A rumor which we first reported on this site almost a month ago has today been confirmed as Rich Franklin was announced as Chuck Liddell’s next opponent at UFC 115 in Vancouver, Canada on June 12th.
Originally Liddell was expected to face fellow TUF 11 coach Tito Ortiz at the event, but as filming of the season was coming to an end posts on Tito Ortiz twitter account suggested that all was not well with the former champion.
Mid-way through last month rumors emerged that Ortiz had been forced to withdraw from the show before filming had finished with what was believed to be an injury. Further to that it was suggested that Rich Franklin had been brought in to take his place as a coach, and would now be fighting Liddell after the seasons conclusion.
UFC president Dana White categorically denied that this was the case, but several major mma sites stuck with their sources and claimed that White was bluffing.
Today’s announcement confirms that the rumor was indeed true.
In many respects this is a more compelling match-up. Liddell and Ortiz have already fought twice before with ‘The Iceman’ coming out on top on both occasions.
Franklin on the other hand has never faced Liddell, and with this being his debut at 205lbs, this is set to be a compelling fight between two fighters with something to prove after losing in their last outing in the octagon.
Liddell last fought at UFC 97 in April of ’09, and was defeated by Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. After the fight the 40 year old took time out to consider his future, but with his passion for fighting still as strong as ever he is now set to make his return to the cage.
Franklin faced Vitor Belfort at a catchweight of 195lbs in September of last year at UFC 103, and suffered a TKO loss in the opening round. Though retirement was not under consideration for the 35 year old, ‘Ace’ did take an extended break from fighting after a particularly challenging year in which he had also faced Wanderlei Silva and Dan Henderson.
Now Franklin has been called back into action and after fighting three world renowned fighters in 2009 (Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort), his first fight of 2010 will now be against perhaps the most famous of them all in what should be a memorable match-up between two UFC veterans.