UFC 88 from Atlanta, GA is now in the books and we were treated to an exciting night of action including Chuck Liddell getting viciously KO’d by Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin making a successful return to 205 lbs., and Dan Henderson recording his first victory inside the Octagon since returning to the UFC. Let’s get to breaking down the action…
Is Chuck Liddell done?
Is he done fighting? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. Chuck loves to fight, he’s very exciting, and he will do this until his body tells him that he can’t do it anymore. But one would certainly have to think that he’s done competing for the light heavyweight championship. With as stacked as the 205 lbs. division is in the UFC right now it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be able to work his way back into a situation where he gets a crack at the title. He would have to win at least two, if not three fights in a row, and they would have to be against legitimate contenders. That is, unless the UFC fast tracks him back to a title shot which is entirely likely (see: Brock Lesnar). Chuck’s knockout loss ruined a big money fight with Forrest Griffin in December but I don’t think he’s done fighting by any means. For Liddell now, it’s all about pride.
We were all wrong about Rashad Evans.
Every one of us was mistaken about Rashad Evans. He used a perfect gameplan, frustrating Liddell and making Liddell engage instead of the other way around. And when Evans finally picked his spot, he knocked Liddell out cold. Every “expert” in MMA called this one for Liddell and it couldn’t have gone worse for the former champion. Rashad Evans is very, very legitimate. He is now 17-0-1, extremely athletic, possesses big knockout power, and can wrestle with the best of them. He is a very legitimate threat to Forrest Griffin’s title, whether we want to admit it or not. Sorry for underestimating you, Rashad. By shocking the world tonight you have assured that we won’t do it again.
Rich Franklin’s future is at 205 lbs.
185 lbs. should no longer be a thought in Franklin’s mind. The matchups at 205 lbs. are so much more intriguing for him at this point in his career. That’s where the money matchups are right now for him. At 185 he has nothing to do but be the gatekeeper for who gets to get the piss beat out of them by Anderson Silva next. That’s a role that he obviously doesn’t cherish. He proved tonight that he can hang with and beat a big, strong, 205 lbs. wrestler with a good chin and heavy hands and that should be enough to convince him to stay at that weight class. Obviously he’ll do whatver Zuffa tells him to do but it’s evident that 205 lbs. is where he belongs right now, not because that’s the best weight for him but because that’s where his talents and his marketability is best used right now. Fights with Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, a rematch with Lyoto Machida, Wanderlei Silva, the list goes on. Those are big money fights and fights that will sell PPVs. Even the fight with Dan Henderson can still take place at 205 lbs. as that is the weight that Henderson prefers to fight at. After tonight it should be clear to everyone that Franklin’s future is at 205.
What’s next for Dan Henderson?
Dan Henderson did what he needed to do to survive against Rousimar Palhares tonight. Palhares was about as tough of an opponent as you could give Henderson in his third fight since returning to the Octagon. Especially considering that his first two fights were against Quinton Jackson and Anderson Silva. Rousimar Palhares was no cupcake for Henderson and he had Henderson in trouble a couple of times throughout the fight. Henderson didn’t look overly impressive tonight and almost got caught a couple of times but he did what was needed to get the win and keep afloat in the UFC. The question now becomes where does he go from here? I don’t see Henderson beating Anderson Silva even if he does want the rematch. A fight with Franklin makes sense but at what weight? Now that Henderson has that win under his belt he’s sort of at a crossroads as to where to go with his career.
Nate Marquardt looked fantastic.
Marquardt absolutely steamrolled Martin Kampmann tonight and didn’t waste any time doing it. Kampmann is known for his striking and Marquardt never even let him get started in that regard, taking it to the Dane from the time the bell rang. Marquardt is a very solid fighter with strong standup and a very good ground game. The problem with him is, just like Franklin, there’s a ceiling at the top of the division and his name is Anderson Silva. There’s only so far for him to go and I don’t think anyone’s interested in seeing a rematch between he and Silva. A rematch with Thales Leites, however, is in order.
Did Matt Brown get screwed?
I don’t know. It was an awfully close fight with both fighters having their moments throughout the fight. Kim definitely took round one and Brown definitely took round two. But round three was where it got really interesting. Kim had the two takedowns but was unable to do much from his position while Brown seemed to be the much more aggressive fighter and got the best of the standup. From a pure position standpoint you can make a case that Kim rightfully won the fight. I don’t think Brown got screwed. He certainly fought very valiantly, proved that he belonged in the cage with Kim, and will most certainly be back for future fights. For what it’s worth, Cecil Peoples was the only judge who had it scored for Brown.