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Has Chuck Liddell Pulled the Wool Over Your Eyes?

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Chuck Liddell and his 6 pack abs.
Chuck Liddell and his 6 pack abs.

"Chuck's in shape!" Many MMA fans and media are pointing out this is the reason Chuck Liddell will defeat Rich Franklin at UFC 115. As if to say the problem Chuck had in his game was his belly protruding over his trunks. This strangely happens every UFC. One fighter is so "improved" or "so much better" than the opponent they are facing. It boggles my mind how time and time again both fans and media members fall into the trap. John Hackleman talks about what good shape Chuck Liddell is in with Josh Gross.

On set, Hackleman found a "revitalized, renewed, reinvigorated, reborn," well-conditioned Liddell...

Being in shape paid off, unless you were a Liddell sparring partner. Hackleman said Liddell was "good to the point that it was bad" because he hurt two people in a camp that featured coaches like 1998 freestyle wrestling world champion Sammie Henson, Olympic boxing gold medalist Howard Davis, and submission experts from American Top Team and 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu.

"I've never seen him hit this hard, brutalizing sparring partners without even trying," the coach said. "It was scary to watch."

How many times have we heard the words "revitalized", or "reinvigorated" when a fighter is coming off a loss? Liddell has been out of action for 14 months. Quintin Jackson just came off a 14 month hiatus and blamed is loss to Rashad Evans on ring rust and a lack of focus.

Just because Chuck has abs it doesn't mean he has great athletic ability. He has lost most of his speed that has allowed him to be such a force in the Light Heavyweight division years ago. Liddell is like Roy Jones Jr., once both lost their athletic ability they were never the same. I also think it is foolish to write off Franklin because he is not a power puncher. Keith Jardine isn't a power puncher. Liddell struggles to check leg kicks and leaves his chin exposed when throwing his right hand. 

The point is even though Chuck is in immaculate shape, it doesn't mean he has corrected technical flaws in his game that have plagued him for the last 3 years. Don't be tricked by what Zuffa is selling you at UFC 115. Chuck Liddell is not a "new reinvigorated" fighter. He is the same old Chuck. I will leave you with this paragraph written by Dallas Winston of Cagepotato:

Logic and longwinded analysis aside, I would be thrilled to see an exuberant Liddell wind up and deliver the a nostalgic meat-hook or bore a hole through Rich’s soul with his signature right. But Chuck’s chances are too parallel with “the puncher’s chance” — there is too much stress on the mental aspect of combat, and the sudden screech to his momentum leaves too many questions to address.

SBN coverage of UFC 115: Liddell vs. Franklin