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“UFC 115: Liddell vs. Franklin” Previews and Predictions

Rarely are fans privileged enough to see a pair of UFC icons and former promotional champions step into the Octagon and duke it out. June 12th will mark such an occasion, as Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin are squared away to tap gloves and make history at the GM Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Also set to face off are affable heavyweight Pat Barry and PRIDE legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in a bout that is certain to leave viewers’ knees and shinbones aching from the multitude of kicks destined to be thrown. Additionally, the card features Paulo Thiago attempting to lockdown a top contendership spot in the welterweight division against Martin Kampmann and a number of other match-ups with a great deal of entertainment potential like Tyson Griffin vs. Evan Dunham, Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald, and Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel.

Before I get into the actual “pick em” part of this article let me preclude the breakdown of bouts by saying one of the things about Mixed Martial Arts I’ve always loved is its unpredictable nature. I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction with a little insight/opinion included in the deal, but readers would be wise to avoid laying down money on my attempts to glimpse into the future. Beyond that, please don’t hesitate to share your own thoughts on any or all of the scheduled fights in the “Comments” section below, and let’s get this show on the road…

PRELIMINARY CARD

Mike Pyle vs. Jesse Lennox

This fight has a “loser leaves town” feel to it, especially in the case of Pyle, so I expect both men to leave it all in the cage on Saturday night and open up the show properly in the process. Pyle is a better grappler with Lennox being the superior striker so the winner should ultimately come down to which of the two will be able to dictate where the fight takes place. I favor Pyle in that equation based on his experience and training partners at Xtreme Couture. He should be well-prepared for anything Lennox brings and have little problem taking him down, if for no other reason to grind out a decision.

Winner – Mike Pyle via Decision

Claude Patrick vs. Ricardo Funch

Patrick should have a ton of support from his fellow Canadians in his UFC debut and will likely send them home happy when things are said and done against Funch. He’s on a ten-fight winning streak with eight of his dubyas coming in the first frame. Funch has been relatively inactive for the last few years, competing only three times since the start of 2008, and will have to rely on Patrick to keep things standing in order to have a decent shot at emerging victor. While Patrick may be known for his submissions he’s also gone three full rounds with the hard-hitting Drew McFedries and has two first-round TKOs on his record as well. I think he’ll be able to go toe-to-toe with Funch if necessary while having a significant advantage on the ground (not to mention a stout guillotine he can use if Funch attempts to shoot in).

Winner – Claude Patrick via Submission Round 1

James Wilks vs. Peter Sobotta

This match-up clearly caters to the international audience brought on by the show’s location as Wilks is originally from England and Sobotta from Germany. Wilks is obviously the bigger name based on winning his division on the ninth season of the Ultimate Fighter but fans shouldn’t discount Sobotta simply because they’ve never heard of him. The 23-year old has a fairly balanced attack and was able to go a full fifteen minutes against respectable veteran Paul Taylor in his UFC debut last June. I’m a bit wary of his year-long hiatus from competition but then again Wilks hasn’t stepped foot in the Octagon since November 2009 so it’s not as if he’s in a much better position where activity is concerned. All that being said, I think Wilks’ stand-up is good enough to bang with Sobotta and his submissions are somewhat slicker so I expect him to get back on the winning track this Saturday.

Winner – James Wilks via Submission Round 2

David Loiseau vs. Mario Miranda

I doubt I’m alone in my excitement regarding Loiseau’s return to the UFC. Though he may not have panned out to be quite the fighter people felt he was 4-5 years ago, “The Crow” is still entertaining to watch and one of the sport’s classier characters. He’s shown an ability to hang with any opponent regardless of their specialty and should be more motivated than ever to get his first win in the Octagon since the late, great Evan Tanner in October 2005. Miranda has solid striking but I don’t think it’s as powerful or diverse as Loiseau’s and he definitely doesn’t have the jiujitsu to finish things on the ground.

Winner – David Loiseau via TKO Round 2

Mac Danzig vs. Matt Wiman

I have high hopes for this bout in terms of entertainment value. Danzig and Wiman can both bring it in the ring, are experienced competitors, and should be enticed by the proposition of stringing together consecutive wins after each losing a few in a row. I think Danzig’s grappling is better, as is his boxing, but Wiman is more of a threat in terms of kicks and knees. However, I also believe they’re comparable enough that a finishing performance is unlikely. Look for them to constantly engage, even drawing a few “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd, but don’t expect a knockout or submission. In the end I believe Danzig’s overall technique is better and as such he’ll be able to defend on his feet, then take Wiman down and control him long enough in each round to earn the decision win.

Winner – Mac Danzig via Decision

Tyson Griffin vs. Evan Dunham

In this week’s Grappling with Issues I listed this bout as having potential for the biggest upset of the evening for a few reasons. My reasoning is as follows:

“Griffin has struggled to finish opponents in the Octagon, so he leaves a lot of time for his foes to slip in and steal bouts (Sean Sherk and Frank Edgar clearly being the best examples based on their actual success against the Xtreme Couture OG). Dunham is a solid grappler with nice hands and reminds me a bit of a 5’10, stronger, paler version of the 5’6 Griffin. It was hard not to be impressed by his submission of Efrain Escudero at Fight Night 20 last January, and he’s undefeated ten fights into his career, so I won’t be surprised if he walks away with a decision win against Griffin. However, I think a lot of fans will be and I don’t just mean the Zuffa Zombies out there.”

I’m not 100% positive Dunham will win, but there is one thing I am certain of – if either man finishes the other I will be utterly shocked. They’re fairly familiar with each other based on their shared choice of training center and even if they weren’t flying Xtreme Couture’s flag both are relatively skilled in every facet of the game.

Winner – Evan Dunham via Decision

MAIN CARD

Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald

This is by far the most important fight of Condit’s career and that includes his title run in World Extreme Cagefighting. He entered the UFC 14-months ago with a ton of hype behind him, much of it deserved in my opinion, but has been disappointing for the most part since. He’s 1-1 with two split decisions against respectable fighters but hasn’t been close to the same dominating force he was in WEC. A second loss in the Octagon won’t destroy his reputation, especially to an undefeated opponent like the 20-year old MacDonald, but it will definitely bump him a number of spots down the world’s collective rankings and have people questioning whether or not Condit will ever live up to the potential most saw in him. MacDonald, a Canadian, will want to please the crowd in Vancouver, and is facing the biggest “name” in his career, so I suspect he’ll have trained his ass off and won’t be afraid to let it all hang out in the cage. Condit is also fearless in his approach to Mixed Martial Arts, so don’t be surprised if this ends up being a “Fight of the Night” contender. MacDonald can strike and grapple, as can Condit (with an edge in both categories), so I expect there to be a number of evenly matched flurries on their feet and on the mat with the former WEC Welterweight Champion getting the best of his less-experienced adversary enough times to win the judges’ favor.

Winner – Carlos Condit via Decision

Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel

Without a doubt Rothwell will attempt to take Yvel down from the opening bell and work his mat-based attacks in hopes of either ground-and-pounding him or procuring a choke hold. “The Hurricane” has 31 TKOs in 36 career wins, and Rothwell has been rocked a few times over the years, so obviously Yvel’s best bet is to throw strikes while fending off takedown attempts. However, Rothwell is a solid wrestler who can also strike in addition to having above-average submissions for a heavyweight. He should be able to control most of the match’s positions, so unless the Dutchman lands a big shot early in the fight I don’t think “Big Ben” will have a hard time coming away victorious and possibly even end Yvel’s recent run in the UFC as a result.

Winner – Ben Rothwell via TKO Round 3

Paulo Thiago vs. Martin Kampmann

I don’t think people are giving Kampmann enough credit in this bout where he chances of success are concerned. Keep in mind his only losses have been by way of knockout while the only strike-based TKO of Thiago’s career came in his shocking upset of Josh Koscheck. Additionally, the Brazilian special forces operative owes eight of his thirteen wins to submissions while the “Hitman” has yet to tap out in nineteen professional fights. Kampmann is well-versed on the ground and is a legitimate striker as well. Both men faced Jacob Volkmann in the last year and where Thiago won a decision the Dane submitted Volkmann in the first round. I’m not a fan of “MMAth” but there’s definitely something to be said when the bouts being compared came in such close proximity to each other (less than 2 months apart). Thiago vs. Kampmann should be a hotly contested fight and is one of the many match-ups on the card worthy of a proverbial coin-flip when it comes to picking a winner. However, the more I think about it the more I feel Kampmann will open some eyes on Saturday night so I’m going to simply put my money where my keyboard-stroking fingers are and say…

Winner – Martin Kampmann via Decision

Pat Barry vs. Mirko Filipovic

I know I’m supposed to be unbiased as a journalist but in full disclosure I have to say Barry is one of my favorite fighters based on both in-ring style and overall character. Fortunately, objectivity won’t need to be shelved in this instance, as I think “Cro Cop” is also an outstanding individual with a list of accomplishments worth respecting and a terrific personality rarely associated with him based on the seriousness with which he approaches fighting. It’s a tough match-up to pick based on their in-ring similarities and knockout power each produces. One kick to the head or a series of shots to the thigh/midsection could end the night for either man, while jiujitsu and wrestling are almost certainly going to be thrown out of the cage-door before it closes and the action begins. I believe Barry will win based on age/athleticism as long as he doesn’t become too emotionally involved in the fight, and thereby distracted, based on his admiration of Filipovic. He’s faster and fresher than “Cro Cop”, and in that regard I think he’ll be first to the punch and ultimately shed a few tears in front of the camera before heading home to his momma.

Winner – Pat Barry via TKO Round 1

Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin

I can see this fight going a number of ways though of course none of them involve submissions. Neither fighter will have to worry about clinching or getting taken down and worked on unless deciding to sneak in a shot or two with hopes of winning a particular round in the mind of a ringside judge. Both men appear to have questionable chins and have made their living with strikes so expect that to be the target of choice for each. However, Franklin mixes in kicks with a great deal of success and would be wise to do so against the “Iceman”. If he stays active, opting for more lateral than forward movement, he has a good chance of taking home a decision or eventually catching Chuck on the button. However, if he spends more than a few seconds exchanging blows at any point or makes the mistake of rushing in there’s a good chance he’ll be put to sleep.

Winner – Chuck Liddell via TKO Round 2

7 COMMENTS
  • Makington says:

    I find myself agreeing with mostly every prediction Brendhan, and I applaud you saying it so much better than I can that the reasoning makes so much more sense now. I was thinking that Rich would tko Chuck in r2, but after seeing the weigh-in photos I might have to change my mind. He looked in tremendously better shape than I’ve ever seen him fight before. It shows me his mind is without a doubt in the right place. I’m still going to call a win for Rich Franklin by strikes, but I’m not half as confident as I was before with that pick.

    Rich tko r2
    Barry tko r2
    Kampmann decision (I’ve picked Thiago to lose every fight so far and have been horribly wrong, if he can do it once again than I will have finally learned my lesson and will totally accept him as a contender.)
    Rothwell ko r2
    Condit submission r1
    Griffin decision
    Danzig decision
    Loiseau decision
    Wilks submission r3
    Patrick decision
    Lennox tko r1

  • Rich S. says:

    Miranda via Decision.
    Danzig via Split Decision.
    Griffin via Decision.
    Condit via Triangle late r2.
    Rothwell via TKO r3.
    Thiago via TKO r2.
    Berry via TKO r2.
    Franklin via Decision.

    Loiseau has been one of my favorite fighters since his octagon debut. But, I simply can’t pick him to win in the UFC until I actually see it happen.. I will be rooting for him with all my heart but I have to go with Mario.

    Wiman’s a bit better on the fight while Danzig is a bit better on the ground.. These guys are both solid competitors, but I don’t see either of them finishing, and, in that case, the guy with the better ground game typically wins. Danzig takes it, but very, very closely.

    This is a nice fight but I say Griffin’s a bit stronger on the feet and the ground. It’ll be pretty close, but Griffin takes it with a definitive Unanimous Decision.

    Not sure why, but I feel like Condit’s going to return with a strong win. He hasn’t shown the ability yet in the octagon, but he still seems hungry enough to up his game. He catches Rory in a Triangle when it hits the mat in the second.

    Yvel’s a lot meaner than Rothwell.. But, that’s about it. He could tag him, but Rothwell has a better gas tank and ground game by far.. As long as Ben survives early on, it’s only a matter of time before Yvel crumples from exhaustion in the 3rd..

    I don’t like Kampmann’s chin and I certainly don’t like the way he keeps it high up in the air. Thiago has my absolute favorite trait in a fighter: Heavy hands with dangerous submissions. They’ll stand, and Thiago will catch Martin early in the second.

    I love Cro Cop so much. He’s a legend and I would love to see him win and win BIG against Berry. Just winning alone would be extraordinary for Mirko at the moment.. He still has the ABILITY to finish a fight, it’s just a matter of setting that ability in motion.. And we can never know if he’s going to do that until fight night.. I hope he does, but, I’d say Berry is a solid pick to win..

    It would be pretty awesome to see Liddell win, especially by knockout.. But, he’s near the end of his career while Rich, if not for his divisions holding the best fighters in the world, is still a pretty strong competitor. He got caught by Vitor and everyone jumped to “HE’S GOT A WEAK CHIN AND HE NEEDS TO RETIRE”.. That’s not true, or, at least, the Vitor fight isn’t evidence of that.. I think Rich is smart enough to win this via Decision

  • Rich S. says:

    “Wiman’s a bit better on the fight ”

    Make that “feet”.

  • Dufresne says:

    I just want to point out that while both Chuck’s and Franklin’s recent losses have all been by KO, if you look at who did it to them it’s hard to say they have weak chins.
    Chuck got blasted by Rampage for his first KO loss in the slide, Rampage has some of the heavies hands in the game. The next KO was to Raehad, and while he’s not known for heavy hands, if you watch that fight ending punch, I don’t think there’s a human alive that could have taken it on the chin and stayed awake. After that is Shogun. He’s long been one of the most aggressive and feared strikers around, I can’t find it embarrassing that Chick got dropped by a solid left hook there.
    Then you have Franklin. Two of his three TKO/KO losses have come to the greatest striker in MMA today. Period. The other came to a guy who’s known to have some of the fastest hands in the history of the game and who has made a name for himself by knocking opponents silly. And the shot from Belfort that dropped Rich appeared to land on the temple, where even a glancing blow can screw with your senses.

    Let’s not forget that in the meantime they’ve both fought Wandi and won. I don’t remember Chuck getting rocked once in that fight and I only remember Rich getting caught a few times, but he kept going.

    I don’t know how this fight is going to go, especially since Chuck showed up in impressive looking shape. I’m still leaning towards Rich here as he has great kicks and Chuck has shown reluctance to check leg kicks recently. But I do have to agree that if Rich stands in the pocket he’s got a chance of being KO’d by one of the UFC’s most powerful counter punchers in history.

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    Maybe it’s just semantics, but I wrote that they “appear” to have questionable chins. I agree with your assessment of the opponents/strikes involved but also wanted to acknowledge the recent string knockouts both have experienced.

  • Lethal Liquid says:

    Liddell chin is questionable. Once you have been brutally ko’d it is almost like you’ve been opened up to being ko’d. Rogan has said this before but, there’s only so many times that you can get your ticket punched. Chuck has got his punched a whole lot.

  • LiverPunch says:

    I got
    Condit, dec
    Rothwell, TKO rd 2 (GNP)
    Thiago, dec
    Barry, via Crocop being a shadow of his former self. TKO rd 2
    Franklin, dec.

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