swing for the fences. Franklin, who broke his left arm earlier in the fight, caught Liddell clean on the chin with a counter right hook and it was lights out for The Iceman.
While Liddell's post-UFC 97 "retirement" was bittersweet, last night's loss was just depressing. Once again, he was put to sleep in spectacular fashion.
Liddell has left behind one of the most storied legacies in UFC history. He fought through the early days, when many considered MMA human cockfighting. He rose up through the ranks to capture the light-heavyweight championship, putting together a legendary series of knockout victories. He also became one of the first true rock stars of the sport in North America.
However, if he is allowed to fight again in the future, something is seriously wrong with the UFC.
Liddell went into the fight in great shape and still has incredible KO power, but his style leaves him open for big counters. His chin just can't take the shots anymore.
Retiring – permanently – following the bout with Rua (19-4) would have been the smart thing for Liddell to do. Walking away from the sport after getting viciously knocked out by Franklin is the only thing left to do.
CRO COP CHOKES OUT BARRY
In an exciting co-main event, Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic weathered the early storm to pull off the come-from-behind submission victory against Pat (HD) Barry.
Barry (5-2) dropped Filipovic (27-7-2) twice in the first round, but never followed him to the ground.
It seems hero worship got the better of Barry, who didn't take advantage of two opportunities to finish the bout early. Soon after, the fighters were laughing together and even embraced in the middle of the cage. At that moment you could see the wind leave Barry's sails.
Filipovic came out strong in the second round and began to loosen up in his striking. He also took advantage of Barry's grappling weaknesses, clinching him against the cage and delivering shots to the legs and body.
With little time left in the third round, Filipovic got on top of a tired Barry and secured the rear-naked choke for the win.
This was the last fight on Filipovic's current contract with the UFC. Nothing has been announced, but it's hard to imagine both parties not agreeing to a new deal.
In an odd choice, Filipovic was awarded "Submission of the Night" for getting Barry to tap out. Though he looked impressive, there were other, better submissions on the show – namely, Mike (Quicksand) Pyle's beautiful triangle choke on Jesse (The Ox) Lennox.
Franklin took home "Knockout of the Night" for his destruction of Liddell.
Carlos (Natural Born Killer) Condit and Rory MacDonald secured "Fight of the Night" honours.
MacDonald (10-1) outworked Condit (25-5) for two rounds and seemed well on his way to victory. However, Condit turned it on in the third and punished the B.C. native with strikes on the ground until the referee called the bout.
FULL UF 115 RESULTS
- Rich Franklin def. Chuck Liddell by first-round knockout
- Mirko Filipovic def. Pat Barry by third-round submission (rear-naked choke)
- Martin Kampmann def. Paulo Thiago by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ben Rothwell def. Gilbert Yvel by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Carlos Condit def. Rory Macdonald by third-round TKO
- Evan Dunham def. Tyson Griffin by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
- Matt Wiman def. Mac Danzig by first-round submission (guillotine choke)
- Mario Miranda def. David Loiseau by second-round TKO
- James Wilks def. Peter Sobotta by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Claude Patrick def. Ricardo Funch by second-round submission (guillotine choke)
- Mike Pyle def. Jesse Lennox by third-round technical submission (triangle choke)