The UFC loves Canada: UFC 113 in Montreal last month, the announcement of UFC Toronto a few weeks back, and now they move into the unchartered waters of British Columbia for UFC 115: Liddell vs. Franklin in Vancouver. Despite buzz being a bit low for the event and second-hand tickets supposedly dropping dramatically in price, there are a few interesting questions posed by this card: Is Rory MacDonald the real deal? Can Ben Rothwell survive enough so we can see a rematch with Roy Nelson? Is Chuck Liddell‘s fancy new six-pack and dance moves from ABC’s Dancing With The Stars an indicator that he’s given up his partying ways and could fight a few more times? I don’t have all the answers, but I have some opinions (like all of my pick ‘ems, please feel free to debate, berate, or adulate in the comments section below).
SPIKE PRE-LIMS QUICK PICK
Mac Danzig over Matt Wiman via decision
Evan Dunham over Tyson Griffin via submission, R3
Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald
The only Canadian on the main card, welterweight Rory MacDonald, was brought into the UFC in January and submitted Mike Guymon in R1. There’s some great buzz around the King of the Cage standout’s undefeated 10-0 record as he heads into the cage against Carlos Condit, a Greg Jackson camp fighter who, after going on a 5-0 tear in the WEC & winning the WW belt, was absorbed into the UFC and is 1-1 (split decision loss to Martin Kampmann in his debut & recently won a split decision over Jake Ellenberger at UFC 108). Despite a questionable start, Condit’s experience will be the deciding factor against the rookie, but I think “The Waterboy” has enough in him to not get taken out by Condit. Sorry, Canada, I see you 0-1 on the Main Card
Jay Pick: Condit via decision
Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel
Jay Pick: Rothwell via TKO, R2
Paulo Thiago vs. Martin Kampmann
Moving on down to the Welterweight division, Paulo Thiago looks to prove he’s a legit threat in the division against Kampmann, who’s 7-2 in the UFC with notable wins over Jacob Volkmann & Carlos Condit since moving down to WW. The Dane has good submission wrestling but Thiago poses a huge threat on the ground as well with black belts in judo & BJJ (most recent victory over Mike Swick via brabo choke at UFC 109 in February). I hate picking the favorites (Thiago is -215 to Kampmann at +170 with the oddsmakers) but I think Thiago has more tools, his only loss was getting decisioned by #3 WW Jon Fitch, and a better ground game to nullify Kampmann’s attempts. If GSP beats Koscheck late this year/early next & Thiago rolls off a win or two, I’d definitely like to see a rematch.
Jay Pick: Thiago via TKO, R2 (Fun pick on the finish)
Pat Barry vs. Mirko Cro Cop
The fan favorite on the rise, Pat Barry, fights the perennial fan favorite in Pride legend Mirko Cro Cop. Both men are kickboxers with brutal leg kicks, so I wouldn’t expect a jiu-jitsu clinic or grappling match. Basically, if Yvel/Rothwell doesn’t provide the KO of the Night, this fight will. Barry is 5-1 with all 5 wins coming via TKO or KO (his lone loss was to Tim Hague via submission at UFC 98). Despite his height (5’11”), Barry is a 255 lb. beast with K-1 experience and a silver medal in the Kung Fu World Championship. If you leave a leg out, Barry will kick it…and kick it very very very hard. As for Cro Cop, he’s 2-1 since returning to the UFC a year ago, but it has not been easy. After controversially finishing Mostapha Al-Turk at UFC 99, Cro Cop lost to (you guessed it) Junior dos Santos at UFC 103 and then was slated to fight Ben Rothwell at this past February at UFC 110 before Rothwell withdrew due to illness. On short notice, Aussie Anthony Perosh stepped in and, to his credit, made it to R3 before Cro Cop opened him up and the fight was stopped. I think Cro Cop still has a knock-your-head-clean-off kick left him, but I don’t see it coming against a younger, stockier game kickboxer like Barry, despite Barry’s shorter size making a headkick a little easier to get around.
Jay Pick: Barry via TKO, R1
Main Event – Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin
Jay Pick: Liddell via TKO, R2
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