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Franklin, Cro Cop Deliver Shocks at UFC 115, Liddell Finished?

Mirko Cro Cop dominated Pat Barry on the ground at UFC 115 Mirko Cro Cop dominated Pat Barry on the ground at UFC 115

Chuck Liddell made his return to the octagon at UFC 115 from GM Place in Vancouver on Saturday. Fellow returning MMA vet Rich Franklin, who had had a shorter layoff, played spoiler to what was supposed to be one last run at the title for Liddell.

Liddell came into the fight in phenomenal shape, and controlled nearly the whole first round. His punches looked sharp, and he added some uncharacteristic takedowns and kicks to his arsenal, one of which broke Franklin’s arm.

Then with less than ten seconds left in the first round, Franklin caught Liddell on the chin with a right hand that sent Liddell to the canvas. The fight was stopped with five seconds left in the round as Liddell lay on the canvas badly dazed.

In a press conference later that night, UFC president Dana White said that Liddell would retire from fighting following the loss, but an official announcement from the fighter himself hasn’t been made.

It was an unusual night for Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. It isn’t often that MMA fans have seen Cro Cop try to take a fighter to the ground, but that’s exactly what he did versus Pat Barry.

Barry was out to a strong start, knocking Cro Cop down with a vicious right hand in the first round. It was late in that round that Cro Cop attempted his first take down of the fight.

Following the take down attempt, Barry smiled in disbelief and the two men paused their combat to share an embrace of mutual admiration.

As the fight wore on, Barry faded. It was later revealed that he had broken both his hand and foot. That allowed Cro Cop to get him to the ground and sink in a rear naked choke, earning just his second submission victory in a long MMA career.

Also on the main card, Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann put on an incredible display of MMA, including a very technical ground game. Kampmann was an underdog in this fight, but he came in and won a unanimous decision by showing that he is better in every aspect of the fight game than the highly-touted Thiago.

Ben Rothwell grinded out a decision win over Gilbert Yvel in a match between two behemoths. Neither men looked as if they belong in the new UFC heavyweight division, which includes a stable of fast, well-conditioned, well-rounded fighters.

In the opening fight of the pay-per-view card, Vancouver’s hometown hero, Rory MacDonald took on experienced welterweight and former WEC champion Carlos Condit. The 20-year-old MacDonald is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He used is nervous energy to take the fight to Condit for two rounds before fading in the third. Condit grounded and pounded the youngster earning a TKO stoppage at 4:51 of the third round. Had the fight lasted the remaining nine seconds, MacDonald would likely have won a decision, but the decision to save a fighter in trouble has nothing to do with the time on the clock.

In the preliminary fights, Mike Pyle choked out Jesse Lennox with a triangle choke and won by TKO; Claude Patrick did the same to Ricardo Funch with a guillotine and earned a submission; James Wilks earned a decision win over Peter Sobotta; and Mario Miranda dominated an over-the-hill David Loiseau in a TKO victory.

Two more prelims aired on Spike TV. One ended prematurely on a blown call by referee Yves Lavgine. Matt Wiman had Mac Danzig in a guillotine choke. When the ref checked Danzig’s arm, he stopped the fight. Danzig immediately protested, but it was too late. Wiman earns the official win, but a rematch is just around the corner.

And in one of the most impressive performances of the night, Evan Dunham defeated Tyson Griffin via split decision.

UFC 115 saw two MMA legends head off in separate directions as Chuck Liddell went to the hospital while Mirko Cro Cop earned the submission of the night bonus. Rich Franklin’s win puts him back on the map at 205, while feisty welterweight performances from Martin Kampmann, Carlos Condit, and Rory MacDonald makes the future of the UFC’s 170 pound division look bright indeed.

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Last modified on Friday, 01 July 2011 11:29

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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