Mixed Martial Arts icon and San Luis Obispo resident Chuck Liddell returned to the octagon for a final shot at glory and helped to keep the Cal Poly wrestling team afloat in less than a month’s span.
Liddell, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, took on former middleweight champion Rich Franklin on June 12.
Coming off consecutive knockout losses to eventual champions Rashad Evans and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, most considered the fight to be Liddell’s last chance to get back into the world title picture.
Liddell controlled most of the action throughout the first round, breaking Franklin’s arm with a kick. But just five seconds before the first round ended, Franklin, backed up against the fence, caught Liddell with a shot that may have effectively ended his opponent’s Hall-of-Fame career.
Just a few weeks previously, Liddell had rallied to save another former aspect of his career.
With the Cal Poly wrestling program struggling for funding, the former Mustangs wrestler helped promote “Fight for Wrestling” on May 22 at Mott Gym.With proceeds benefiting the wrestling team, “Fight for Wrestling” was the first sanctioned mixed martial arts event in San Luis Obispo.
Several of Liddell’s protégés from the SLO Kickboxing team competed, as did other former notable wrestlers.
Matt Monteiro, a former Paso Robles High standout and Cal Poly wrestler, won in his amateur debut, defeating Cory Morford by unanimous decision.
In all, the event drew nearly 1,500 spectators and could lead to a second card next year.
The event was so successful that Cal State Bakersfield’s wrestling program, also in a financial bind, organized their own “Fight for Wrestling” several months later.