Arm Chair Booking: UFC 76

September 15, 2007

Two important Light Heavyweight matches headline UFC 76 as Chuck Liddell faces Keith Jardine and Shogun Rua makes his octagon debut against Forrest Griffin. It will be very interesting to see how this pay-per-view draws. Reactions to the the Liddell-Jardine match have ranged from why to who cares, while there is some buzz for Rua-Griffin.

On paper, Liddell v. Griffin, Rua v. Jardine looks like it would have been a stronger lineup. Liddell-Griffin was the original plan heading into Spring ’07 before Keith Jardine derailed the Forrest Griffin band wagon. That upset left the UFC scrambling for a challenger at 205 leading to the expedited purchase of the WFA and what many thought was a premature rematch of Liddell-Jackson (Hindsight being 20/20, that worked out well for the UFC). While each have lost some of their luster since then, Liddell-Griffin still has great marque value (certainly better than Liddell-Jardine) and would almost certainly have delivered a stronger buyrate. Furthermore, from a business perspective the match-up is a win-win since both Liddell and Griffin are draws, the same can’t be said for Jardine. A Jardine upset of Liddell would be disastrous for near term business.

The only way the actual match-ups make sense is if Liddell is being protected heading into a December match-up with Wanderlei Silva and a potential rematch with Rampage. While I think Forrest is a better fighter than Jardine, I’m not convinced Jardine is a safer fight for the former champ, since if Jardine has demonstrated anything its knockout power, just ask Forrest Griffin. The odds of Jardine catching Chuck seem alot higher than Forrest grinding out a decision.

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