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UFC 115 Preview and Predictions

Chuck Liddell is set for a big comeback at UFC 115 Chuck Liddell is set for a big comeback at UFC 115

After a lot of red tape and jumping through hoops, the UFC will finally make its Western Canadian debut at UFC 115 in Vancouver. Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin square off in the main event, while Pat Barry and Mirko “Cro-cop” Filipovic serve as the co-headliners. There aren’t a ton of superstars in this one, but MMA fans can expect some exciting fights from athletes on the rise in the fast-rising combat sport.

At age 40, following a 14-month lay off, Liddell is looking to take one last run at a title. 35-year-old Rich Franklin also looks to reassert himself in the UFC picture after a nine-month lay off of his own.

The two aging fighters are still dangerous despite recent losses. Franklin has dropped two of his last three, while Liddell has four losses in his last five fights. Nevertheless, these are two aggressive strikers and still two of the biggest names in MMA. Saturday’s fight is bound to be intriguing from start to finish.

Liddell is the slight underdog, no doubt due to his subpar performances in his last fights. But Liddell comes into Saturday’s fight in better shape than ever before. Franklin is the more technical striker, but Liddell’s power is off the chart.

The fight is a coin-toss, but let’s go with the rejuvenated Liddell via 2nd round KO for the win.

Barry versus Crocop will be an out and out striking contest. Both fighters are kickboxers first and have below average ground games. This is another tough one to pick, but the youth and determination of Barry is likely to trump the laisez-faire attitude of Crocop, who can still stop a fight in a heartbeat, but whose best days are behind him.

Barry via unanimous decision.

20-year-old Rory MacDonald is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster and faces the stiffest challenge of his career in former WEC welterweight champ Carlos Condit. MacDonald is fighting in front of a hometown British Columbia crowd in just his second UFC fight.

MacDonald appears to have all the tools, but Condit is big, aggressive, and experienced. On the other hand, the undefeated MacDonald spent his formative years training MMA. He is part of a new generation of fighters who didn’t start as wrestlers, jiu-jitsu players, or kickboxers, but have been all MMA since day one. It's a difficult one to call, but UFC 115 main card will be MacDonald’s coming out party.

MacDonald via unanimous decision.

Brazilian police officer Paulo Thiago has been impressive in the octagon going 3-1 and earning one Submission of the Night and one Knockout of the Night since his arrival. He takes on Danish UFC vet Martin Kampmann who is also 3-1 in his last four fights since moving down to welterweight.

These are two well-rounded fighters and well-matched, but Thiago has faced stiffer competition and has the edge wherever this fight goes.

Thiago via 2nd round TKO.

Ben Rothwell and Gilbert Yvel square off in a match between heavyweight also-rans. These guys don’t seem to have much business fighting in the UFC at this point, and the loser could get his walking papers.

The only conceivable reason this fight made it onto the main card is that matchmaker Joe Silva expects a quick finish from two guys who are likely to go in and bang. However, the reality is that neither of these guys is in the same league as Lesnar, Velasquez, Dos Santos, Carwin, Mir, or Nogueira.

Yvel is a kickboxer who is past his prime and never had a ground game to speak of. Rothwell isn’t a write-off yet, but he’s going to have to beat someone worthwhile in the near future if he expects to become relevant. A loss to Yvel would be devastating.

That said, Rothwell should be able to use his ground game to finish this one. Even though he is more inclined to stand, he gives Yvel a better chance the more the fight is determined by striking.

Rothwell via 1st round submission.

That does it for the pay-per-view, but the free preliminary fights airing on Spike TV promise fireworks as well.

The always entertaining Matt Wiman steps into the octagon against Mac Danzig, who has struggled to find success in the octagon after winning The Ultimate Fighter season six.

Danzig is an immensely talented fighter who has found himself on the wrong end of some tough battles, but seems to have turned his fortunes around recently. Look for him to continue his well-balanced attack against Wiman, who has also recently bounced back into the win column but will be edged-out by Danzig.

Danzig via unanimous decision.

Tyson Griffin meets Evan Dunham in what could be the Fight of the Night. That’s not a bad bet given that Griffin has won said bonus in five of his last eight matches. Evan Dunham has looked surprisingly dangerous so far in the UFC, but he’s still a bit of an unknown quantity to UFC audiences. Griffin is a tough customer who is going to bring it every time. He has only two losses, including one to current lightweight champ Frankie Edgar.

Dunham has looked good against some talented fighters but he hasn’t fought anyone of Griffin’s caliber yet. This is a chance for him to do what John Hathaway did a couple of weeks ago against Diego Sanchez, but it is unlikely that we’ll see another upset like that here.

Griffin via 3rd round TKO.

UFC 115 promises big things for a Canadian audience ravenous for MMA. UFC legends Rich Franklin and Chuck Liddell bring the star power, while some hot up and comers on the undercard are bound to deliver excitement as well. It could be a big night for the likes of Rory MacDonald, while the Barry/Crocop fight will reveal something about the future of those fighters.

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Last modified on Monday, 04 July 2011 09:30

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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