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Gambling Spotlight: UFC 115


Chuck Liddell

#19 Light Heavyweight
Former UFC LHW Champ


Rich Franklin

#13 Light Heavyweight
Former UFC MW Champ

+105 (5DIMES) / 48.8% Best Line -125 (5DIMES/BODOG) / 55.6%
40 Age 35
6'2" Height 6'1"
21 - 7 - 0 Record 26 - 5 - 0, 1 NC
13 / 1 TKO / SUB 14 / 9
The Pit Camp Team Extreme
L - Rua (TKO)
L - Evans (KO)
W - W Silva (UD)

Last 3
L - Belfort (TKO)
W - W Silva (UD)
L - Henderson (SD)

If Mike Goldberg says this is a "fight for the fans", I'm going to stab someone.

The big story heading into this fight is that Chuck Liddell is in shape. This is me not caring.

OK, it's certainly a better sign for Chuck-backers than your typical beer-gutted "Iceman" at the weigh-in, but the problem with Chuck over the past few years has little to do with his conditioning. His three KO losses came within seven minutes of the opening bell. He split two fights that went to a decision, and he didn't seem to gas out in either fight.

You can't train reflexes. Well, you can. You can keep the reflexes you have sharp, but Chuck is past forty. He's lost some of those reflexes and they're not coming back.

I think this fight comes down to one thing: How often can Liddell land a big right hand and turn Franklin's lights off? He hasn't done it in almost four years, and that includes fighting a chinny Keith Jardine and an oft-concussed Wanderlei Silva in 2007.

The Silva fight was Liddell's swan song. Franklin's better days are long behind him as well, but he'll be the more dynamic fighter and should have a better gameplan coming into the fight.

Hey, maybe Chuck does look reinvigorated. Maybe he implements a gameplan that expands on "land a right hand". Maybe maybe maybe. It's hard to teach old dogs new tricks. It'll be a fun sweat, but I like Rich Franklin for two units.



Mirko "Cro Cop"

#17 Heavyweight
2006 PRIDE OWGP Winner


Pat Barry


+155 (BOOKMAKER) / 39.2% Best Line -170 (BODOG/5DIMES) / 63.0%
35 Age 30
6'2" Height 5'11"
26 - 7 - 2, 1 NC Record 5 - 1 - 0
20 / 3 TKO / SUB 5 / 0
Cro Cop Squad Gym Camp Roofusport Fight Club
W - Perosh (TKO)
L - Dos Santos (SUB)
W - Al-Turk (TKO)
Last 3 W - Hardonk (TKO)
L - Hague (SUB)
W - Evensen (TKO)

Imagine Mirko Cro Cop's career as a scale. Now, let's imagine his opponents as weights for the scale. The better the opposition, the heavier the weight. Using his fights since winning the PRIDE OWGP, we'll put the guys he's beaten on one side and the guys who have beaten him on the other.

You've got one lopsided scale. And when you have to decide between Mostapha Al-Turk and Eddie Sanchez as your most relevant win, you know your career's taken a turn for the worst.

Leading into fights, we hear the same story from Mirko: he's training right this time, he wants to get back on the road to a title shot, he's finally 100% healthy. But when he steps in with someone willing to stand up to him, he wilts. Mirko offered nothing against Junior dos Santos, who did just about whatever he wanted to the Croatian.

Pat Barry likes to remind us that he modeled his game after his UFC 115 opponent. I don't think he's as good as a prime Cro Cop - though the present meta-game in MMA may have something to do with that, but at this point, he's more than capable of chopping down his hero.

Pat Barry is fast. Athletic. Dynamic. All the things that made Cro Cop such a feared fighter in PRIDE. Most of all, he's hungry. Maybe he doesn't enter the cage with this mindset, but once he realizes he's outmatched, Cro Cop looks content to just get through the fight and collect his paycheck.

There's one thing that concerns me with Barry in this fight. In addition to being good kickboxers, there's one thing that Cheick Kongo, Alistair Overeem, and Junior dos Santos all have in common: All three are well above six feet tall (they're all 6'4"+). Pat Barry stands at a squat 5'11" (and may be 5'11" wide). Will this visual give Cro Cop the confidence he's been missing in meaningful bouts?

I took Cro Cop in our staff picks, but if you're using your head, Barry's the right play. Maybe Cro Cop comes out and looks reinvigorated and I can celebrate a vintage performance. But it's more likely he comes out as usual - slow, uninspired, and lazy. You'll be able to tell what kind of Cro Cop you're getting if you watch his feet. If he comes out flat footed and walks straight at Barry, you can be sure he'll be in for a long day. I like Pat Barry for a unit.


Paulo Thiago

#5 Welterweight


Martin Kampmann

#11 Welterweight

-230 (5DIMES) / 69.7% Best Line +190 (Consensus) / 34.5%
29 Age 28
5'11" Height 6'0"
13 - 1 - 0 Record 16 - 3 - 0
2 / 8 TKO / SUB 7 / 6
Black House Camp Xtreme Couture
W - Swick (SUB)
W - Volkmann (UD)
L - Fitch (UD)
Last 3 W - Volkmann (SUB)
L - Daley (TKO)
W - Condit (SD)

I slept on Paulo Thiago heading into this bout. I still viewed him as the guy who luckboxed a win against Josh Koscheck (and I think Koscheck takes a rematch like his buddy Jon Fitch), but in reality, he's shown a lot of growth since his UFC debut.

I really liked what I saw in his last fight with Mike Swick. Swick's not a top fighter, and never really had the talent to maintain a top 10 ranking at 170. Still, Thiago owned him at UFC 109. Why? Much improved striking. His footwork looked very clean, using short, quick steps instead of long, deliberate movement. He looked tight when he threw and threw in combination. And when he had Swick on the ropes, he pounced immediately and locked in a tight submission.

I've been a big Martin Kampmann fan for awhile, but this is gonna be a rough fight for him. He's not easy to take down, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Kampmann outpoint Thiago over the course of fifteen minutes. The problem is that Kampmann seemingly has little regard for protecting his face. Whatever you think of the stoppage against Paul Daley (I didn't have a problem live, but I thought it was premature in subsquent viewings), allowing a dangerous striker like Daley to land multiple power shots is the epitome of an apathetic defense.

So, when I first saw Thiago hanging well past -200, I thought Kampmann would be an easy underdog value pick. Maybe he is if you can get him better than +200, but until you see that, I don't like a play.

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