UFC News: Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell May Fight in June

It does not appear to have taken long to determine Randy Couture’s next opponent.  It is very possible that he could next take on Chuck Liddell for a fourth time inside the octagon.  I do not know if I like this fight.  It would be exciting, but why a fourth match?  And why put your two biggest stars who are both knocking on retirement’s door against one another in the octagon?  A loss would essentially end the career of the a guy.  The rumor is that the fight would occur at heavyweight and would take place at a June event in Germany.  The fight may very well happen, but I am surprised that it is going to be June and not sooner like April or May.   Also, this could silence the rumors of a potential Liddell vs. Anderson Silva match in February. Check out what MMAJunkie had to say

After competing in three legendary light-heavyweight fights, former UFC champions Randy Couture (16-9 MMA, 13-6 UFC) and Chuck Liddell (21-6 MMA, 16-5 UFC) could now meet during a heavyweight encounter at a June 13 event in Cologne, Germany.

The report comes from the U.K.-based The Sun, which cites UFC officials as saying Liddell has been offered the heavyweight main event.

Couture recently lost his heavyweight belt to Brock Lesnar at UFC 91. Liddell, meanwhile, has dropped three of his four past fights at light heavyweight, but he’s made no public statement regarding a potential move up to heavyweight.

A source told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Couture is open to a fourth Liddell fight, but we’ve been unable to confirm is the fight has been offered to Liddell.

With the event apparently in the works for Germany, it should come as little surprise that the UFC invited a small contingent of German press to UFC 91 to see Couture’s main event with Lesnar. The 45-year-old Couture speaks German and has long been considered a likely headliner once the UFC does head to Germany, a market UFC officials have continually mentioned as a site for future expansion.

Couture and Liddell took part in a popular trilogy of fights that played out between 2003 and 2006. Couture scored a third-round TKO at UFC 43 to win the first match-up for the interim heavyweight title (former champ Tito Ortiz had been stripped of the title), but the 38-year-old Liddell won back the belt and made a successful title defense over Couture with knockout wins at UFC 52 and UFC 57.

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Breaking Down the UFC Light Heavyweight Division

The Champion: Forrest Griffin

The Top Contender: Rashad Evans

The Next Tier:

·         Wanderlei Silva

·         Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

·         Lyoto Machida

·         Thiago Silva

·         Rich Franklin

·         Dan Henderson

·         Keith Jardine

·         Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

·         Chuck Liddell

·         Luis Arthur Cane

·         Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

 

On the Rise: 

·         Luis Arthur Cane

 

Other Notables:

·         Brandon Vera

·         Mat Hamill

·         Stephan Bonnar

·         Jon Jones

·         Tim Boetsch

·         Steve Cantwell

·         Brian Stann

·         James Irvin

·         Eric Schafer

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Steve Cantwell vs. Razak Al-Hussan at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans @ UFC 92 on December 28 (For Title)

·         Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Matt Hamill vs. Reese Andy @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson @ UFC 93 on January

·         Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Mark Coleman @ UFC 93 on January 17

·         Andre Gusmao vs. Antonio Mendes @ UFC 93 on January 17

·         Ivan Serati vs. Tomasz Drwal @ UFC 93 on January 17

·         Jon Jones vs. Stephan Bonnar @ UFC 93 on January 17

·         Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva @ UFC 94 on January 31

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Luis Cane vs. Keith Jardine

·         Brandon Vera vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

 

Other Thoughts:

·         There are rumors of a Anderson Silva vs. Chuck Liddell match up at UFC 95

·         There are a lot of light heavyweight contenders and the match ups are being set.  The winner of Wanderlei vs. Rampage should get the next title shot, although the winner of Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva should be considered as well. 

·         We are waiting for the debut of rumored UFC signee Glover Teixeira who has been having visa troubles in Brazil. 

·         The UFC could sign former EliteXC light heavyweight Rafael Feijao, which would be a big time contender.

·         The UFC has a clear monopoly on the light heavyweight division.  There are only a few fighters worth a  dime in this division not in the UFC (Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Vladimir Matyushenko, Ricardo Arona, Tito Ortiz, and Renato “Babalu” Sobral)

·         I looks like two solid light heavyweights have dropped to middleweight in Goran Reljic and Wilson Gouveia

·         The Ultimate Fighter 8 which featured light heavyweights is sure to place a few good fighters in the divison, but it will take time for them to climb the ladder.  Watch out for guys like Ryan Bader, Vinny Magalhes, Kryztof Soszynski, and Eliot Marshall.

·         It is somewhat possible to see Randy Couture take a few fights at light heavyweight and also to see Anderson Silva fight at 205 more often in 2009

 

MMABlog’s Light Heavyweight MMA Rankings

 

Here are my 205’ers.  The UFC clearly has the deepest and best pool of 205 lb fighters.  I only see a couple of non-UFC fighters being top 25 material. 

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

Forrest Griffin

UFC

Evans (#6), 12/27

2

Quinton Jackson

UFC

W. Silva (#4) 12/27

3

Lyoto Machida

UFC

T. Silva (#10) 1/31

4

Wanderlei Silva

UFC

Jackson (#2) 12/27

5

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

UFC

Coleman (NR), 1/17

6

Rashad Evans

UFC

Griffin (#1), 12/27

7

Dan Henderson

UFC

Franklin (#12), 1/17

8

Keith Jardine

UFC

 

9

Chuck Liddell

UFC

 

10

Thiago Silva

UFC

Machida (#3), 1/31

11

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Affliction

Moisa (NR), 11/3

12

Rich Franklin

UFC

Henderson (#7), 1/17

13

Brandon Vera

UFC

 

14

Vladimir Matyushenko

Affliction

 

15

Luiz Cane

UFC

 

16

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

UFC

 

17

Ricardo Arona

 

 

18

Renato “Babalu” Sobral

Affliction

Southworth (NR), 11/21

19

Matt Hamill

UFC

Andy (NR), 12/27

20

Tito Ortiz

 

 

21

Rafael Feijao

EliteXC?

 

22

Steve Cantwell

UFC

Al-Hussan (NR), 12/10

23

Stephan Bonnar

UFC

Jones (NR), 1/31

24

James Irvin

UFC

 

25

Brian Stann

UFC

 

Also considered: Jon Jones, Tim Boetsch, Bobby Southworth, Mark Coleman (Didn’t include him because he hasn’t fought again.  He probably is top 25 material)

UFC 88 Fighter Salaries

Chuck Liddell – $500,000

Dan Henderson – $250,000

Rashad Evans – $180,000 (Includes $60,000 KO of the Night Bonus and $60,000 win bonus)

Jason MacDonald – $104,000 (Includes $60,000 Submission of the Night Bonus)

Rich Franklin – $100,000

Kurt Pellegrino – $84,000 (Includes $60,000 Fight of the Night Bonus)

Thiago Tavares – $73,000 (Includes $60,000 Fight of the Night Bonus)

Nate Marquardt -$56,000

Dong Hyun Kim – $46,000

Ryo Chonan – $30,000

Jason Lambert – $17,000

Tim Boetsch – $16,000

Martin Kampmann – $15,000

Matt Hamill – $10,000

Roan Carneiro – $9,000

Matt Brown – $8,000

Rousimar Palhares – $7,000

Mike Patt – $5,000

The Title Picture in the UFC Light Heavweight Divison

In my previous post about the title picture in the UFC heavyweight divison I mentioned how the UFC’s match making has caused problems in the title picture.  The same is true of the light heavyweight divison.  Okay, Forrest Griffin is now the light heavyweight champion.  The question should be who gets the next title shot and what is the order of contenders.  The UFC made clear that if Chuck Liddell beat Rashad Evans at UFC 88 then he would fight Forrest Griffin in December for the title.  However, Rashad Evans played spolier and ruined the potential blockbuster fight.  Very quickly, the UFC gave Rashad the title shot for December.  Kudos to rashad for a big win, but most people would agree that even with the win over Liddell he was not the number one contender.  I believe that distinction has to go to Lyoto Machida who has notable UFC victories over Sokoudjou and Tito Ortiz.  I have no problem with saying Machida needs one more win, but he better not be ignored.  I have heard that he isn’t getting the shot first because guys don’t want to fight him and secondly because he has limited marketability.  So, what other options are there?  Here are my rankings in order of who I feel the contenders are right now.  I see 4 guys right now at the top of the heap that could get a title shot without much complaint from me.  Some like Rich Franklin may need one more win…

1. Lyoto Machida

2. Quinton Jackson

3. Wanderlei Silva

4. Rich Franklin

Needs one more win…

4. Rashad Evans

5. Thiago Silva

6. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

7. Chuck Liddell

Guys who could earn their way into contention soon…

8. Brandon Vera

9. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

10. Keith Jardine

The problem is booking.  Several of these guys are booked for fights.  It seems Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva will square off November 15th, surely the winner of that fight will get a title shot.  Lyoto Machida was to face Thiago Silva, with the winner surely getting a title shot soon, however Silva pulled out leaving Machida opponent-less.  Shogun is waiting for a December opponent…possibly Chuck Liddell.  Keith Jardine is fighting Brandon Vera and Sokoudjou is fighting Luiz Cane at UFC 89.  That leaves Rich Franklin, Lyoto Machida, and Rashad Evans available for the title shot in December.  The UFC chose Evans, the weakest of the possible opponents for Griffin.  The heap is big and growing.  Contenders need to keep winning.  It looked like 2009 will see Machida get his title shot, but he may need two more wins.  Wanderlei or Jackson may get the next shot in the spring of ’09.  Rich Franklin could work his way in the mix too.  The picture won’t clear up either with a lot of solid guys in the top 15.

Why Did Chuck Liddell Lose to Rashad Evans?

I believe there are several answers people might give as to why Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell got beat by Rashad Evans.  Chuck would just say that he “got caught”.  I would say there is more to it than that. 

Perhaps Chuck Liddell lost because he is a one dimensional fighter who is a legenday striker.  Perhaps Chuck Liddell lost because of his age.  Perhaps Chuck is over the hill.  I might point out that Liddell has struggled recently.  He lost to Rampage, he lost to Keith Jardine, and he beat Wanderlei Silva.  Maybe the Chuck of old is gone.  He hasn’t finished a fight in quite some time.  I would defintley suggest that Rashad Evans speed has something to do with it.  Perhaps as of today Rashad Evans is simply a better fighter than Chuck Liddell.  Perhaps it has to do with training.  Rashad has shown a willingness to learn from new trainers such as Greg Jackson.  Whereas, Chuck Liddell has been at “The Pit” with Hackleman for years.  Perhaps Liddell should be willing to try some new trainers, such as Xtreme Couture well he can develop new striking techniques and more diverse MMA skills.  Perhaps Liddell lost because of the nagging hamstring injury.   I don’t think that it is an issue, some may use it as an excuse, but it isn’t the reason.  Perhaps other fighters have Chuck Liddell’s number.  I think this is a great problem.  Liddell has one way to win and he has done well with it, but maybe he has been figured out.  Greg Jackson seems to have his number.  Leg kicks are effective on Chuck, just ask Keith Jardine.  Frustrating Chuck and making him come to you rather than allowing him to KO you while going away may work too.  Maybe Chuck needs a new game plan.  Perhaps my biggest suggestion has to do with the mental aspect of fighting.  Perhaps Chuck Liddell has gotten too big and that has in turn gone to his head.  I seriously question when fighters are more worried about careers outside the ring than fighting.  Chuck is the face of MMA.  He is a legend. He is super popular.  That in turn has led to endorsments, books, interviews, sponsors, and many other opportunities.  Perhaps Chuck has been distracted by all those things.  Perhaps he needs to refocus and not worry about advertising through human signs for his sponsors and focus more on his fighters.    Perhaps the problem is in the fact that he partys way too much, he loves the party scene.  Some say it doesn’t affect him, and maybe it didn;t before when he was younger and on top, but maybe it does now.  Maybe the fame, popularity and fun side of fighting has become his passion to the neglect of performance in the octagon.  Perhaps he has lost his drive and passion which made him so effective before in his career.  We can give numerous reasons why Chuck lost to Rashad.  Perhaps some people more knowledgable than me can give technical reasons as to why Rashad’s game plan was so effective.  However, let’s not take away from Rashad.  There may not be a clear answer.  Perhaps the answer is that Rashad just fought better, was faster, and better that night.  Give Rashad some credit.  He is super underrated.  However, I do think there are several things Chuck could do differently to still be effective in his late 30’s and even into his early 40’s.  I know some won’t like this post, but it is the truth.  I know Chuck is a fan favorite, but even his fans have to question some things about his career.  Matt Hughes loses two fights to Georges St. Pierre and Thiago Alves and everyone thinks he is done and should retire.  Chuck Liddell has lost 3 of 4 to lesser competition in his divison.  I am not saying Chuck is done.  I am saying he needs to re-think some methods.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  Perhaps the problem is in Chuck’s pride.  Maybe he thinks he is better than Jardine, better than jackson and better than Evans, but he just got caught or just had a bad night.  Maybe though the reason is deeper than that.  Liddell can still be effective as a fighter in the UFC, but he will need to reevaluate his career, training, styles, game plans, and training methods.  Rashad Evans was indeed the spoiler.  Chuck was to leap frog Lyoto Machida and get the title shot against Forrest Griffin in December with a win over Rashad.  The UFC longed for the pupil vs. teacher storyline.  Now they will get the TUF 1 winner against the TUF 2 winner.  Well done Rashad, you just beat a legend of the UFC in highlight reel form and earned a title shot.

UFC 88 Thoughts and Recap

Quick Results:

Rashad Evans def. Chuck Liddell by KO in round 2

Rich Franklin def. Matt Hamill by TKO in round 3

Dan Henderson def. Rousimar Palhares by unanimous decision

Nate Marquardt def. Martin Kampmann by TKO in round 1

Dong Hyun Kim def. Matt Brown by split decision

Jason MacDonald def. Jason Lambert by submission in round 2

Tim Boetsh def. Mike Patt by TKO in round 1

Kurt Pellegrino def. Thiago Tavares by unanimous decision

Ryo Chonan def. Roan Carneiro by split decision

Fight of the Night: Kurt Pellegrino vs. Thiago Tavares

Submission of the Night: Jason MacDonald

Knockout of the Night: Rashad Evans

My Predictions: I went 6 of 9 (I missed the Rashad Evans vs. Chuck Liddell, Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Marquardt and Kurt Pellegrino vs. Thiago Tavares fights)

My Thoughts on UFC 88:

  • Rashad Evans was impressive as heck.  I was utterly shocked.  I thought after round 1 Chuck would finish it.  Rashad looked good all round 2.  He was winning that fight even before the KO.  By the way, that was one of the most vicious KO’s I have ever seen in one punch.  That will be a highlight reel KO for years to come.  That will be knockout of the year candidate.  Rashad Evans showed he was no joke.  I don’t know if he deserves the title shot he was granted in December, but I won’t complain about it too badly.  I still think Machida deserves it.
  • Rich Franklin is back.  I love Rich Franklin.  He is a class act fighter.  He is super talented and always improving.  His striking is world class.  He is a threat in the light heavyweight divison.  There are some guys he would lose to, but I think he would beat Forrest or Rashad right now.  I am glad to see him back on track.
  • Matt Hamill looked good in the loss.  He showed he is improving his striking.  I think he still needs to rely on his bread and butter more of take downs and ground and pound, but he wants to show his striking.  Rich was just too experienced for him and found a weakness in his game and exploited it.  Hamill will be back and in my opinion he is still a top 15 light heavyweight.
  • Dan Henderson looked alright, but nothing special.  I think that is because Palhares is that good.  Palhares has a solid chin and superior submissions.  Keep his name in mind because he will be back too.
  • The most impressive performance to me was Nate Marquardt.  Nate has always had excellent grappling and submissions, but he showed versatile and skilled striking against a dangerous Kampmann.  He looked crisp and solid.  He is in the top heap at 185.  I’d love to see him fight Dan Henderson or Michael Bisping with the winner getting a title shot.  However, it may be that after Cote, Silva will get Okami.  Then Bisping is likely the next guy in line.  Then perhaps a re-match with Marquardt or Henderson. 
  • Some people think Matt Brown should have gotten the decision over Dong Hyun Kim, but I don’t think so.  I think Kim won round 1 due to submission attempts and a near finish and I think he won round 3 due to the take downs and big elbows out the end.  I think Kim looked really good against a tough as nails Matt Brown who showed some improvement.  Kim is a contender at 170 and though many people think he shouldn’t have won, and though I am sure he would have rather finished the fight, a win is a win and he will climb the ladder.
  • Tim Boetsh looked impressive against UFC newcomer Mike Patt, and I think if he can gain some cardio he can be a contender at 205.