Chuck Liddell vs Rashad Evans At UFC 88

Ever since the now infamous ESPN The Mag interview with Dana White where White mentioned he had an announcement that would “blow people’s minds,” speculation and rumors have run wild across the web of what it actually is. One of the rumors to come out was that Anderson Silva may be moving up to light heavyweight and fighting Liddell. Well, Silva may still be moving up, but he Liddell isn’t going to be his opponent.

ESPN The Mag is now reporting that Rashad Evans will still get his shot at Liddell after their first scheduled fight at UFC 85 was cancelled.

Evans will have his chance to break through in September. According to a UFC source, he will be Chuck Liddell’s mystery opponent in the organization’s debut in Atlanta. The fight has been agreed to in principle—the only thing left is the paperwork. Any kind of win over the Iceman would probably vault Evans into light heavyweight title contention and be a defining moment for him and MMA fans. They’d have to embrace him, right? Right?

No offense to Rashad, but I can’t say I’m anymore excited now than I was when the UFC 85 bout was announced. I feel like I’ve seen this fight a hundred times—Liddell using his takedown defense and wrestling to keep the fight on the feet against the wrestler and inferior striker. Of course, in this instance, Liddell’s hamstring injury is the wild card that hasn’t been a concern in the past. Many were hoping for Shogun, including myself, but his injury’s apparently not going to be healed in time.

As much as I don’t care for it, its a smart move on the UFC’s part. One of the biggest money fights they can make is Liddell vs Jackson III for the title. Assuming Jackson successfully defends his title against Forrest Griffin at UFC 86 and Liddell gets past Evans, it would likely set up Liddell’s presumed last shot at redemption against Rampage and at holding the light heavyweight gold again before his body forces him to retire.

In addition to the Anderson and Shogun rumors, there was talk of Chuck fighting Wanderlei Silva next. Any one of them would have presented a bigger threat to Chuck than Evans does. seems to think Anderson Silva may be fighting Yushin Okami in October, so perhaps the rumors that he was moving to light heavyweight are just that—rumors.

[UPDATE 6/16/2008 5:52PM]The UFC has officially confirmed Chuck Liddell vs Rashad Evans at UFC 88 on September 6 at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.