UFC 115: Liddell vs Franklin – Preview and Predictions

The UFC returns to Canada this Saturday night for UFC 115: Liddell vs Franklin. The headline fight sees the coaches of TUF11 square off. Techically this is a better fight than what we would have seen if Ortiz hadn’t been injured, however I think this fight has a much higher probability of being a 3 round decision than the brutal finish we would have seen had Ortiz been stepping into the octagon to get KTFO’d by Chuck. A few people on t’interwebs have been complaining saying that it is a bit of a non-event and a poor card. I completely disagree, there are some GREAT fights on this card and a couple that really shouldn’t be confined to undercard obscurity. Dunham vs Griffin is almost certainly going to be the fight of the night and shouldn’t be on the undercard in my humble opinion. Elsewhere we have big names like Cro-Cop, Carlos Condit, Paulo Thiago, Martin Kampmann and Gilber Yvel. Not sure how this adds up to a poor card!

My picks for 113 were disastrous and my picks for 114 non-exisitent, so let’s hope I have some better calls this time round…..bring it on!

The undercard
Mike Pyle 18-7-1 vs. Jesse Lennox 11-2-0 – Welterweight
First up we have a decent-enough fight at welterweight between Mike “Quicksand” Pyle and Jesse Lennox. Pyle is a grappling stylist, with all but 2 of his wins coming by way of submission. He is coming into this fight off the back of a big KO loss in the first UFC event of 2010 to Jake Ellenberger. Lennox is also coming in off a loss, this time a decision to Rick Story and only the second loss of his career. He only has one previous UFC fight: A TKO win against Danillo Villefort. This victory is slightly tainted as the cut was caused by an accidental headbutt. Both men will be looking to avoid the dreaded “2 losses in a row” but unfortunately one of them will have to take the “L” come saturday. For me the fight stacks up like this: Pyle is far and away the superior fighter on the ground and will want it there. Lennox will know this, as well as knowing that Pyle doesn’t like getting hit too much and will want it standing. If Lennox can avoid being taken down and land on Pyle then it is all over for “Quicksand”. Although he is probably the stronger wrestler and is a graduate of the Miletich fighting system, I don’t know that he can find a way to stay stood up the whole fight. If this hits the mat, and I’m fairly confident it will, Lennox is going to struggle as Pyle pours it on him. I’m picking Pyle to take the sub in rd 2

Claude Patrick 11-1-0 vs. Ricardo Funch 7-1-0 -Welterweight
Brazilian Funch isn’t the most active fighter on the UFC roster and was forced to pull out of a scheduled fight against Matt Riddle at UFC 111, following his previous decision loss to Johnny Hendricks. 2 fights in 2 years = a fair bit of ring rust and against local favourite Claude Patrick i’m not sure things are looking rosy for him. Whilst he sure has guts and tenacity (see the Hendricks fight), he doesn’t have the skill-set to put him anywhere near the elite of this division. That being said, Patrick has been around a longtime and as this is his 13th pro fight since debuting 8 years ago, isnt exactly an octagon regular and certainly isn’t elite level himself. However with home-town advantage and a far better skillset, everything seems to point towards a decision win for Patrick and a pink slip for Funch

James Wilks 6-3-0 vs. Peter Sobotta 8-2-0 – Welterweight
TUF 9 welterweight winner Wilks is a hit and miss kind of fighter. He is very skillled in grappling but tends to use a more pure style of BJJ than that often employed in MMA. It’s almost like he forgets that his opponent is going to punch him when he is on the ground and he was outclassed everywhere apart from the ground in his defeat to Matt Brown last time out. German Sobotta definitely has the superior stand-up game but his ability to keep it stood up is doubtful. If Wilks has any desire to carve a decent UFC career he will have a solid gameplan for this fight to ensure he gets the win, that gameplan HAS to be, get him on his back and finish him there. I think we can expect to see that plan executed pretty well on fight night and I’m predicting a first round submission win for Wilks

David Loiseau 19-9-0 vs. Mario Miranda 9-1-0 -Middleweight
The second representative of the Canadian contingent, David Loiseau makes another UFC return after being released following his decision loss to Ed Herman back at UFC 97. A formidable striker with a flashy array of techniques he was once a serious contender in the Middleweight Division. Miranda is a rangy fighter who might be able to stifle Loiseaus striking game and once this hits the mat then Loiseau – despite being pretty tough to submit – is going to be losing this fight. He has only been stopped 3 times in 28 fights and the last time anyone finished “the crow” was when Jeremy Horn submitted him in 2004. The smart money goes on a Miranda decision here and that’s where my money is going to! I’m playing it safe and picking Miranda decision but I wouldn’t be surprised if Loiseau pulls of some crazy spin-back-kick-KO-from-hell to impress his home fans

Mac Danzig 19-7-1 vs. Matt Wiman 11-5-0 – Lightweight
Along with Amir Sodolla, Mac Danzig is perhaps one of the most disappointing TUF winners in the UFC right now. A pretty poor 2-3 record in his UFC career have left his UFC career on a bit of a knife-edge. Wiman is another TUF graduate who actually had appeared in the UFC BEFORE entering the TUF house when he was on the wrong end of a highlight-reel flying knee from Spencer Fisher. He didn’t make the final of TUF, but did get another contract and went on a 3 fight win streak before dropping decisions to Jim Miller and Sam Stout. Both Danzig and Wiman share losses to Miller and victories over Justin Buchholz. This is a pretty close fight, with Danzig maybe edging the striking, Wiman the wrestling and honours fairly even in the grappling. This genuinely could go either way but I’m leaning towards Wiman to take this. He is younger, possibly more athletic and if he can implement an effective top-game will have the measure of Danzig. Danzig seems to have got his training together more recently but has gone on record as saying if he doesn’t think he can hang with the people in his division he could leave the UFC by choice before being forced out. If he drops this fight, this could be the last we see of him. Unfortunately I think he will lose, but I’m hoping he doesnt quit the UFC of his own accord. What Dana and Co decide to do with him should he lose, is another matter entirely! Wiman decision

Tyson Griffin 14-2-0 vs. Evan Dunham 10-0-0 – Lightweight
I said in the intro that this one has fight of the night written all over it. I really like both fighters and this is sure to be a high-energy back-and-forth fight. Griffin is the more experienced and is always sniffiing around the top level of this division with is only career losses coming to former champ Sean Sherk and current champ Frankie Edgar. Dunham is far less established in the UFC but no less impressive winning his first 3 fights, including most recently a sub of the night armbar win over Efrain Escudero. Both fighters share a common opponent and have decision wins over Marcus Aurelio. Another interesting element to this fight is that these two guys are teammates at Xtreme Couture: TAKE NOTE AKA (Fitch, Koscheck and Swick!!). It’s great that we get to see two great fighters go at it without the BS excuse that they shouldn’t fight are they are teammates. At this level, if it is required for the career progressions of the fighters then teammates SHOULD fight, it is what fighters get paid to do after all! Dunham is slow starter and this showed in his fight against Escudero, if that happens in this fight he may be in trouble early but like in the Escudero fight, he is durable enough to come through it. Griffin is probably the more polished striker and certainly the better wrestler and this could cause Dunham problems. With very little to separate these fighters it is a virtual certainty that this fight will go to the judges. I’m going for Griffin to edge this but honestly don’t mind who wins as long as they put on the fight that I and every other fan know they are capable of! Griffin decision (split)

Carlos Condit24-5-0 vs. Rory MacDonald 10-0-0 – Welterweight
Since moving from the WEC to the UFC, the highly rated Condit has struggled. Having successfully defended the WEC WW crown 3 times after winning the title against John Alessio, he has gone to 2 split decisions in the UFC dropping one against Kampmann and winning his last fight against Jake Ellenberger. In MacDonald he is up against a fighter with serious momentum behind him and also the home crowd on his side. In Condits favour is experience and having the striking edge, on the ground MacDonald probably edges it, but that is not to discredit Condits own grappling skills. However to win this impressively and get back to stopping people rather than eeking out decisions Condit has to stick to the striking and clinch game and avoid being taken down. Macdonald has only ever been into the 3rd round once in his entire career and if this becomes the drag out, scrappy affair it could be then it will be interesting to see how he copes. Training out of Greg Jacksons in new mexico now, you KNOW Condit is going to have a perfect gameplan for this fight. Being able to execute that plan perfectly is another matter entirely, but I think this is Condits to lose. The level of training partners he now has at his disposal has to have brought his game on and possibly sealed some of the holes that were exposed in his last 2 UFC fights (takedown defence anyone??). He is going to be looking to get into title contention, having been brought in as a possible future opponent for GSP. Beating a prospect like Macdonald on his home turf, is his first step towards that goal. Whilst MacDonald is going to be no pushover, I think we can expect to see a re-invigorated Condit come fight night and I reckon he can put MacDonald away late on. Condit T/KO rd 3

Ben Rothwell 30-7-0 vs. Gilbert Yvel 36-14-1-1(NC) – Heavyweight
It was a bit of a shock when Yvel was bought in from the crumbled Affliction roster, sure he adds name value but he was a serious wildcard signing. Unpredictable and volatile with a notorious history of unprofessional conduct: Surely not the sort of fighter the UFC wanted to be bringing into their marquee division! In his last fight out he looked out of shape and out of ideas, but in his defence he was fighting hot prospect Junior Dos Santos on a months notice. His opponent this time, is certainly no Dos Santos and on paper is an easier match for the vastly experienced Yvel, but he isnt going to roll over and die for the veteran. Quite the opposite in fact, he is going to try to get in Yvels face and try to rag him around and put the pressure on him. This could see Yvel wilt and pick up another highly damaging defeat that sends him out of the UFC. However he has had much more time to prepare and has managed to get in a decent camp for this fight. Although it is quite likely the strains of his 51 fight career will ensure that he doesn’t reach the upper ecehlons of the division, he could be a good gatekeeper and is a high-profile name for any Heavyweights resume. Yvel isn’t just here to make up the numbers though and he will be only too aware of the threat Rothwell provides. I think Yvel could pull this one out of the bag but it won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty. I don’t know that Yvel has got enough in the gas tank to see this through to the last round, so expect him to look to finish this inside the distance. Yvel T/KO rd 2

Paulo Thiago 13-1-0 vs. Martin Kampmann 16-3-0 – Welterweight
This one is another contender for fight of the night. Both men are looking to establish themselves as contenders in the Welterweight sharktank and this fight could put one of them inline for a title eliminator or even a shot. They share a common opponent in Jacob Volkmann who took Thiago to a decision (which Thiago won) and lost to a first round guillotine against Kampmann. Kampmann probably has the cleaner striking and is decent in all ranges but Thiago is also a very dangerous fighter. Kampmanns best chance is stood up and whilst he probably won’t be able to put Thiago away here, he certainly has the potential to frustrate him and force a mistake that he could capitalise on. Kampann started his career TKO’ing people for fun but since fighting in the upper echelons of the European and now World scene, he hasn’t stopped anyone with strikes since his fight with Alexandre Barros at UFC 93. Thiago obviously has serious KO power but this comes from punches that are thrown from row Z and the durable Kampmann should see these coming. Thiagos best chance of winning this one lies in the grappling game, especially from top position. This fight has a lot at stake in terms of where the victor figures in the title race and I think it will go the distance with Thiago coming out on top. Thiago decision

Patrick Barry 5-1-0 vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic 26-7-2-1(NC) – Heavyweight
This fight represents the last throw of the dice for CroCops disappointing UFC career. He has looked ordinary at best compared to his days as the most feared striker in all of MMA when he spent time kicking peoples heads off their shoulders for fun. The guy who could sign the death certificate of Cro-Cops illustrious career is Pat Barry, a lifelong fan of the Croatian. Barry is a powerful striker with good handspeed and great leg kicks. We all know about Cro-Cops weapons of choice but old father time has blunted these instruments of war and he is a long way off being a fighter who can trouble Barry. Although I hate to see the demise of an MMA legend like Cro-Cop and as much as it would be great to see him go out on a high, all I can see in this fight is Barry ploughing through the Croatian. This is the end of an era and it is time for Mirko to bow out gracefully and let the new guard take over. Barry TKO round 2

Chuck Liddell 21-7-0 vs. Rich Franklin 25-5-0 – Light-Heavyweight
This fight should be a no-brainer: Franklin is one of the best conditioned athletes in all of MMA and Chuck has had a LONG lay off in almost semi-retirement to concentrate on ballroom dancing and coaching TUF. Since moving up to lightheavyweight and beating Matt Hamill, Franklin, ever the “company-man” has recently served a purpose of the UFC in bedding in new guys who flitted between middleweight and light-heavyweight as a result these fights were all fought at catchweight. Franklin has also gone on record saying that a few of the fights he didnt really want, because he needed to take some time to heal up some niggling injuries and let his body recover from a hard few years of fights “because what the UFC needs me to do I’ll do” (or words to that effect). This could be the clincher in this fight. Chuck is seriously hungry and is seriously ripped going into this fight. He is in the best shape I have ever seen him, the beer belly is gone but the determination remains. I’m not saying that Franklin brings nothing to the table here, far from it. But is he really up for this? He has once again been brought in to do the company a favour since Tito had to drop out. What Franklin has going for him is supreme fight intelligence, he knows how dangerous Liddell is and he knows what to look out for. In his fights against Silva and Henderson he used range intelligently and mixed things up with his striking. This is what he needs to do if he is going to avoid the big right hand that Liddell will be looking for. Chuck definitely has not evolved with the sport and as a result, win or lose in this fight, I don’t think he can hang with the elite of his division. He also seems to have developed a suspect chin. Im torn between a heart and a head pick here. My heart says Chuck can rise up from the ashes and start knocking fools out again but my head says there is no way Franklin lets that happen and fights an intelligent, well planned fight picking up the decision. Ill probably regret this pick but I’m going with the heart and will be rooting for Chuck to KO Franklin. Whilst i have the utmost respect for Ace, I think a big finish in the headline fight would be awesome. However once again I will be unsurprised if this is the wrong pick and Ace gets the nod from the judges. Liddell TKO rd 3

***************UPDATED WITH RESULTS ****************
Pyle vs. Lennox – My Pick: Pyle sub rd 2 Actual: Pyle sub rd 3
Funch vs. Patrick – My Pick:Patrick decision Actual: Patrick sub rd 2
Wilks vs. Sobotta – My Pick Wilks sub rd 1 Actual: Wilks decision
Loiseau vs. Miranda – My Pick: Miranda decision Actual: Miranda tko rd 2
Danzig vs. Wiman – My Pick: Wiman decision Actual: Wiman sub rd 1
Griffin vs. Dunham – My Pick: Griffin decision Actual: Dunham decision (split)
Condit vs. MacDonald – My Pick: Condit TKO rd 3 Actual: Condit TKO rd 3
Rothwell vs. Yvel – My Pick: Yvel TKO rd 2 Actual: Rothwell decision
Thiago vs.Kampmann – My Pick: Thiago decision Actual: Kampmann deicision
Crop-Cop vs Barry – My Pick: Barry TKO rd2 Actual: Crop Cop Sub rd 3
Liddell vs. Franklin – My Pick: Lidell TKO rd 3 Actual: Franklin KO rd 1


One comment on “UFC 115: Liddell vs Franklin – Preview and Predictions

  1. Pingback: Iiiits TIME! The UKMMA websites do battle… | UK MMA NEWS

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