Liddell-Shogun to Carry UFC 97

By Brian Knapp Jan 18, 2009
Chuck Liddell may be in the twilight of his career, but he still packs quite a box office punch. And the UFC appears willing and able to milk it for all it’s worth.

The former light heavyweight champion will toe the line against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the featured bout at UFC 97 on April 18 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. UFC President Dana White announced the matchup on Saturday.

Once the dominant figure in the 205-pound division, Liddell (21-6) has lost much of his luster in the past two years. He has dropped three of his last four fights, including his knockout loss to current UFC light heavyweight king Rashad Evans in September. Liddell turns 40 in December, and his days as an elite fighter appear numbered, if not finished completely. Still, his resume ranks among the sport’s most impressive, with victories against Randy Couture (twice), Tito Ortiz (twice), Wanderlei Silva and Alistair Overeem.

Rua (17-3), meanwhile, has not looked like the same fighter who battered Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Ricardo Arona and Overeem en route to the 2005 Pride middleweight grand prix title. The dynamic 27-year-old Brazilian submitted to Forrest Griffin in his Octagon debut and struggled to put away Mark Coleman at UFC 93 on Saturday. Conditioning has become a significant concern for Rua, who has fought past the first round only six times in 20 career bouts.

Liddell and Rua were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 85 last June, but both men were forced to withdraw from the event with injuries.

UFC 97 will also feature the return of reigning middleweight king Anderson Silva, as he defends his belt against Brazilian upstart Thales Leites. A middleweight matchup pitting David Loiseau against Ed Herman will also be included on the card, as the UFC ventures north of the border for the first time in 2009.
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