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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The career of former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Chuck Liddell likely came to an end with only seconds left in the first round of his fight with Rich Franklin in the main event of UFC 115 on Saturday at General Motors Place.
Liddell missed a shot and Franklin came in quickly with a counter right hook that landed on the chin. Liddell, who was doing well, fell flat on his back after the hook landed. Franklin landed a powerful shot while Liddell was down, but it wasn't necessary.
Franklin's left arm was grotesquely swollen and appeared it may be broken after he blocked a kick from Liddell.
But Franklin, the former middleweight champ, didn't seem to mind, beaming after knocking out one of the UFC's legendary stars.
Liddell hadn't fought since being knocked out by Mauricio "Shogun" Rua 14 months ago in Montreal at UFC 97. It was the third time he had been knocked out, and Liddell took the time off to allow himself to recuperate.
He was scoring well on Saturday and dictating the pace of the fight. He likely would have won the first round on the judges' cards if the round finished, and he looked to apply some late damage when he was caught.
On the undercard, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic won his heavyweight battle with Pat Barry, who made no secret of his admiration for the PRIDE veteran. Filipovic forced a submission with a rear naked choke with 30 seconds left in the fight.
Barry made many fans before the fight by admitting his admiration for Filipovic, but in the first round he went after his idol and knocked him down twice and was in control of the fight.
But Barry's conditioning seemed to fail him and Filipovic picked up the pace in the second, stopping Barry's onslaught and forcing him into a defensive mode.
In the third, Filipovic took over and was catching Barry with fast combinations, forcing Barry to retreat. With about a minute left, a combination from Filipovic knocked Barry down. Filipovic landed a series of hard punches on the ground and referee Yves Lavigne seemed on the verge of stopping it.
But Barry turned away from Filipovic, who took advantage and slapped the fight-ending choke on Barry.
Canadian Rory MacDonald, at 20 years old the UFC's youngest fighter, got a hero's welcome from the raucous GM Place crowd and then performed brilliantly through the first two rounds against former World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight champion Carlos Condit.
But Condit took over in the third round and began to rock MacDonald with hard punches. In the final seconds of the fight, MacDonald was on his back and Condit was pounding him with blows. With just 10 seconds left in the fight, referee Kevin Dornan jumped in to stop it.
Two of the judges had MacDonald up 20-18 at the time of the stop. The third had it a draw, 19-19. If the judges would have scored the fight 10-8 for Condit, as it appeared they might, the fight would have wound up a majority draw.
MacDonald didn't complain about the stoppage.
"I was confused," he said. "I was taking some good shots. I was lost. I just couldn't find my rhythm."
Ben Rothwell managed to control Gilbert Yvel in most of all three rounds and won a unanimous decision over the Dutchman in an entertaining heavyweight bout.
Martin Kampmann moved closer to a bout for the No. 1 contender position in the UFC's welterweight division with a solid victory over Paulo Thiago. Kampmann was brilliant in neutralizing Thiago's punching power and controlling him on the ground.