It’s that time again, Potato Nation. Cage Potato’s two Bens square off on a host of issues swirling around UFC 88, including what’s to become of Rich Franklin as a light heavyweight, who has the best chances to score an upset on Saturday night, and more. Let’s get it, as they say, on.
Does Chuck Liddell really deserve a title shot if he beats Rashad Evans?
Goldstein: A two-fight win streak isn’t much, but it’ll be more than any other top-tier UFC light-heavyweight contender can boast on Sunday morning, with the exception of Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva — and one of those guys is going to take his first loss next month. The question really is: Who deserves it more, Chuck or the winner of that all-Brazilian eliminator match?
In terms of creating a title fight that fans want to see, Liddell has to be at the front of the line. Chuck vs. Forrest will get fans insanely fired up. The alternative is watching Forrest and (probably) Machida dance around each other for five rounds — I have my doubts about the entertainment value of that matchup. And not to play the race card, but I understand why an American MMA organization is hesitant to create a situation where three of its five champions, as Mike Goldberg would say, “speak the Portuguesa.” (I’m counting Big Nog as one of them, of course; he’s my pick to come out on top of the imminent four-man heavyweight “tournament,” but that’s another debate.)
Chuck’s been unwaveringly loyal to the UFC during his career, and he deserves to be treated well in his final years with the company. If that means jumping ahead of someone who may deserve it more in terms of merit, so be it. Though if they want to put Liddell against Anderson Silva in December before he gets a shot at the belt, well, that’s cool too.
Fowlkes: When it comes to the UFC and title shots, I like to remind myself of a line from the movie Unforgiven: deserve’s got nothing to do with it. In a perfect fighting world, the fight would be set up so that the winner gets a title shot, regardless of who that is. But we both know that even if “Sugar” wins he’s not shooting to the top of the list. So the question is, would beating Evans be enough to reasonably justify putting Liddell up against Forrest Griffin next, which is the fight the UFC really wants to make?