Event: UFC 115: "Liddell vs. Franklin"
Date: Saturday, June 12, 2010, at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view (PPV)
Location: GM Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Kid Nate: Franklin is a southpaw who pays close attention to the angles and uses his footwork to avoid big right hands. Liddell is only a ghost of himself these days. He 's slow to get his punches off, and since he throws looping bombs, that doesn't help. He still has his power, but his chin is gone so he's less willing to trade in the pocket. Franklin by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: It's nice to see Chuck in such good shape, but how good of shape he was in was never really key to this fight. Sure, maybe Chuck lands a looping hook and it knocks Rich out, but I'd say that's less likely than Franklin using angles to outwork him for three rounds. I actually think the guy with the better chance to get a KO or TKO in this fight is Rich since Chuck has such trouble pulling the trigger on punches now. And I honestly don't trust Chuck's chin at all now. Rich Franklin by decision.
Mike Fagan: I don't think Franklin has the power to KO Chuck, so I think this becomes a question of how often Chuck can land a big bomb on Franklin. More often than not, I think Rich can get through fifteen minutes for the decision. I won't be surprised to see Rich admiring the rafters, but I've got Rich Franklin by decision.
Nick Thomas: Franklin is a beast at 205 and he's done a whole training camp in Cincinnati. Easy pick. Franklin by decision.
Chris Nelson: It's nice that Chuck has abs and all, but I don't like his chances here. It goes without saying that "The Iceman" will always have a puncher's chance (and yet I just said it...), but Franklin should be able to grind one out here fairly easily. Franklin via decision.
Leland Roling: I'm taking Chuck Liddell in this fight. I think the dedication to his training and the fact he'll be lighter and cut less as well as quicker will help him succeed in pummeling Franklin on the feet. Franklin's chin hasn't been granite and neither has Chuck's, but I think Chuck can maintain range and circle away from Rich's power consistently without getting hit flush in this fight. Chuck Liddell via TKO.
Jonathan Snowden: This fight should be very interesting. It's really a contest of percentages. How likely is Chuck Liddell to catch Rich Franklin with one of the dozens of looping punches he will throw in the course of a three round fight? If your abacus tells you "fairly likely," then best place your money on Chuck. Unfortunately for Liddell fans, I think Franklin is savvy enough to avoid Chuck's power strikes and pick away at him for 15 minutes. I'm going Brown (and pink). Rich Franklin by decision.
Kid Nate: It's time everyone just admitted that Mirko Filipovic isn't Cro Cop any more and won't ever be again. Even in his hey day Pat Barry might have presented problems for him, but that day is long gone. Barry's leg kicks should cut Mirko down and then he'll finish it on the inside. Barry by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Mirko isn't particularly mean anymore, he is slow moving around the cage, he gets hit a lot now and he isn't absorbing those shots very well. Barry isn't without his own defensive liabilities but he doesn't get defeated mentally like Mirko. It's sad to say but I just don't think that Mirko has it in him to beat hungry young fighters anymore. Pat Barry by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: I'm interested in Cro Cop's demeanor for this fight. Since losing to Gonzaga, Mirko's had a big problem with bigger guys who can strike with him. Barry can strike, but he'll be the smaller man in the cage. Or at least not the bigger man. I think Barry's the right pick, but I'm a sucker for nostalgia. Mirko Filipovic by TKO, round 2.
Nick Thomas: Cro cop revealed his knee is finally back to 100%, thank goodness he isn't fighting someone with good leg kicks. Barry by TKO.
Chris Nelson: Not saying Pat Barry is a world-beater, but I don't know how he loses this fight. Mirko's beaten a three-days-notice Anthony Perosh on a doctor's stoppage since, but his loss to Junior dos Santos is still fresh in my mind. Barry via TKO, round two.
Leland Roling: I'll probably have the unpopular vote here, but I think Barry is being a bit overhyped.. but hey, his nickname is Hype or Die. Hardonk was able to effectively kick Barry's legs and frustrate him throughout the first round of their battle. Unfortunately, Hardonk's striking defense has always been terrible. Mirko is much more adept at avoiding looping overhands, but the real question is whether he's confident in his legs to actually kick Barry and check Barry's power to the lower body. I think he will, and I'll take Mirko via TKO. Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic via TKO.
Jonathan Snowden: I think Pat Barry is a likeable guy, but I'm just not sold on him. Although my friend Dave Walsh from the excellent Head Kick Legend reminded me Cro Cop was no Peter Aerts, he was certainly a better technical kickboxer than Pat Barry. I think that will be the difference. Cro Cop will be able to keep Barry at distance, winning the fight with leg kicks and moxie. Cro Cop via decision.
Kid Nate: I'm torn here. On the one hand, I think Kampmann's not that dangerous on the feet. He's the definition of pillow hands. On the other hand, I think his grappling is being slept on here. Thiago has much more power standing, but I'm not sure he has the technique to catch Kampmann. He won't just blitz him like Daley did. On the ground it could be a toss up. I'm going with the Brazilian but I have my doubts. Thiago by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Kampmann had some of the most overrated kickboxing in the sport for a long time, now that people are finally starting to figure it out he's still pretty overrated. Thiago can hurt him standing and while Martin has good grappling, Thiago's is better. This is an ugly, ugly fight for Kampmann. Paulo Thiago by submission, round 2.
Mike Fagan: I'm a big Kampmann fan. Before looking at tape, I figured he'd be a solid pick here. Not so sure anymore. If Thiago's striking in the Swick fight is for real, it's a real tough fight for Kampmann to win. Thiago's the same guy who didn't look like a world beater in a decision victory over Jacob Volkmann two fights ago, though, so who knows. Kampmann allows himself to get hit in the face too much, and he won't beat Thiago on the ground. Paulo Thiago by decision.
Nick Thomas: I've always been a big fan of Kampmann. As long as Kampmann doesn't get caught on the ground, he takes this fight. Kampmann by decision.
Chris Nelson: Almost seems too obvious, but I see Thiago wading in with his adequate boxing, plowing Kampmann to the mat and tapping him with ease. Thiago via submission, round one.
Leland Roling: I don't think Kampmann stands a chance in this fight. Thiago's striking went from rather sloppy to crisp and accurate, and his ground game has always been very dynamic and active. Kampmann isn't the grappler that Thiago is, and he doesn't remain as compact as Thiago either. I think Thiago takes advantage of Kampmann's defensive lapses on the feet, and Kampmann will more than likely want to avoid the ground. Paulo Thiago via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: As Leland points out, what is Martin Kampmann supposed to do here? Your best chance against Thiago is standing, but I think Kampmann leaves too many openings to survive Thiago's power shots. That leaves the ground which, as Joe Rogan would surely tell us, is "Thiago's world." I think the fight hits the mat, followed by Kampmann's hand tapping the mat. Paulo Thiago via submission
Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald
Kid Nate: Classic bout between the rising prospect and the veteran who's struggling to hang in at the UFC level. MacDonald should be able to take advantage of Condit's crappy sprawl and put him down, but if he struggles with the take down he might get lit up in the clinch. He should be safe on the ground though. Hard to believe many considered Condit a top 10 welterweight not that long ago. MacDonald by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Man, this is a brutally hard fight for MacDonald. He remains a top prospect win or lose. Logic says that the much more battle tested Condit can eventually find his way to an advantageous position and pound out a stoppage win. What is sticking in my head is that this feels like a "Joe Silva knows more than you" kind of fight. One of those times where a prospect is put in with someone that seems really dangerous but who matches up in a way that allows the prospect to get a big win. So I'm going to roll with that. Rory MacDonald by decision.
Mike Fagan: In addition to being a sucker for PRIDE nostalgia, I also love rising young prospects. I was very impressed with Rory MacDonald's UFC debut and two things in particular. 1) He took a big shot from Guymon and recovered well. 2) Very very slick MMA transitions. Condit's a tough dude, and I think he could have been Rory MacDonald if he was born six years earlier. I'll take the prospect though. Rory MacDonald by decision.
Nick Thomas: Rory "the next coming of GSP" MacDonald... can he live up to the hype? I say yes. MacDonald proved his wrestling skills and heart in his first round win over Guymon. MacDonald by decision.
Chris Nelson: Toughest fight to pick on the card for me. MacDonald acquitted himself well in his last fight, but I still haven't seen enough from him to pick over a seasoned vet and former champ like Condit. Condit via decision.
Leland Roling: I think Rory MacDonald will be a star in the future, but I think he'll run into a brick wall in Carlos Condit first before progressing to becoming a star. Condit is very well-rounded, and I think Condit can take advantage of MacDonald's opening in his defense standing and be more than threatening on the ground. I think it's a great fight for MacDonald to strengthen his experience, but Condit has been in some very tough fights and his experience should help here. Carlos Condit via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: If MacDonald is able to get a win over Condit, the sky is the limit for the budding Canadian star. I'm a little concerned by MacDonald's young age though-he's still not yet able to drink legally to celebrate a win (in America. In Canada you are legal from the womb I think). I'm a little wary of stepping onto a young fighter's hype train after seeing Chris Horodecki derailed so spectacularly, both in the IFL and WEC. Condit is a huge step up in class for MacDonald and I think this ends up being a good learning experience for the young fella. Condit via TKO
Kid Nate: Yvel is another spent force. Rothwell should batter him up against the cage. Rothwell by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: I'm going to assume that Rothwell isn't a dummy in this fight. Even if he thinks he can win the stand-up, it's a certainty that he wins on the ground. As long as he can get inside and put the fight on the ground he wins. Ben Rothwell by decision.
Mike Fagan: If Rothwell tries to stand with Yvel for any length of time, expect a scathing article from me early next week. Otherwise, Ben Rothwell by decision.
Nick Thomas: Rothwell has an awesome chin. If he pressures Yvel against the cage, maybe take him down, Rothwell can win this. Rothwell by decision.
Chris Nelson: If Rothwell decides to stand, it's a coin toss on who lands big first. If Rothwell takes Yvel to the floor -- and I think he will -- Rothwell via TKO, round two.
Leland Roling: This is a bit of a tough call. Rothwell should probably try to maintain range and keep on the outside of Yvel's hulking overhands, but Rothwell has a tendency to clinch when power is present. If Rothwell's plan is to work for a takedown, Yvel might explode in close quarters and unload on Rothwell from the clinch as Rothwell tries to work for takedowns. That possibility worries me. Yvel is also highly underrated on the ground. He knows how to get back to his feet, and just because he hates guys taking him down doesn't mean he isn't adept enough to work his way back to where his power reigns supreme. Gilbert Yvel via TKO.
Jonathan Snowden: Rothwell has been game planning for this fight with Matt Hume and nobody ever accused Hume of being a dummy. There will be temptation to stand and trade with Yvel, but the smart play remains taking the Dutchman to the mat. Never mind the once in a lifetime win former teammate Robbie Lawler pulled out of his hat against the "middleweight Yvel" Melvin Manhoef. Lightning doesn't strike twice. A smart fighter concentrates on taking Yvel down-and I'm willing to bet Matt Hume is telling Rothwell to do just that. Rothwell via decision
Under card (Spike TV):
Kid Nate: Danzig's punching combinations and head movement in the pocket are things of beauty. He should have the edge on the feet, but Wiman will have read the book on Danzig -- take him down! Wiman's hard to submit and Danzig's not good at getting back to his feet. But I'm going with Danzig nonetheless, I just feel like he's the more determined fighter. Danzig by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: I think Wiman isn't going to spend a ton of time trying to strike with Danzig. He'll shoot and put it on the floor over and over. While Danzig has no problem going for subs I don't think he's going to catch one. I think Wiman just grinds away for a comletely ugly win. Matt Wiman by decision.
Mike Fagan: When Danzig's done, he can take an artsy photo of Wiman on the canvas. Mac Danzig by decision.
Nick Thomas: Both of these guys will be fighting to stay in the UFC. Wiman by decision.
Chris Nelson: Can't see a clear path to victory for Wiman here. Repeated takedowns will only subject him to more submission attempts. Eventually, Danzig catches him. Danzig via submission, round one.
Leland Roling: I like Matt Wiman, but I think Danzig will be too much for him here. Wiman's style somewhat resembles Frankie Edgar in that he quickly moves in and out and uses footwork and jabs to pound on opponents. Danzig has a surprisingly good boxing base, and his combinations do their fair share of damage to incoming opponents. On the ground, Danzig is much better. Mac Danzig via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Matt Wiman has never been submitted. I'm willing to bet that changes Saturday night. When Danzig's more technical striking befuddles him, Wiman will do what a wrestler does-take him to the mat. From there, Danzig will channel Nate Diaz, throwing submissions out there until something sticks. Danzig via submission.
Kid Nate: Dunham better not let Tyson outwork him for the first round and a half because he won't be able to make up that scorecard deficit. I think Dunham has the tools to beat Griffin -- great jab + reach advantage and is better on the ground -- but I don't think he's got the mental game to beat Tyson. Griffin by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Better fighter = should win. Tyson Griffin by decision.
Mike Fagan: Griffin's a better fighter and didn't have to move away from Xtreme Couture to set up shop. Tyson Griffin by decision.
Nick Thomas: This will be Dunham's biggest test. Great fight. I'm going to give the slight edge to Dunham based on his height and reach advantage. Dunham by close decision.
Chris Nelson: As Nate observed, Dunham's got the goods to win this fight, I just don't think he'll have a chance to utilize them against the tenacious Griffin. Griffin via decision.
Leland Roling: I think Griffin's methodical battering of opponents via his kickboxing will be Dunham's undoing in this fight. As he grows desperate, he'll shoot and Griffin will stuff takedowns and unload. I doubt Griffin finishes however, and I wouldn't put it past Dunham to be threatening at times. Tyson Griffin via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Evan Dunham is in trouble. Griffin is just a better fighter. He would really be in trouble if he asked Griffin why he never finishes fights. We did that when I worked for Heavy.com and his mean mugging was impressive. Maybe someone will ask him about it after he grinds Dunham to a decision? Griffin via decision.
Under card (May not be broadcast):
Peter Sobotta vs. James Wilks
Kid Nate: Was not impressed with Sobotta at all against Paul Taylor. Wilks is also lacking, but should be able to get Sobotta down and get the finish. Wilks by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: This bout is...a bit lacking. Sobotta is the definition of "borderline UFC talent." Wilks is better, but he's not someone who I think is a great talent. He absolutely should win this. James Wilks by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: I don't think either fighter will amount to much (or deserve to be in the UFC), but the books have Wilks as a 3-1 favorite. James Wilks by TKO, round 2.
Nick Thomas: On the ground, it's all Wilks. Wilks by decision.
Chris Nelson: No alarms and no surprises - feels like an easy match for the TUF winner. Wilks via submission, round one.
Leland Roling: Sobotta has been on military leave, so ring rust will probably come into play. But I'm not exactly keen on a guy who has most of his wins coming out of Eastern Europe. The scene is exploding, but the level of talent isn't enormously high in comparison to the States. Wilks has trained extensively in the States for years, has shown solid standing and ground skills, and has the determination to trounce Sobotta here. His conditioning is my only concern, but I think Sobotta is going to have problems regardless. James Wilks via decision
Jonathan Snowden: Sobotta lost to Paul Taylor, a fighter who just isn't very good. I know MMA math is a flawed concept, but when it comes to the untelevised undercard it's time to invoke some wacky formulas. Guy I've Heard Of/Whether Opponent Has Lost to Paul Taylor * Liklihood Joe Silva is trying to Build a TUF Guy=Wilks via submission.
Ricardo Funch vs. Claude Patrick
Kid Nate: I haven't seen anything impressive from Funch, who brought some hype into the UFC. Patrick is a little old to be a prospect at 29, but I think he'll paste Funch who is a sloppy fighter with no outstanding weapon. Patrick by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: This undercard is not as exciting as most UFC undercards these days. Patrick has a good record that doesn't hold up to investigation. Funch is a really good grappler and a good striker. I think he's got more ways to win and he'll do just that. Ricardo Funch by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: Hopefully the hometown crowd serves Patrick better than it did the Canucks. Claude Patrick by decision.
Nick Thomas: My fellow Canuck Patrick by decision.
Chris Nelson: Funch via decision.
Leland Roling: I don't think Funch is getting a fair shake in this match-up. For as good as Patrick's record looks at a cursory glance, I don't think he's as good as advertised. Solid grappling ability, but Funch brings a high-level of grappling skill to this fight along with some mean Muay Thai attacks in close range. Patrick's whole game will revolve around working the submission, and I think Funch will make him pay. Ricardo Funch via TKO.
Jonathan Snowden: When in doubt, go for the guy whose name sounds like he might have been a hockey goon in another life. Patrick via decision
Mike Pyle vs. Jesse Lennnox
Kid Nate: Pyle has a knack for giving away fights he should win, but Lennox is deeply limited and I think Pyle gets this one. Pyle by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: It's not going to be sexy, but Lennox is going to get takedown after takedown and grinding away for three rounds. Jesse Lennox by decision.
Mike Fagan: Two guys at the same level, except one is 6 years younger and on the right side of 30. Jesse Lennox by TKO, round 3.
Nick Thomas: Pyle by decision.
Chris Nelson: Pyle via submission, round two.
Leland Roling: Lennox brings a wrestling game that's historically been Pyle's major weakness, but he's not as strong a wrestler as some of the past opponents that Pyle has succumbed to are credential-wise. Pyle is great in the transition game and scramble, and I think he could probably catch Lennox in a submission in this fight off of a reversal or from his back. I'll take the risk, and go with Mike Pyle via submission.
Jonathan Snowden: Mike Pyle is a gym legend at Xtreme Couture. Too bad the fight is in the cage and not on the practice mats. At 34, I think Pyle's best days are gone. Lennox is young and hungry and ready for this. Lennox via decision
David Loiseau vs. Mario Miranda
Kid Nate: Poor Loiseau. He just got left behind by the MMA world. Miranda is for real, despite dropping his UFC debut. I think he'll batter the Crow from stem to stern. Miranda by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: I'd love to see Loiseau win for some nostalgic fun, but Miranda is in a better place in his career. "The Crow" tends to put himself in bad situations and that will be his downfall again. Mario Miranda by submission, round 3.
Mike Fagan: Loiseau's time has been done for awhile. I like Miranda to rebound. Mario Miranda by submission, round 2.
Nick Thomas: Loiseau is my favorite fighter. Yes I'm serious. Loiseau by decision.
Chris Nelson: Miranda via decision.
Leland Roling: Loiseau's unpredictable, wild striking will more than likely put him into danger once again. Against Herman, it was that exact strategy that led to his demise, and Miranda is a much more accomplished grappler. Miranda can be knocked out as apparent in his debut, but Loiseau is going to have real problems if this fight hits the ground. I'll take Mario Miranda via submission.
Jonathan Snowden: It may feel like Loiseau has been around forever, but the Canadian striker is still just 30 years old. The last time we saw "The Crow" he sleep walked through a decision loss to Ed Herman at UFC 97 and I swore I'd never pick him again. Yet, here we are. I am inclined to give him one more chance to wow me-for old times sake. Loiseau via knockout