Chuck Liddell vs Rich Franklin
Chuck Liddell, throughout his career has made a solid living on stalking his prey, cutting off angles, an throwing big power shots to dismantle his opponents in the cage. Unfortunately for him, he’s never expanded his skills beyond that. In the new world of MMA, game plans are just as important as a fighter’s abilities and Liddell has become one of the easiest guys to prepare against. Rich Franklin is a smart enough not to get in heated exchanges with the “Iceman” in risk of taking an early nap. I like Franklin to use his leg kicks to keep his distance from Liddell, while using his effective clinch game to score points when Chuck does get inside. I do expect Liddell to land a couple large overhand rights in the fight just to keep things interesting, but Rich will survive and earn himself the unanimous decision victory.
On Saturday night, no matter what, one of the most beloved fighters in UFC/MMA history will be one step closer to retirement. Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin are both in a “must win” situation to keep any title contender relevance at all. At UFC 115, whoever doesn’t get their hand raised at the end of the night will be stuck at a gatekeeper/gimmick match role for the rest of their career.
Prediction: Rich Franklin def. Chuck Liddell by Unanimous Decision
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs Pat Barry
The once feared Croatian striker “Cro Cop” meets another highly talented, upcoming heavyweight in Pat Barry at UFC 115. On paper, Barry is the heavy favorite in this fight. He has the hand speed to frustrate Mirko, and the power behind those punches to end the night early. Barry also has incredibly powerful leg kicks that could turn the worn down stems of Filipovic into an applesauce like substance. With all of that said, there is still a part of me that thinks Cro Cop wins this fight. Pat Barry’s gas tank is a serious question mark. As Barry wears down, his hands will drop, leaving him open for a left high kick from Cro Cop that can shut out the lights on anyone. Just 2 weeks after Mike Russow de-railed the Todd Duffee hype train, don’t be surprised if Pat Barry is the next to falter.
Prediction: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic def. Pat Barry by TKO – Rd. 3
Carlos Condit vs Rory MacDonald
Former WEC welterweight champion, Carlos Condit takes on the young Canadian phenom Rory MacDonald. On the feet, Condit has the more effective striking and clinch game to fluster MacDonald. The problem is, Condit’s Achilles heel has always been his take-down defense. MacDonald will have no problem getting this fight to the floor, where he will have complete control. Condit has a good guard game, but MacDonald will not be looking to stay in that guard for very long. With his slick jiu-jitsu, MacDonald should have no problem moving to better positioning on Condit keeping him out of trouble. Condit is a very tough guy to finish, but the constant ground and pound matched with multiple submission attempts should earn Rory MacDonald the easy decision.
Prediction: Rory MacDonald def. Carlos Condit by Unanimous Decision
Paulo Thiago vs Martin Kampmann
Paulo Thiago has shown he can dominate fights anywhere the action may go. He’s got crisp boxing, with power behind the punches on the feet, a paralyzing top-control game, and savvy jiu-jitsu to lock up submissions from any position. Kampmann is also incredibly well-rounded, but is not better at any one skill than Thiago. Kampmann may try for takedowns of his own, but Thiago showed against Jacob Volkmann that he’s very good at creating scrambles and taking back control from those take-down attempts.
Prediction: Paulo Thiago def. Martin Kampmann by Submission – Rd. 3
Ben Rothwell vs Gilbert Yvel
Not much to break down in this fight…. two large heavyweights that like to throw big hands. Yvel will look to keep distance while looking for the one big powerful punch or kick for the knockout. Rothwell wants to get in close and maul his opponent with a lot of short punches in route to a TKO stoppage. The loser will most likely be given their walking papers from the UFC.
Prediction: Ben Rothwell def Gilbert Yvel by TKO – Rd. 1
Tyson Griffin vs Evan Dunham
Two Xtreme Couture fighters showing the rest of the world that teammates can compete against each other… take heed AKA camp. Both fighters are stylistically similar just with different body types. Dunham, the much taller fighter will have the sizable reach advantage and if used correctly could be the difference in the fight. If Dunham uses his jab early and often, he can keep distance with Griffin and keep this fight on the feet. Griffin likes to set up punishing combinations inside with leg kicks that slow his opponent down. If Griffin is losing the stand up war, he should have no problem dragging Dunham to the ground if he gets a hold of one of his legs. When the fighters hits the mat, the duel remains a struggle for both combatants. Dunham has a very active guard game, while Griffin’s submission defense is top notch. If Dunham ends up with top control, the outcome remains the same. I like this fight to be 15 minutes of non-stop action, with neither fighter getting a true advantage. In the end, I think Griffin’s takedowns will be key factor in the fight, even though nothing will come of them. Look for a possible split decision in this one.
Prediction: Tyson Griffin def. Evan Dunham by Decision
Mac Danzig vs Matt Wiman
Mac Danzig needs a win on Saturday night or he might become the first winner of the Ultimate Fighter television show to receive his UFC pink slip. Since winning season 6 of the show, Danzig has gone just 2-3 inside the octagon. Danzig has struggled against strong wrestlers in his tenure in the UFC. While Matt Wiman’s wrestling isn’t considered to be great, it’s still better than what Danzig has to offer. Danzig’s best chance at success will be on the feet against Wiman. He can strike with efficiency at any range, but is best in close when he can deliver his powerful uppercuts. The problem with that against Wiman though, the closer he gets the more susceptible to the take-down he becomes. Wiman won’t have an easy time passing Danzig’s guard to gain better positioning, but he does have a knack for taking his opponents back on scrambles. I like Wiman to come out and test the waters on the feet early, where likely Danzig will get the better of the exchanges. Then Wiman will fall back on his wrestling/jiu-jitsu to wear down and frustrate Danzig for 15 minutes.
Prediction: Matt Wiman def. Mac Danzig by Unanimous Decision
Mario Miranda vs David Loiseau
You can’t say the UFC doesn’t do anything nice for their former superstars. David Loiseau gets another shot at UFC fame in front of his countrymen in Vancouver. Unfortunately for Loiseau, they paired him up against a rising star in Mario Miranda. Much like UFC 115’s headliner, Chuck Liddell, Loiseau is as one-dimensional as it gets. Loiseau will look to stand and bang like usual, but Miranda’s striking is good enough (if not better) to neutralize any advantage Loiseau might have had on the feet. Miranda is also the far superior grappler, so once the fight hits the ground, expect Loiseau to take even more of a beating down there. Loiseau is known for the amount of punishment he can withstand, but I feel Miranda will come out with something to prove after his TKO loss to Gerald Harris in his UFC debut.
Prediction: Mario Miranda def. David Loiseau by TKO – Rd. 3
James Wilks vs Peter Sobotta
On Saturday, it will be the first time in 364 days that Peter Sobotta has stepped in a cage. That doesn’t bode well for anyone, let alone someone that’s still growing in the sport in the first place. James Wilks comes in battle tested after a three round war against the extremely tough, Matt Brown. Wilks is known for his jiu-jitsu savvy, but often fights like he’s in a grappling match and not an MMA fight, leaving his face exposed for a beat down. I don’t think that will hinder him much at UFC 115, because I don’t see Sobotta ever getting a strong top position. Once the bell rings, I see Wilks pushing the fight towards the cage, then dragging Sobotta to the ground. Once the fight hits the floor, it shouldn’t be too long until the submission stoppage occurs.
Prediction: James Wilks def. Peter Sobotta by Submission – Rd. 1
Mike Pyle vs Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox is at his best, wrestling his opponent to the ground then posturing up and dropping hammer-fists. He might have to come up with a new game plan on Saturday if he hopes to leave Vancouver with a victory. With 16 submission victories, Mike Pyle is one the most accomplished grapplers in the division. Neither Pyle or Lennox are strong boxers, but Pyle is known for going into panic mode after the first time he gets hit hard. Jesse Lennox doesn’t have the takedown defense to keep this fighting standing for very long though.
Prediction: Mike Pyle def. Jesse Lennox by Submission – Rd. 2
Ricardo Funch vs Claude Patrick
Another top Canadian welterweight prospect, Claude Patrick makes his debut on home turf at UFC 115. Ricardo Funch showed little offensive dexterity in his fight with Johny Hendricks, but did show a toughness you can’t teach. Funch was easily taken down by the Oklahoma State wrestling phenom, but was able to will himself out of tough situations. Claude Patrick will have the same take down efficiency as Hendricks, but his ability to finish the fight is much greater. This should be an easy showcase fight for Claude Patrick.
Prediction: Claude Patrick def. Ricardo Funch by Submission – Rd. 1