Chuck Lidell walks a little groggy towards the locker room with a tissue on his bloodied nose. A mixture of disbelief and some taste of reality. UFC 115 was supposed to be his homecoming, his graceful exit or a strong statement that he is definitely back in the crop of the MMA superstar circle he wanted to be like his forty something buddy Randy Couture who will also be headlining UFC 118 against a former boxing champion James “lights out” Toney but the only difference is that Couture have been 2-2 on his last four fights winning against Mark Coleman and Brandon Vera while Lidell is 1-3 before fighting Rich Franklin with 2 defeats came from knockouts. It’s the same old story for fighters going past their prime looking for that one big fight and one big chance and for most of them they stumbled into a one big hole.
Rich Franklin was Chuck’s golden ticket he was only 5 years younger and a former middleweight champion who had been struggling while moving up in the light heavy weight division (2-2); a division Chuck have grown his roots since he made a name for himself. Rich is already a household name in MMA and he is a game fighter who doesn’t back out in any fight be it on the octagon or the streets and Chuck knows Franklin’s all out offense is susceptible to his vaunted power punching. The story has been laid out the only difference was Franklin followed the wrong script. Chuck was leading for the most part as Franklin broke his left arm in the first round after blocking a kick from Lidell. As Chuck came on charging missing a shot and Franklin countered with a right hook straight to his chin and Chuck went flat on his back. It was Lidell’s number one asset before when he took Noe Hernandez’s best shot on an overhand right on his UFC debut way back in 1998 it landed straight on his chin and Chuck walked right through it that change the complexion of the fight and now it’s the same strength that slowly betrayed him. Those last two fights against Mauricio Rua and Rashad Evans were both chin shots and both fights Chuck laid flat on his back. Chuck worked hard to strengthen his chin before UFC 115 “I didn’t spar for all that time to give myself a rest and, hopefully, the chin is back,” Liddell said in Yahoo’s Iole column. “They say you can recover it and so hopefully I did. And I’m working hard to try to protect it a little better, too.” But there is no remedy for a glassy chin it’s like a broken vase that no matter how you put it back together it’s still not the same…
All Rich Franklin had to do is find that chin and with a broken arm he only needs one shot to call it the night… Chuck Lidell got back up and walks groggy towards his dressing room nursing a bleeding nose he knows this would be his last fight and as he walks through the crowd still shouting and praising his name going through the tunnel towards the locker room as the last flicker of bright lights hover around Chuck’s ailing body… he knows it’s the end of the tunnel for him and a start of a new beginning.
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