Chuck Liddell. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The rumblings of the UFC counter programming Strikeforce got much stronger today when it was reported that Chuck Liddell would be facing former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin at UFC Fight Night on April 17 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Liddell was originally reported to be facing Tito Ortiz at UFC 115 but according to Fighters Only, Ortiz is dealing with something that may significantly impact his future as a fighter and it’s not an injury.
Update: 2:38 PM: Sherdog.com and MMAJunkie.com are now reporting that the bout between Liddell and Franklin will now take place at UFC 115 in June, not the rumored show for April 17 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Update: 8:00 PM: UFC president Dana White has now posted a response on his Twitter saying, “Not true! We are doing Couture vs. Franklin, not Chuck.” Stay tuned for more.
Yesterday reports surfaced stating that MMA legends Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva would be headlining UFC 76 in Anahiem, California.
Shortly after the fight was announced a story titled “Liddell-Silva Scrapped…Again” ran on the UFC website stating Silva did not want the fight with Chuck Liddell.
There was a glimmer of hope in the last couple of weeks, when terms were reportedly reached for the two future Hall of Famers to meet at UFC 76 in Anaheim, California, but Wednesday afternoon, a Silva representative informed UFC President Dana White that ‘The Axe Murderer’ did not want the fight.
“You never say it’s never gonna happen, but until you have something signed, you never say it’s gonna happen in this sport,” said Liddell. “It’s just one of those things. Before he had excuses, now he doesn’t. There’s nothing in his way now.”
Wanderlei Silva took time to respond to the comments saying he still wants the fight with Liddell but the proposed showdown in September just wasn’t convenient for him but he would be ready for a November showdown.
Here is the video (Portuguese):
The Fight Network has posted an excellent transcript of Wanderlei’s message:
“Hey Folks, I came here to clarify some things that are popping up about myself, about this bout between me and Chuck. I want to say that at no time I said I didn’t want to fight him. Much to the contrary, I have been wanting this fight for a long time. I’m very anxious for this bout, and I have already been preparing myself for some time, and I received a contract where I had two options, to fight either in September or in November.
Without a doubt it’s the most important fight of my life, I know the guy’s a big name in the USA, as I’m a big name as well, so I think we have all the tools to do a very exciting fight, and that’s why it’s that much awaited. I opted to do this fight in November, and at no time I said I didn’t want to fight him - much to the contrary, I was the first to propose this bout, and they were
hiding him behind many reasons, and now people are saying that I chickened out.
Much to the contrary, I’m here to say I didn’t chicken out, and I’m going for it. I think I need to be in my best shape, both physically and technically, so I want this extra time to be able to train better, and really be at the top of my preparation, so I can show all my potential.
I’m in a moment of a lot of transitions in my life. I’ll likely be moving to the USA in the next week, or the one following it, I’ll live there now, so a lot of things are happening and I’m having to take care of too many things, so I’m not able to focus directly on my training, which is what I need to do. I always did everything the promoters wanted, always fought whenever promoters wanted, and I was always available to all the promotions I worked for, and sometimes I even did things I shouldn’t have done, things that ended up hindering my own image, and this time I said “No, I’ll stop and organize my life to really be able to train and show everybody the Wanderlei Silva everybody is used to see.
I’m anxious to get back at winning, and I know of my responsibility with a lot of people from the whole world that supports me. Sometimes maybe because of anxiety from promoters in wanting me in a show, a lot of people start to say a lot of things, but none of that is true. [The] truth is that this fight will happen, if he doesn’t hide behind this now. If it’s not against him, then I don’t know - I’ll see what will happen.
But first, what I want to happen is that this fight takes place in November, so we can do a great spectacle that everybody’s waiting for. This bout has everything to be a historical bout in MMA, as all the fans have been awaiting this for a long time, and I hope to be at my best to show the Wanderlei Silva all of you want to see, with a lot of heart and determination, defending our flag and making it so I can bring happiness to all my fans that support me.
So this message is for you guys that want to know what’s happening, and to hear it straight from my mouth, not to keep hearing what’s taking place around [me], and this is the truth. Thanks guys, and stay with God –with his help I’ll be back strong, showing you the spectacle you are all used to seeing. Thanks a lot.”
Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva in November, make it happen Dana!