With one crisp right hand, Rich Franklin may have driven the final nail into the storied career of UFC hall of famer Chuck Liddell. And he did so with only one good limb.
Having suffered an apparent broken arm while absorbing a kick, Franklin knocked out Liddell with a counterpunch 4:55 into round one in the UFC 115 “Liddell vs. Franklin” headliner on Saturday at the General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“The game plan was to not stand in front of him, which I started to do a little bit,” Franklin said. “Keep the lead hand active. Once he kicked me in that arm and I could feel the arm clicking -- I looked down at my forearm one time to kind of check it -- it took me out of my game a little bit. It really did. He caught me there at the end, had me back against the fence, but I just kept my cover tight and tried swinging. Things landed.”
Perhaps the greatest light heavyweight in the history of the sport, the 40-year-old Liddell has lost three consecutive fights, all by knockout. He had not appeared inside the Octagon in 14 months and had already been urged to retire by longtime friend and UFC President Dana White.
Franklin tasted Liddell’s legendary power early, as he wobbled on the end of a right hand. However, he kept his nose in the fight. Near the end of the first round, Liddell backed the former middleweight champion against the cage, overcommitted on an overhand right and left himself wide open for the counter.
“The thing about Chuck,” Franklin said, “when he gets you on the run, he really, really overcommits on things.”
Franklin sprang his trap beautifully and crumpled “The Iceman” with a tight right hook to the face. Subsequent punches followed but were not needed. Liddell was done, perhaps for good.
‘Cro Cop’ Submits Barry
Patrick Barry let Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic off the hook, and he paid a heavy price in the co-main event.
Filipovic weathered a pair of first-round knockdowns, waited for Barry to tire and made the most of the opportunities when they presented themselves. The 2006 Pride Fighting Championships open weight grand prix winner flurried on Barry in the third round, as he peppered the New Orleans native with accurate and powerful strikes before submitting him with a rear-naked choke 4:30 into round three.
“He caught me twice,” Filipovic said. “The first one wasn’t so hard. I fell down on my ass, but I felt nothing almost. The second one was good. I had double vision for a few seconds, but I managed to survive.”
It was Filipovic’s first traditional submission victory in nearly six years. The Croatian punctuated his late burst with a ringing right hand to the side of Barry’s head. The Duke Roufus protégé, his offense in steep decline after the opening five minutes, fell where he stood, and Filipovic went to work against the cage. Ultimately, he transitioned to Barry’s back, cinched the choke, minus the hooks, and solicited the tapout.
“He made space for me to choke him,” Filipovic said, “and I just choked him.”
Kampmann Dominates Thiago
Kampmann attacked Thiago with straight punches from the start, sprawled when needed and short-circuited the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s efforts at virtually every turn. Based at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas, Kampmann threatened with various chokes in all three rounds and closed the fight in style, as he trapped a fading Thiago, his right eye badly swollen, in a textbook arm-triangle choke in the center of the cage.
A former Cage Warriors middleweight champion, Kampmann outstruck, outgrappled and outfought Thiago, who entered the Octagon on the strength of his submission victory against Mike Swick at UFC 109. Kampmann, 28, has rattled off four wins in his past five appearances.
“I wanted to be a bit more hesitant with my striking,” he said. “Usually, I have a habit of just going straightforward and swinging for the fences, and it makes for some great fights for the fans … but sometimes you have to be smart with a guy like that.”
Rothwell Outpoints Yvel
Ben Rothwell grinded down Gilbert Yvel in a sloppy and forgettable 15-minute heavyweight encounter, as the one-time International Fight League standout earned a unanimous decision and notched his first victory inside the UFC. Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Rothwell, who has posted 15 wins in his last 17 appearances.
Rothwell scored with one takedown after another on the Dutch striker and mounted him five times in their match. Yvel fought with vigor from the bottom, reversing his foe with brute strength in the first and second rounds. His chances at victory evaporated in round two, when he failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity. Yvel swept Rothwell from the bottom with an Americana and battered him with strikes from the top. He could not put away Rothwell, however, and by the start of round three, it was clear fatigue had gotten the best of him.
The 28-year-old Rothwell worked from top position for most of the final five minutes, trapped Yvel in a topside crucifix and put his stamp on the victory.
Condit Strikes Late, Stops MacDonald
Former World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight champion Carlos Condit, perhaps down two rounds on the scorecards, brutalized Rory MacDonald with a poisonous ground-and-pound blend of elbows, hammerfists and punches en route to a technical knockout victory. The end came with just seven seconds left in the fight.
“It was really close, too close for comfort,” Condit said. “Rory’s a great fighter, and he’s got a lot of great fights in front of him. I’m sure he’ll come back from this. I didn’t know how many seconds were left. I was just working. I think I caught him with something standing, and then, when I was on the ground, I was able to kind of dominate a bit.”
MacDonald pressured Condit for much of the first two rounds, as he worked effectively from the outside and from the clinch. A British Columbia native, he scored with three takedowns in the opening period but failed to keep Condit grounded and never threatened to finish.
Condit took a tongue-lashing from trainer Greg Jackson prior to the third round and stormed off his stool with a sense of desperation. He tagged the 20-year-old MacDonald with a right hand, swarmed him to the ground and unleashed a devastating series of blows that carved up the former King of the Cage champion.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what was going on,” said MacDonald, the youngest fighter on the active UFC roster. “I thought [it was] the end of the round until they called the TKO, but it was a just stoppage. He was kicking my ass.”
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