Liddell, Franklin headline UFC 115 card high on depth and good will
Held up against the crassness from
Offering a card notable for its depth and good will, UFC 115 also appears to have the potential to be one of the best fought of the year. While a main event featuring aging veterans
If there's intrigue to be found in the headliner between Franklin, 35, and Liddell, 40 -- the former locked in a nebulous space between weight classes, the latter competing for the first time in nearly 15 months -- it's this: No one knows what "The Iceman" has left, and we haven't seen the pair of American MMA stars fight before. But, as best as I can tell, that's all.
Franklin makes for an ideal test as Liddell's comeback opponent. Why? The former UFC middleweight champion -- hard to believe it's been three-and-a-half years since "Ace" lost the title to
A Liddell win -- that's where I'm leaning -- presupposes a couple things: His conditioning is up to the task (and he looks to be in great shape) and he isn't totally shot. Franklin can and will make a fight out of the evening's main event. He can move and keep distance and accumulate enough strikes against Liddell (21-7) to pull off a decision. But I don't see it. At some point, Liddell's right hand will find the mark, and Franklin, a victim of four knockouts in his career, including his most recent bout versus
Don't expect much grappling. This is a standup fight. As the advertising for the evening's pay-per-view (10 p.m. ET) so delightfully promises, someone is getting knocked out.
UFC 115 lines up for some violent finishes: among the main event and a pair of heavyweight bouts --
Filipovic and Barry, experienced, quality kickboxers, could deliver a knockout, but I see it as a more technical affair, with plenty of movement and strategy. Watch the low kicks. Barry (5-1) took several in his last bout against a similar opponent,
An intriguing pair of welterweight bouts round out the pay-per-view card.
Thiago-Kampmann is a very good matchup, and though I favor the Brazilian, Kampmann is certainly capable of derailing his chances of a welterweight title shot. Thiago (13-1), like Kampmann (16-3) is at his most dangerous when he flows between different areas of his game. I expect this fight to be the best showcase of MMA in Vancouver.
Condit (24-5) is MacDonald's first real examination at 170 pounds. If the 20-year-old MacDonald (10-0) is impressive here, then we know he's going to be someone with serious chops. From what I've seen he's a confident kid, not cocky like Condit, who is unbelievably just 26 years old. Condit's experience cannot be discounted, and for that reason I'm going with the fighter from New Mexico by decision.
The bout I'm most looking forward to is a lightweight tilt between
Chuck Liddell KO Rich Franklin R2