Chuck Liddell loves to fight. Even after losing four of five, including a couple by brutal knockout, Liddell can't be kept away from the Octagon by Dana White. The UFC president tried to retire Liddell last April. But anyone close to Liddell knew that wasn't going to fly. The guy loves to compete. He won a $10,000 weight-loss bet with White and then went on "Dancing With The Stars." When those little hobbies went bye-bye it was time to address the fight desires again. White worked it out so Liddell could coach on "The Ultimate Fighter" and face his mortal enemy Tito Ortiz. Ortiz has gone down with a neck injury but don't think Liddell is unmotivated for Rich Franklin. We're not so sure we can say the same about Franklin's desire to fight Liddell.
Franklin is a pretty docile and introverted guy so maybe we shouldn't too much into his tone coming into UFC 115's main event this weekend. But the talk of being a company man and having lost desire to fight before and after his loss to Vitor Belfort, makes you think.
"Dana called me and informed me that Tito had pulled out of the fight due to an injury to his neck or something like that and asked me if I would come out to Vegas to finish taping the show, the last week of the show with Chuck," said Franklin, talking about the offer to fill in for Ortiz. "I didn’t plan on being able to come in, in the position I’m in now, coaching the show and fighting Chuck and all that kind of stuff. So pretty much I’m just kind of the type of person that does what the UFC needs but we’ve been putting in the direction of 205 and my plan is to stay there."
That sounds fine and Franklin has always been a company guy but this is beginning to sound like a pattern.
"I was looking for some time off after the Wanderlei fight last year (in June of 2009) and of course UFC after the 100 show really left themselves kind of barren with nobody to headline their show," said Franklin. "And they needed me for 103 and although I would have rather taken some time off at that point in time, you know they called me and asked me to take this fight. And I said yes in September so after the September show even though the UFC had called me a couple times asking me to fight again I still said no."
When the promotion called this time looking for help, Franklin felt like it was the right time. Let's hope so. His mental approach before UFC 103 didn't give him much of a chance to beat Belfort.
"I think that that fight was lost before the fight even began," said Franklin. "Just the fact that I was, I was mentally cached and when we start coming into the gym and the moment you walk in you look at the clock and count down the minutes so the time that you leave, that’s never a good thing."
Franklin, 35, said he was mentally burned out and was dealing with nagging bumps and bruises.
"Training for Wanderlei for example I had jammed two fingers that, and I couldn’t even make a complete fist and then after that fight of course I had to go back into another camp unable to make, you know, to make a tight fist and throw punches properly.
"And you have little, little kind of lingering things like that that add up and it gets to the point where your body just physically feels run down and you need some time to kind of reset a little bit."
Franklin and Liddell (21-7, 16-6 UFC) have crossed paths as friends in the past and neither was seeking this fight but now it's time to be professionals and put on a show for the first-timers in Vancouver. Liddell's back is against the wall and looks to be in great shape. On the other hand is Franklin all the way back mentally? We'll find out Saturday night.