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Mailbag: Liddell still dominates conversation

You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White said Monday that he wasn't going to sit and wait to see if a poor ticket situation would get better and made the decision to move UFC on Versus 2, which had been scheduled on Aug. 1 in Salt Lake City, to San Diego.

White would not reveal the exact number of tickets sold.

"It was bad, real bad," White said. "Do you think I wanted to do this? It was like a Strikeforce event [in terms of ticket sales]. But I wasn't going to sit around and wait."

Fans can get refunds on their tickets, but Ticketmaster won't refund the "convenience fee" that it charges customers.

So, for the few folks who did buy tickets, they're going to be out the convenience fee. It's an outrageous add-on to a ticket price to begin with, but given that so few tickets were sold and the promoter was the one who canceled the event, the fan should not have to swallow that cost.

Ticketmaster should do the right thing and refund 100 percent of every ticket buyer's money in this case.

With that, let's delve into a very busy mailbag, where I address many points arising out of Saturday's UFC 115 in Vancouver.

Liddell lost on illegal blow

Kevin, I was wondering if you saw the last blow in the Chuck Liddell-Rich Franklin fight on Saturday at UFC 115? If you happened to record it as I did, you can see that however unintentional it may have been, the blow that knocked Chuck out was a blow to the back of the head. That is clearly an illegal blow and I personally think that UFC president Dana White should have that fight reviewed and give Chuck and Rich a chance to fight without any illegal shots to the back of the head. What do you think?

Brandy Matney
Morehead, Ky.

Thanks for the question, Brandy. I just watched the fight again to see if I could see what you saw. The blow that knocked Liddell out was a short right hand from Franklin. After it landed, Franklin threw a left that went over the top of Liddell's head, but it did not land. Liddell was out almost instantly from the Franklin right.

Chuck wasn't always the guns blazing type he has been in the last few years. He was more defensive and more of a counter-puncher earlier in his career. I think his ego probably held him back as much as his chin in his most recent fights. After people spoke of him not being able to take a punch like he used to, he started becoming more aggressive, almost trying to knock them out to prove a point. Sadly, if he wasn't so aggressive in this fight, he would have easily won. There is no way Franklin could have won the second or third rounds with his arm getting worse and worse. I mourn the end of an era. I can't help but keep saying to myself "If Chuck only fought a little smarter in this one."

John Lewis
Phoenix

John, I don't think people started talking about Chuck's chin until after the loss to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 97, so any change you perceive would not have been visible until Saturday. Did Chuck get right-hand crazy late in his career? Sure. I think he would have been better off mixing up his game more, but he was doing just that in the fight with Franklin. The problem is that Chuck is at a point where he can't take a hard, clean shot any more. He was a very good offensive fighter on Saturday, but his chin betrayed him. It's time for him to move on.

Not the striker he's made out to be

I am not trying to take anything away from Chuck because he is the greatest light heavyweight and one of the greats of all-time. However, is it possible that he may have been a little overrated as a standup fighter? Looking at his record, he made a career using his excellent takedown defense to stuff wrestlers/jiu-jitsu fighters. When he fought other strikers, however, got defeated or was knocked out most of the time. He beat Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva, and Alistair Overeem before he was really the Overeem of today. So, is it possible his stand-up may have been somewhat overrated and that he benefited from fighting mostly wrestlers with average to above average standup?

Donnie Howard
Chattanooga, Tenn.

I think the No. 1 reason why Chuck was so great was he was such a hard puncher. He had a superb chin, wonderful takedown defense and solid jiu-jitsu. He was a well-rounded fighter. His striking wasn't the most technically proficient, Donnie, but his punching power separated him from the rest of the pack.

Age caught up with a legend

It was a great fight. I feel the same way about Chuck Liddell. He went out with a bang. Yes, he was in the best shape of his life, but you can't stop getting old. Your bones are not as strong as they are in your 20s. If he could have lasted another five seconds, I think because of Franklin's broken arm, Liddell would have won the fight. You can only take so much pain until your brain says you have had enough. But it was that right hand that hit Liddell in the right spot. No, he was not lucky. Liddell that walked right into it. Chuck will always be looked at as the best of the best. That's my story. Damn good fight. Thanks to both Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin.

Kenny
Grapevine, Texas

Liddell had a great career and has rightly received a tremendous amount of praise, but lost in all this, it should be pointed out that Franklin deserves much credit and respect. In watching the replay, it appears he broke his left arm blocking a Liddell kick just 1:03 into the fight. You could see him briefly shake it at that point, yet he continued to fight hard the rest of the way. It was an important fight for his career, as well, and he came through big big time. You're right to congratulate both men because Franklin has kind of gotten lost in the shuffle here. Imagine what a letdown it would have been for everyone involved had Franklin quit after breaking that arm.

Thanks for showing respect

Dear Kevin, I very much enjoyed your article with respect to Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin. I have long been a fan of MMA and of Liddell and Franklin. It was greatly appreciated that you wrote the article in regard to Chuck on a "high note" and kept it in a positive light stating, that it was time for Chuck to retire and that he had a storied career instead of saying he is a washed-up bum who should have hung it up long ago. It always brings a smile to my face whenever a journalist writes about combat sports with knowledge and speaks of them in a good way. I thank you as a fighter and a fan.

Michael Tucker
Willow Grove, Pa.

Thanks, Michael. Chuck comported himself with class throughout his career and earned everything he got.

Age had nothing to do with Liddell loss

I believe it's unfair to say that Liddell got old and his chin betrayed him. He didn't lose because of a lack of conditioning or strength. He made a mistake and age has nothing to do with it. I'm sure Randy Couture would agree.

Carlos Diaz
Houston

Chuck is old in a fighting sense, though Couture is a rare exception. But Chuck has had multiple concussions. NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Steve Young had to retire early because of multiple concussions. Getting knocked out gives one a concussion and once you begin to accumulate concussions, you become much more vulnerable. I know this can't be proven, but it's my belief that, although the knockout punch was hard and was right on the button, the Liddell of four or five years ago would have taken it and kept fighting. At this stage, he's getting knocked out by those blows.

'Cro Cop' didn't deserve bonus

I'm a huge Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic fan, but I was a little unhappy with his being awarded the Submission of the Night bonus after campaigning for it in the Octagon after his fight. I didn't get to see the entire card, so I missed some of the early submissions, but I did see Mike Pyle's triangle on Jesse Lennox, which I thought was clearly more deserving. Cro Cop fought a great fight, but slapping a rear naked choke on a punch-drunk opponent who was barely defending himself while on his knees against the cage is about the most mundane submission finish imaginable, whereas Pyle pulled out a lightning-fast and technically strong submission in the waning seconds of a fight he might otherwise have lost. I don't know how bonus decisions get made or whether Cro Cop's campaigning had any effect on them, but with his contract up and the UFC looking to re-sign him following his win, I wonder whether someone didn't decide to throw him a bone to grease the wheels on his contract negotiations. If so, it seems especially unfair since $85,000 means a heck of a lot more to an undercard fighter than to someone like Mirko. If I were Mike Pyle, I'd be a little unhappy right now.

Christian Tarsney
Minneapolis

The bonus easily could have gone to Pyle, but it's often that way that the stars get the bonuses if it's close. That's one of the perks of being a star. I think the UFC was rewarding Cro Cop as much for the way he handled his immigration issues and the way he dealt with the media than anything else. He was detained at the border by Canadian authorities for about seven hours and questioned extensively about his role as an anti-terrorist police officer in Croatia. Then, he was charming with the media. I think those issues played as much of a role in the bonus as his choke of Pat Barry.

'Cro Cop's' future

There have been reports in the Croatian media that Cro Cop is retiring and that he made that decision before he took the trip to Vancouver. It's odd because at the post-fight conference both Mirko and Dana said they would like to talk contract extension. Do you have the scoop on this, Kevin?

Ian Miller
Houston

I expect he will fight again, though he's obviously free to change his mind.

Is Sonnen a contender?

What are your thoughts on Chael Sonnen as a legitimate middleweight contender? I know champion Anderson Silva has cleaned out the division several times over, but I have a hard time believing Chael Sonnen's trash talk as a method to hype this obvious mismatch. Sonnen has beaten mostly journeyman-type fighters and he's lost to the likes of Jeremy Horn twice. Isn't the UFC stretching a bit to consider this a viable matchup to sell to the fans? I'm concerned we're heading down the path of fake "grudge matches" to sell PPV versus pursuing the best possible fights.

Matthew Clark
Chicago

Matthew, I hate phony grudge matches as much or more than anyone. That said, Sonnen did defeat Nate Marquardt decisively to earn the No. 1 spot. He doesn't have the most glittering record of any title challenger, but he has some quality wins, including wins over Dan Miller, Yushin Okami and Marquardt in his last three fights. I don't think there's anyone else now. He's pitching hard to try to pump up the pay-per-view. He's good at it, and the UFC is good at exploiting such situations, so I suspect that by the time the show comes on Aug. 7, it will do a solid pay-per-view number.

Refereeing horrible in Vancouver

Am I missing something, or were there some very horrible refereeing decisions made during UFC 115? The Mac Danzig "submission" was ridiculous, the stoppage for an illegal upkick during the Claude Patrick/Ricardo Funch fight was stupid, and the stoppage during the Rory MacDonald fight, while merciful, was a little much. There was only nine seconds left and Carlos Condit had stopped punching at the point the ref stepped in. I think there should be an MMA world commission of some sort that licenses specifically MMA refs and judges. I know there are athletic commissions, but so many refs are terrible. Yves Lavigne specifically needs to take a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class because I've seen him stop more than one fight like he did Saturday. What do you think?

Aaron
California

I think the officiating was terrible in Vancouver and this is coming from a person who usually staunchly supports the officials. The most egregious was the failure of Tony Williamson to stop the Mario Miranda-David Loiseau fight in a timely manner. Miranda was pummeling Loiseau on the ground and Williamson allowed Loiseau to take way, way too much punches before he finally stopped it. The call in the MacDonald fight was fine, though, because fighter safety has to come first. Even MacDonald had no problem with it. In the big picture, though, MMA badly needs to develop more quality referees, and soon.