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UFC 115: Liddell vs. Franklin review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on September 30, 2010, 12:54 AM

UFC 115: Liddell vs. Franklin

Vancouver, British Columbia

-There were some odd circumstances surrounding this show as despite British Columbia passing a bill to sanction MMA in December 2009, there were still no proper regulations leading into the show and the UFC were almost forced to switch it to Cincinnati a week or two before the event. Thankfully though they ended up being able to stick to Vancouver, meaning another new city and state had been broken into. The other big story was of course the switch in main event, from Liddell vs. Ortiz to Liddell vs. Franklin, which to me was a positive as I prefer fresh fights to rematches.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Welterweight Fight: Mike Pyle vs Jesse Lennox

Bit of an underwhelming opener, but then I like Mike Pyle so hey. Here he was looking to bounce back from a loss to Jake Ellenberger at UFC 108, while Miletich student Lennox was coming off a loss to Rick Story at Januaryís Fight Night 20. As a fan of Pyleís I was hoping heíd pull off the victory, probably by submission.

Round One and Pyle circles on the outside, looking to work a jab. Good straight right lands for the Xtreme Couture fighter. Lennox pushes the action, but he hasnít landed anything yet. Good leg kick from Pyle. Takedown attempt from Pyle, but Lennox uses a whizzer to stuff it and swings Pyle into the fence before breaking off. Nice leg kick from Lennox. Head kick glances as Pyle backs up swiftly. Lennox again pushes forward and lands a right hand, then follows with a leg kick. Low kick answers for Pyle but Lennox avoids a knee from the plum clinch. Body kick lands for Pyle. Stiff jab from Pyle. Lennox is swinging wildly here but still not really landing. Takedown attempt from Pyle is blocked again. Couple of power hooks land for Lennox and seem to have Pyle hurt, but as he wades forward he leaves himself open and Pyle puts him down to a knee with a right before dropping him with another! Pyle drops down looking to finish, going for a mounted guillotine, but Lennox manages to hold on and Pyle decides to let go, bashing him with some elbows and punches as the round ends. Pyle took what was up to that point an even round with the action at the end.

Round Two and Pyle looks to work the jab again before catching Lennox coming forward with a right hand. Leg kick from Lennox and he continues to push forward, but heís got a bloody nose now. Takedown attempt from Pyle and he trips him down, but Lennox quickly scrambles up and ends up with a rear waistlock. Pyle tries the Sakuraba style kimura and rolls down, but Lennox escapes and winds up on top in guard. Beautiful sweep from Pyle puts him on top in side mount and he goes for an armbar, but Lennox escapes and we end up with Pyle in half-guard. Some sick grappling there. Good punches from Pyle in half-guard as he looks to work to pass. Good job from Lennox to avoid the pass though and he gets to full guard. Lennox looks for an armbar, shifting his hips, but this allows Pyle to posture up and he drops some good shots before passing into side mount. He looks to set up the guillotine again, but Lennox scrambles to his feet before Pyle drags him back down into his guard. Action slows as Lennox does little on top, with Pyle showing an excellent defensive guard. Armbar attempt from Pyle, but Lennox avoids it and manages to almost take the back, but the round ends before he can capitalize. 10-9 Mike Pyle.

Round Three and Lennox again pushes forward, almost walking into a knee in the process. Good leg kick from Lennox as Pyle looks to work a front kick to keep distance. Nice inside leg kick from Pyle. Lennox throws a couple more leg kicks, answered by a right hand from Pyle. Wild overhand right misses for Lennox. Crowd begin to get a little restless as Lennox misses a superman punch. Couple of jabs land for Pyle. Spinning backfist from Lennox misses by a mile. Stiff right from Pyle. Two minutes to go. Good combo from Lennox wading forward and he forces Pyle into the fence, but Pyle breaks with an uppercut. More long punches land for Pyle and really bloody up Lennoxís nose. Less than a minute to go and a superman punch stuns Pyle, causing Lennox to smell blood and charge in with a flurry! Pyle looks rocked and covers up as Lennox unloads, and they tumble to the ground with Lennox on top in Pyleís guard. Lennox postures up, but suddenly gets caught in a triangle and Pyle tightens it up and lands some elbows...before pointing out that Lennox is unconscious, causing the ref to step in with seconds on the clock!

Really fun opener despite a couple of slow points, and the ending was hugely dramatic as Pyle looked in real trouble after the flurry before catching him with the submission from nowhere. Excellent stuff from Mike Pyle and he looked good both standing and on the ground here, finally seeming comfortable inside the Octagon.

Welterweight Fight: Claude Patrick vs Ricardo Funch

The latest Canadian fighter to debut in the UFC, Patrick was bringing in a record of 12-1 and hadnít lost since a 2002 fight against Drew McFedries. Side note, but what with GSP, Jon Goulet, TJ Grant, Rory MacDonald and now this guy it seems like about 90% of the Canadians that get into the UFC fight at Welterweight! Opponent Funch was coming off his loss to Johny Hendricks and still has the ill mini-braid haircut. Good for him!

Fight begins and they circle before Patrick shoots and forces Funch into the cage. Funch looks to stuff the takedown, but Patrick keeps the pressure on and lands a couple of knees to the legs. Funch turns it around and forces Patrick into the fence, but the Canadian manages to get double underhooks and brings Funch down. Funch quickly hip escapes into half-guard, then into full guard. Patrick looks to posture up, and avoids an armbar attempt, but in an odd call the referee calls time for an illegal upkick to the head. Replay clearly shows Funch didnít kick him, he brushed the head with his foot as he went for the armbar. Thankfully no point is taken and they restart in the same position. Ref is a bit of an inexperienced guy though (Tony Williamson, not seen him before) so hey. Patrick stands up in the guard and avoids being kicked away, then drops some serious punches and elbows that do some damage, bloodying Funch up. Patrick continues to work from the top, landing some vicious left hands, and then he passes to half-guard where he lands more ground-and-pound. Patrick grinds the elbow into the face of Funch, and then manages to lock up a mounted arm-in guillotine, but just as Funch looks ready to tap the buzzer sounds! Damn. 10-9 Patrick, great round for him.

Into the 2nd and Patrick pushes forward, landing a left hand into the clinch. Funch looks for a takedown as Patrick throws a knee, but the Canadian catches him in a guillotine and lands some knees before releasing. Funch looks for the takedown again, but he canít get Patrick down and again leaves his head open. This time Patrick synches up the guillotine and jumps to guard, pulling Funch down, and the Brazilian taps out there.

Outstanding debut for Claude Patrick who showed no sign of nerves at all, just blowing right through Funch with very little difficulty. Looked pretty well-rounded too as he came in touted as a striker and totally dominated a guy known as a Jiu-Jitsu expert on the ground. Should be interesting to see how far this guy can go in the UFCís most loaded division by far.

Welterweight Fight: James Wilks vs Peter Sobotta

Man, for a TUF winner this was pretty low on the card, as Wilks had lost his first post-TUF fight to Matt Brown and ended up being relegated down to prelim status instantly. I guess Zuffa brass donít see him as a marketable star or something. This seemed like a gimme for him though as German Sobotta hadnít exactly set the world on fire in a June loss to Paul Taylor and hadnít fought since due to military commitments.

Round One gets started and they trade a few strikes with Wilks looking to establish the jab. Good body kick lands for Sobotta. The German clinches and muscles Wilks into the cage, but he canít get the Brit off his feet and ends up breaking off with an elbow. Front kick from Wilks and he tries to grab a guillotine, but Sobotta gets a takedown into guard. Sobotta lands some short punches to the body as Wilks looks for a high guard, but canít quite get the rubber guard. He tries an armbar though and almost gets it locked in, sweeping the German over and locking it up, but Sobotta does an excellent job on defense and pops free to his feet. Sobotta stands over him and then looks to drop back into the guard, but decides to kick at the legs and allow Wilks up instead. Couple of punches land for Wilks and he grabs the plum clinch, but Sobotta forces him into the cage to stop any offense. Throw attempt from Wilks, but Sobotta blocks it. Sobotta drops for the takedown, and Wilks decides to jump to guard and this time he gets the rubber guard properly. It looks like heís going for a gogoplata, but Sobotta pulls out and they come back to their feet in the clinch again. Knees to the body land for both men and the round ends there. Tough round to score as Sobotta was the aggressor, but Wilks came closest to ending things with the armbar so Iíd give it to him.

Second round and Wilks opens up with a head kick that glances off Sobottaís chin. Sobotta lands some punches and looks to have Wilks hurt a little, but he decides to look for the clinch again and forces Wilks into the cage. Good knee to the face from Wilks. Sobotta continues to look for the takedown, but Wilks stuffs it and lands another knee for good measure. Right hand for Wilks breaks. Wilks chases forward and they trade punches with both men landing before clinching again. Sobotta looks for the takedown again, but eats some more knees and doesnít really come close to getting the Brit down. He switches to a single leg now, but Wilks continues to defend. Two minutes remaining in the round and Wilks clocks him with another knee. Trip from Wilks puts Sobotta down and the Brit quickly passes to full mount. He begins to set up for an armbar, using the knee-on-belly, but Sobotta slips free and gets half-guard. Wilks stands over him for a moment but Sobotta attempts a leglock and almost sweeps. Wilks escapes and grabs a guillotine though, but he canít get it locked up as Sobotta rolls, and he decides to bring the fight back to standing. Wilks pushes forward through a couple of punches, and then looks for another takedown as the round ends. Another close round but itís another one for James Wilks on my scorecard.

Final round and Wilks pushes forward with a heavy combo that has Sobotta stunned for a moment. He really pushes the action with strikes and Sobotta looks tired. They clinch up again and Wilks goes for the takedown, but Sobotta manages to stay on his feet and break free. Beautiful left jab lands for Wilks and snaps the Germanís head back. Body kick from Wilks is caught, but as Sobotta tries to drag him down Wilks locks up a kneebar. Sobotta defends nicely and in the scramble, he counters a kimura by taking the back with both hooks in. Body triangle from Sobotta and he looks for the choke, but Wilks defends well. They roll through a couple of times with Sobotta still clamped firmly on the back, but he still canít get the choke. Sobotta loses the body triangle though and Wilks manages to turn into his guard. Sobotta tries to get the rubber guard, but he canít get it properly and Wilks lands a couple of elbows. Odd knees to the tailbone from Wilks and he continues to land with short elbows. Seconds to go and Wilks finishes the fight in top position. Close round but Iíd give it to Sobotta for the back control, so I have Wilks 29-28 but I could see Sobotta 29-28 if you gave him the first round.

Judges score it 30-27, 30-28 and 30-27 for James Wilks. Surprising that no judge gave Sobotta the third, but I guess the 30-28 guy mightíve scored that round 10-10 which would be fair enough. Not a bad fight, but it was more solid but unspectacular than anything else. Canít see either guy getting into title contention any time soon if Iím honest.

Middleweight Fight: Mario Miranda vs David Loiseau

In yet another return to the Octagon (his fourth stint this time!), Loiseau had initially been pegged to fight John Salter on short notice at UFC 113, but some issues with his licence (apparently he was falsely linked to organised crime!) meant his big moment was held off until here, against Brazilian Miranda who had looked excellent in a losing debut against Gerald Harris. To me Loiseau hasnít looked right since his beating in 2006 at the hands of Rich Franklin, and so I picked Miranda to grind out a decision win.

First round and it must be pointed out, Miranda is perhaps the most shredded guy Iíve ever seen in the UFC, almost like a bodybuilder in competition levels. We begin and Miranda immediately clinches and hits a suplex, getting Loiseau down and taking the back with an over/under. Couple of punches land to the side of the head and Miranda gets one hook in and follows by getting the second. Loiseau rolls into half-guard, but eats a nice short elbow. Miranda looks to pass, but Loiseau manages to get into full guard. Loiseau looks to tie the Brazilian up as he peppers with some ground-and-pound, moving the Crow towards the fence. Loiseau looks to scramble out, but Miranda stays on top and elbows the side of the head as Loiseau gets into the turtle position. Heavy knees to the body land for Miranda, but Loiseau explodes to his feet. Miranda quickly clinches and forces him into the cage, and Loiseauís left eye looks badly swollen already. Knees inside for Miranda as Loiseau looks to break free, but Miranda trips him down to half-guard. Good scramble from Loiseau allows him to roll to his feet, but Miranda immediately gets on him and clinches again. This time Loiseau presses Miranda into the fence, but referee Tony Williamson decides to break them off. Left hook lands for Loiseau as Miranda pushes forward, but again the Brazilian grabs a clinch and forces the Crow towards the fence. Elbow to exit from Miranda and thatís the round. Dominant round for Mario Miranda, 10-9.

Into the 2nd and Loiseau presses forward with a couple of heavy kicks, but they donít really land clean. Miranda rushes forward, but walks into a stiff right hand that has him a bit worried, but he follows by ducking a punch and grabbing a waistlock to take Loiseau down again. He takes the back with the over/under like in the first round, and opens a cut on the top of the head with some punches and elbows. Loiseau works to his feet, but heís bleeding badly now and Miranda drags him down again. Miranda really opens up with some heavy shots and all Loiseau can do is cover up. Loiseau rolls over into half-guard, but he eats some more elbows before Miranda hops into side mount. Loiseau gives his back and Miranda grabs the over/under again and continues to punch away. Brutal elbows land as Loiseau tries to cover up. Miranda gets both hooks in and flattens him out, and from there he looks for the rear naked choke. He canít lock it up though, so instead he goes back to some vicious elbow strikes, and why this hasnít been stopped yet I donít know. More BRUTAL SHOTS land for Miranda and this is becoming criminal. Loiseau looks out of it and isnít doing a thing and yet the referee is just watching. Insane. More punches land for Miranda and then he switches back to the elbows and FINALLY Tony Williamson steps in. Good lord.

Well, that wasnít a bad fight at all and the story was that Miranda had too much grappling skill for Loiseau and never let up for a second, pushing a relentless pace from the beginning, but the ending was disgusting; one of those finishes that give MMA the reputation of being ďhuman cockfightingĒ amongst the more ignorant. I mean, Loiseau took shot after shot after shot without defending and yet the ref stood there. Herb Dean wouldíve stopped it, John McCarthy wouldíve stopped it, Josh Rosenthal wouldíve stopped it, Steve Mazzagatti...well, he mightíve let it go, but even so. This was the second balls-up from Tony Williamson on this show and while you canít put all the blame on him as heís an inexperienced ref, the Athletic Commissions really need to look at getting more training for referees so this sort of thing doesnít happen again.

Lightweight Fight: Mac Danzig vs Matt Wiman

After pulling himself out of the last chance saloon with a win over Justin Buccholz at UFC 109, TUF 6 winner Danzig was hardly given an easy fight here against Wiman, who had looked excellent against Shane Nelson in December. On paper this was a very even fight and, it must be said, a great choice to open the Spike TV portion of the card with.

First round and they exchange some strikes before a scramble allows Danzig to get on top, avoiding a leglock attempt from Wiman. Danzig looks to drop some punches before Wiman scrambles into full guard. Wiman manages to lock up a guillotine and sweeps over into mount, and Danzig looks to be in trouble. He holds on as Wiman tries to squeeze, but as he gives the thumbs up....Yves Lavigne steps in thinking Danzig has passed out and stops the fight. Crowd immediately shower the Octagon with boos as Danzig looks distraught, quite rightfully so. Even Wiman looks horrified.

Replays outright show one side of Danzigís neck Ė which was, it must be said, wasnít spotted by Lavigne Ė was totally open meaning the blood could still get to his brain. Ridiculous decision but again, the blame lies with the Athletic Commission who donít allow the referee to just restart the fight if something like this happens. I mean, itís not Wimanís fault, itís not Danzigís fault, and really Lavigne just made a human error. This happens time and time again and I just donít see why they canít allow restarts. Terrible stuff.

Lightweight Fight: Tyson Griffin vs Evan Dunham

Bit of an odd situation here as both guys normally train with Xtreme Couture, but Dunham ended up moving camp back to Oregon to train to fight his teammate. Wonder if this was Dana trying to send a message to the American Kickboxing Academy or something? Regardless, despite Dunham looking pretty great in his win over Efrain Escudero, I couldnít see him getting past Tyson who to me is one of the best 155lbers in the world Ė even if he doesnít get as many finishes as Iíd like.

Fight begins and Dunham circles around the outside as Griffin stalks forward. Combo by Griffin doesnít really land cleanly. Leg kick lands for Tyson. Single leg attempt by Dunham and he picks Tysonís leg right up, but Tyson shows some SICK BALANCE to hop around and manage to escape. Couple of good straight punches land for Dunham though. Griffin shrugs off a clinch attempt and continues to stalk forward. Pair of glancing rights land for Tyson. Left hook over the top from Dunham. Good leg kick from Griffin. Right hand follows but doesnít land cleanly. Nice combination from Dunham coming forward. High kick just misses for Dunham. Leg kick lands again for Tyson. Beautiful left hook lands for Dunham to counter another leg kick, but Tyson follows with another. Tyson steps in but in a rare error allows Dunham to grab a rear waistlock, and they go to the ground with Dunham looking to take an over/under. Dunham manages to trip him down and gets both hooks in, looking for the choke, but Tyson crawls around looking to scramble free. Good control from Dunham though and he remains clamped on the back. They exchange some short punches as Dunham tries to slap the body triangle on, but he canít finish and the round ends. Even round but youíd have to go with Dunham for the dominant position, 10-9.

Second round and Tyson pushes forward, but eats a stiff counter due to Dunhamís long reach. Tyson comes in swinging, but Dunham ducks and hits a takedown, avoiding a guillotine attempt as they go down. Dunham moves into half-guard and he works to pass, before grabbing a DíArce as Tyson looks to wriggle to his feet. Dunham canít lock it in and decides to let go, but as Tyson stands up he eats a knee and a high kick on the break. Good leg kick from Tyson to answer and he follows with a combo. He looks for another, but Evan again shoots underneath and hits a takedown to half-guard. Tyson looks to be going for a kimura from the bottom, but Dunham smartly uses it to step over into side mount and then take the back. This guyís grappling is pretty sick. Dunham looks for the choke again, but Griffin stays calm and continues to defend. Tyson rolls and manages to stand with Dunham on his back, but Evan locks up the body triangle to stay in position. He continues to look for the choke as Tyson reaches for the head in an attempt to dump him forward. Sure enough Griffin drops forward in a headplant move, but Dunham remains on the back and Tyson surprisingly stands back up! Dunham is like a lemur here or something. Round ends with Dunham on the back. 10-9 Dunham again.

Between rounds Randy Couture is outright telling Tyson he needs to take Dunham out in this round to win as heís probably lost the previous two.

Final round and Griffin immediately pushes forward swinging, but they exchange and Dunham comes out best, landing a body kick. Tyson continues to push forward and avoids a takedown before landing a right hand. Good combination from Dunham as he pushes forward. Head kick narrowly misses. Tyson shoots on a single leg and drives Dunham into the cage, but Evan blocks it and breaks with a knee. Stiff right from Tyson, answered with a one-two from Dunham. Kick to the body from Dunham drops Griffin for a moment as he lunges in with punches, but he doesnít look hurt and pops back up. He tries another but Griffin catches it and lunges in, only for Dunham to switch and take the back again! Wow. Dunham drags him down and has both hooks in, and weíre back to the same position as in the previous rounds. 1:30 remaining and Tyson is in trouble. He decides to stand with Dunham on his back again, but this time Dunham looks to have the choke locked up, although itís on the jaw and Griffin manages to hold out. Looks like heís going for some sort of face crush now, but that isnít going to tap Tyson Griffin out. Seconds remaining and Griffin tries to slam him down, but Dunham remains on the back as the fight comes to an end. Iíve got this a 30-27 shutout for Evan Dunham, amazing stuff.

Judges have it a split decision, surprisingly, 30-27 Dunham, 29-28 Griffin, and 29-28 Dunham. No clue what the judge who went with Griffin was smoking, as thereís no way in hell that he won that fight. Seriously, thatís fucking bizarre. Regardless, if the win over Escudero didnít convince people, this certainly did Ė Evan Dunham is the real deal. Nobody had shut down Tyson Griffin completely in that way, and when you consider heís faced Sean Sherk, Hermes Franca, Clay Guida, Frankie Edgar, et al, thatís incredibly impressive. In four fights in the Octagon, Dunham has firmly entrenched himself in the 155lbs top ten in my opinion, and I think within two or three more fights he might be a genuine title contender if he isnít already. Entertaining fight.

Welterweight Fight: Carlos Condit vs Rory MacDonald

At just 20 at this point MacDonald was the youngest fighter on the UFC roster, but heíd shown serious talent and calmness beyond his years in his debut win against veteran Mike Guymon. Announcers mention that Rory was just THIRTEEN when Condit made his professional debut in 2002, which is insane, but then when you consider Condit is only 26 now, that means he debuted when he was nineteen himself! Despite Roryís obvious talents though, to me this was a step too far for him Ė Condit is a similar fighter and heís proven at the very top level against genuinely great opponents. I expected the Natural Born Killer to pick up another win in another exciting fight here.

Round One begins and Rory pushes forward, catching a body kick and taking Condit down early. He tells Carlos to get back up and then really pushes forward, but eats a low kick and a right hand in an exchange. Into the clinch and they exchange some knees to the legs before MacDonald hits a nice trip into full guard. Condit looks for the rubber guard and ties him up as the crowd chant for Rory. Condit stays very aggressive from his back, landing punches to the head as MacDonald looks to pass. No real attempt at ground-and-pound from Rory yet as Condit continues to strike from his back. MacDonald stands back up though and allows Condit to join him. Jabs from MacDonald coming forward, but he walks right into a strong right hook that staggers him. Good recovery from Rory and he counters a low kick with a hard right of his own. Good left from Rory and he pushes into the clinch before catching a knee and getting another takedown. Again though itís Condit who is the aggressor, striking from his back as MacDonald tries to answer with some punches of his own. Rory tries to pass the guard, but Condit does a good defensive job and then goes for a leglock as Rory looks to step over for a pass. MacDonald rolls out and they come back to their feet. Combination from Rory but he eats a couple of knees leading into the clinch. Rory breaks and pushes forward, and they exchange front kicks. Good leg kick from Condit. Body kick follows. Knee to the body from Condit is caught and Rory forces him into the fence, but Carlos quickly breaks. Beautiful leg kick set up by a one-two from Condit. Rory fires back with one of his own, then gets a takedown on the buzzer. Really hard round to score as MacDonald was the aggressor and got some takedowns, but Condit did more damage from his back and landed the better strikes standing, so Iíd go with Carlos Condit, 10-9 despite Joe Rogan being convinced MacDonald took the round.

Round Two and Condit lands with a body kick as Rory pushes the action again. Right hook lands for MacDonald as he really swings for the fences. Condit catches a kick and looks for a trip, but Rory blocks and winds up on top as Condit botches a takedown. Half-guard for Carlos and Rory looks to pass into side mount, but Condit immediately scrambles back to butterfly guard and escapes to his feet. MacDonald continues to press forward, and almost gets a trip off a knee from the clinch again. Good left hook from MacDonald to break, and he pushes forward swinging, but Carlos fires right back with a combo ending in a leg kick. Front kick pushes Rory back but he misses with a superman punch and MacDonald looks for a takedown. Condit stuffs it and uses a standing kimura to spin and get on top in mount for a second, but he gets too aggressive from the top and Rory traps a leg and trips him, enabling the Canadian to wind up on top in guard. Nice! Good elbows from the back from Condit, as MacDonald stays pretty conservative from the top. Rubber guard again for Condit and he continues to pepper Rory with punches. Rory stands back up and kicks the legs, then allows Carlos to his feet. Wheel kick misses for Condit. Rory pushing forward again. Into the clinch off a superman punch from Condit, but Rory breaks. Crowd wildly chanting for Rory now. Good combination lands for MacDonald. Both men swinging but miss. Leg kick from Condit. He shoots for a takedown but Rory stuffs it, only to eat a knee on the way out. They exchange into the clinch again but Rory breaks off. Both men land jabs. Good leg kick from Condit. Seconds to go and Condit glances with a spinning backfist into a high kick, before both men throw front kicks on the buzzer, and Condit goes down, causing Joe Rogan to have a seizure! Ha! Replay actually shows that Conditís kick hit Roryís face while Roryís connected with Conditís chest though, and it was the fact that Condit jumped into his kick that made him fall down. Another razor-close round but the story was the same as the first round, so 10-9 Condit and I do not see how MacDonaldís takedowns with no offense are winning him this fight.

Between rounds Greg Jackson totally changes his usual relaxed tune in Conditís corner, yelling at him that this is FIVE MINUTES OF WAR and he has to PUNISH THIS KID! The DARK SIDE OF GREG JACKSON, WORD!~!

Third and final round and Condit comes out throwing kicks, but Rory catches one and shoves him back before following with a flying knee that doesnít land cleanly. Head kick does, however, and backs Condit up. Rory really gets aggressive now, coming forward and swinging wildly, but Condit fires right back and stuns him with a right, causing him to shoot for a takedown. Condit drops for a kimura though and switches, taking top position in half-guard where he drops a couple of elbows. Big elbow lands and cuts Rory open, but as he looks to pass to mount MacDonald almost gets a sweep. Condit stays on top though and drops some punches before working with some nasty elbows from short range. Full mount from Condit now and Rory looks in trouble, but he hip escapes back to half-guard before eating some more elbows. MacDonald tries to kick him away, but Carlos stays on top and drops a right hand back down into half-guard. Rory manages to sweep back to his feet in the clinch, but his right eye looks badly swollen now. Big knee and a combination from Condit has him rocked again, and he goes for the takedown, but Condit gets on top in half-guard and punishes him with elbows again. Blood is gushing out of the left side of Roryís face now and his right eye is almost swollen shut. More elbows land for Condit as Rory hangs in there in half-guard. Crowd are going insane as Condit tries to trap an arm to deliver more shots. Rory rolls and kicks him away but Condit stays on him and continues to land. This is becoming brutal. Full mount for Condit and another elbow lands but Rory scrambles and tries to sweep. Condit remains on top though and you could make a case for stopping this as Rory is taking such a beating. Condit stands over him and kicks at the legs for a moment, then drops back down for some more ground-and-pound with the elbows. Only seconds to go now and this might go the distance, but Condit lands with two vicious punches with nine seconds to go and the ref CALLS IT THERE! Holy shit.

Crowd shower the cage with boos and a ďBULLSHIT!Ē as Condit celebrates, obviously disappointed to see their hometown boy lose, but such is MMA. Post-fight Condit puts Rory over as a great fighter who has a great career ahead of him, and says he didnít realize how long was left when the ref stepped in as he was just looking to work. Rogan then joins MacDonald who is surprisingly down on his performance, saying that he didnít know what was going on during the stoppage as Condit was kicking his ass, and then he admits he was hurt from the first round and seems to think he was losing from the beginning. Which is not only humble, but goes to show what *really* happened in the fight.

Alright, two things here. Firstly, the stoppage was entirely justified, in fact you could argue it was late if anything. MacDonald took a horrific beating in the that round, the sort of beating that could be detrimental to a career in fact, and probably received facial fractures in the process. The referee shouldnít take how long is left in the round into account because if the guy is being beaten on, which Rory was, then itís a just stoppage. Secondly, and I love Joe Rogan so donít get me wrong here, but the commentary was horrendously biased here, giving credit to MacDonald for everything he did while selling Condit short until the one-sided third round. Could you have given Rory the first two rounds? Possibly, itís arguable depending on how much you value takedowns and aggression, but it certainly wasnít cut and dry like Rogan was making out and if Condit *had* lost the decision after a clear 10-8 third round in my book then it wouldíve been a travesty.

With that out of the way Ė this was an amazing fight from start to finish as Rory MacDonald showed huge amounts of skill and poise beyond his years, and took the fight to a seasoned, dangerous veteran, proving his worth as a UFC-level fighter. In the end though, Condit was just a little too much for him, and in the third round he showed exactly why heís one of the most highly regarded fighters out there at 170lbs. Really his only faults are a slightly weak wrestling game and if anything, too much aggression as he leaves himself open sometimes, but then without that aggression he wouldnít be the Natural Born Killer. For my money thereís nobody more exciting to watch in all of MMA right now and this fight again showed why.

Heavyweight Fight: Ben Rothwell vs Gilbert Yvel

Originally this was set for the Spike TV portion of the card, but it was switched with Dunham-Griffin. I guess Spike wanted a fast-paced LW war rather than a probable HW slopfest. On paper, despite his dodgy record as of late, I actually thought this fight favoured Yvel, as heís a far better technical striker and Rothwellís gameplan for every fight seems to involve standing and banging. My pick was Yvel in an upset knockout.

Fight gets started and the crowd shower Yves Lavigne with boos as heís introduced, probably for the Wiman-Danzig gaffe earlier. Big right hand from Rothwell to begin and he rushes Yvel swinging, and right away they trade bombs! Rothwell looks for a takedown, and avoids a guillotine to bring Yvel down into half-guard. Into side mount for Big Ben and then into full mount. Nice reversal by Yvel though and he gets on top and swings away before Rothwell pops up and goes for the takedown again. Slam from Rothwell puts Gilbert down again and immediately passes to side mount. Ben keeps the position and does little for a while, perhaps concerned with Yvelís explosiveness. Good elbow lands though and then he tries for the Hughes crucifix, but Yvel rolls him over and escapes to his feet! Ben tries to get him down again and succeeds, planting Yvel against the cage before taking full mount. Ben moves him away from the fence and drops some punches, but Yvel tries to explode form the bottom and then goes for a heel hook! He canít lock it up though and Ben slips back into side mount before locking up the crucifix. Yvel looks in trouble as Ben drops some shots, but almost gets rolled over! A second attempt works and now Gilbert has the back, before standing up to deliver a big knee! Yvel pushes forward swinging as Rothwell looks exhausted, and he gets rocked by some BIG PUNCHES! Superman punch from Gilbert but Ben gets the clinch and slows the pace down. Both men look tired in fact. Big knee from Rothwell, answered by a high kick and they trade on the buzzer. Well, that was a fun round. 10-9 Rothwell despite the late rally from Gilbert.

Second round and Rothwell bulls forward for the takedown again, bringing Yvel to the mat early. Gilbert gets full guard this time and almost slaps on a triangle, but Ben easily gets out and passes to side mount. These dudes are TIRED. Ben grinds his elbow into the face, but looks too exhausted to really open up with any ground-and-pound and he practically puts himself into half-guard. Ben tries to mount, almost gets rolled, but then manages to get the mount. Ben traps the left arm and drops some elbows, looking to finish, but Yvel gets an underhook somehow and escapes to his feet in the clinch. Rothwell drives forward and gets another takedown, landing in half-guard. Pace has slowed to an absolute crawl. Yvel somehow gets a keylock from the bottom (!) though and uses it to sweep, and then drops some BOMBS on Rothwell who looks to be in deep trouble! Yves Lavigne looks ready to stop things as Rothwell takes some HUGE SHOTS...but naturally Gilbert runs out of gas and slows up with the offense. Rothwell manages to get an underhook and stands, and then drops for another takedown and gets it. Into half-guard for Ben but he does very little until suddenly getting full mount. Ben is too exhausted to land anything more than two elbows though and thatís the round. Got to be 10-9 Yvel for the near-stoppage methinks.

Third and final round and Yvel looks on the verge of a heart attack. He shoots on a single leg, but Rothwell stuffs it and gets on top in the guard. Armbar attempt from Yvel but Rothwell easily avoids and passes to side mount. Crowd begin to boo now as Rothwell grinds with an elbow. Mount for Ben but Yvel manages to escape swiftly to half-guard. Well, I say swiftly but I mean with the speed of a man moving through thick treacle. Full guard now for Gilbert. Rothwell works back into side mount and looks to try a straight armlock, but heís too gassed to lock it up and goes back to the short elbows. Hughes crucifix from Rothwell but even from there he canít muster up enough offense to finish the fight. Yvelís arm slips free but it doesnít look like heís capable of getting up from here. Round peters out with Rothwell in side mount. Got to be Rothwellís fight after that.

Scorecards have it 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 for a unanimous decision for Ben Rothwell. No surprises there. The first two rounds of this were a Heavyweight slopfest to make Brad Imes proud, as despite gassing early both men threw some serious bombs, pulled off inexplicable ground reversals and generally had me guiltily going crazy. The third round stunk out the joint as neither man had the energy to do much at all, but is it any surprise given the pace of the first two? Wonít win any awards or anything but I sort of enjoyed this fight. Donít tell anyone!

Welterweight Fight: Martin Kampmann vs Paulo Thiago

This was another piece of excellent matchmaking Ė a fight between two very evenly-matched, top ten fighters Ė although to be fair you can throw any random names from 170lbs together at this point and come up with a great fight on paper. Bit of a tough one to call as Kampmannís technically the better striker but is very underrated on the ground, while Thiagoís the better grappler but he has serious power standing too. With the stench of the Paul Daley loss still hovering over Kampmann and Thiago on a bit of a roll, I ended up taking the Brazilian.

Fight begins and they circle before Kampmann lands with a jab. Thiago pushes forward, but Kampmann keeps him on the end of the jab nicely. Good right hand from Kampmann. Another one lands to counter a low kick. Stiff jab lands for Kampmann again and he avoids a flurry from Thiago. Beautiful combo from Kampmann snaps Thiagoís head back. The Brazilian lunges for a single leg but Kampmann avoids. Head kick is narrowly blocked by the Dane. Kampmann pushes forward with a double jab and follows with a sharp right that drops Thiago, who quickly dives on a single leg out of desperation. Kampmann sprawls out to stuff it, but Thiago hits a sick leg sweep to drop him down. Kampmann grabs a guillotine from full guard, but Thiago postures out into half-guard and manages to get himself free. They stand and Thiago hits a throw, but Kampmann quickly pops back up and defends a takedown by getting a guillotine and transitioning to a north/south choke! Thiago looks to be in trouble, grimacing, but he pops free and winds up in another guillotine before Kampmann forces him to his back to end the round. Great round for Martin Kampmann, 10-9.

Into the 2nd and Kampmann opens with the jab again. Good leg kick follows as Kampmann pushes the action more. Thiago seems to be looking for the one-hit counterpunch. Kampmann closes the distance and they clinch, where he lands a knee before avoiding a big uppercut. Thiago really swings some wild haymakers, but he canít land any of them as Kampmann gets out of the way, then clips him with an uppercut coming forward. Takedown attempt from Thiago, but Kampmann sprawls out and then spins to take the back. Thiago sort of turns to his side and Kampmann appears to be setting up for an arm triangle, but Thiago turns his body to avoid. Thiago looks to be going for a kimura from the bottom, but Kampmann has his back and his base looks too strong to get caught. They wriggle around for a moment with Thiago still looking for the kimura, and finally he uses it to sweep and come out in side mount. Thiago looks for mount, but Kampmann avoids with an underhook and escapes to his feet, and in the clinch he rocks the Brazilian with a pair of knees before looking for a DíArce on the buzzer. 10-9 Martin Kampmann and heís shutting Thiago down here.

Round Three and Thiagoís eyes look badly marked up. Looping left hook lands glancingly for the Brazilian. Kampmann looks to establish the jab again and then pops him with a right to counter a haymaker. Into the clinch and Kampmann forces him to the ground in full guard. He stands over Thiago and avoids some upkicks to drop back down into half-guard, and then he steps over to mount and looks for the arm triangle! Thiago turns to his side, but heís in trouble as whichever way he rolls heís got problems. Thiago chooses to give his back, and he does well to shake Kampmann off and then goes for a single leg. Kampmann stuffs it and gets back on top, looking to take the back again. Good knee from Kampmann and he forces the Brazilian to his back again, where he looks for the DíArce. Thiago turns his back and takes some punches, then manages to work free to his feet. Overhand right from Thiago and he shoots, but Kampmann stuffs it and gets on top again. Arm triangle attempt again and Kampmann mounts this time, before taking the back, and he continues to look for the choke but Thiago does a solid job of defending and manages to survive the end of the round.

Judges have it a total shutout, 30-27 all around for Martin Kampmann. Well, his back was against the wall after the Daley loss given this was his first fight against another top ten guy since, and Kampmann delivered in style, putting in arguably his best ever UFC performance to completely outclass Paulo Thiago. I expected him to have an advantage standing, but to see him roll over a BJJ guy the calibre of Thiago on the ground like that was surprising. Not the most exciting fight but it was solid from a technical standpoint and I think Jake Shields is going to have his hands full with this guy if he fights like this again.

Heavyweight Fight: Mirko Cro Cop vs Pat Barry

Initially Cro Cop was supposed to fight Ben Rothwell here in a fight originally scheduled for UFC 110, but Joe Silva ended up switching Rothwell with striker Barry, who was so desperate to fight one of his idols that heíd offered to fly to Australia on two days notice (!) to step in for that fight. With both men being great kickboxers but Mirko looking way past his prime, Barry seemed like the logical pick here, and with a great countdown show to get his personality over it looked like the UFC might have a star on their hands if he could win. Interestingly, coming in Cro Cop dropped the stoic personality in favour of a joking character, which is one of the oddest turns of events I can ever recall in MMA!

Round One begins and Barry swings with the right hand from the off. A brief clinch is quickly broken and Barry lands a leg kick. Right hook suddenly drops Mirko but Barry allows him back to his feet. Strike one to Barry. They continue to circle, waiting for their opportunity to strike. Leg kick lands again for Barry. Mirkoís struggling with the speed at the minute. Cro Cop misses a side kick and a hook kick. Head kick misses for Barry. Stepping-in right hand drops Cro Cop again and this time he looks hurt even though he gets up quickly. Cro Copís face looks swollen already, perhaps a broken cheekbone. They exchange leg kicks with both men landing. Head kick blocked by Mirko. Hard leg kick lands for Cro Cop. The left side of Mirkoís face is badly swollen now. Into the clinch and Mirko tries a belly-to-belly throw, taking Barry down for a split second before they pop up. Uppercut lands for Cro Cop on the way out and he narrowly avoids a massive head kick, causing Barry to grin. Mirko calls for a high-five and the crowd pop wildly as they stop fighting for a second to hug. Who is this guy and what has he done with the real Mirko Cro Cop? They continue to circle off, and the round ends with Barry throwing a high kick. 10-9 Pat Barry for the two knockdowns. Mirkoís face is looking a bit freakish.

Between rounds Cro Copís corner advise him to throw the left high kick out of nowhere. Well, it worked in PRIDE I guess.

Second round and indeed, Mirko throws out the left high kick but Barry blocks it. Good body kick from Mirko and he follows with a flurry. Leg kick from Barry. Right hook from Barry and he dodges a side kick. They clinch up and Mirko muscles him to the cage and hits some hammer fists to the thighs. Barry tries a trip, but Mirko blocks it. More punches to the thighs from Cro Cop. Referee separates them and they restart. Cro Cop looks more aggressive now and he lands a leg kick. Head kick misses for Barry and Cro Cop tries to grab a guillotine as he slips, using it to take top position in half-guard. Little action follows as Barry attempts to force his way out. Full mount for Mirko and Barry gives his back, but Cro Cop canít get a choke in and ends up landing some small hooks to the side of the head. Barry looks tired here, taking some really deep breaths with Mirko on his back. Seconds to go and Barry tries a couple of the Roger Huerta back elbows before the round ends. Much better round for Cro Cop and he gets the points on my scorecard, 10-9. Barry may be in trouble here because he looks gassed.

Third and final round and who wouldíve thought this fight would go this far? Hug to begin and the crowd pop loudly. Left high kick narrowly misses for Cro Cop right away. They circle and Mirko BUSTS OUT THE AXE KICK!~! Word! Barry teases a takedown attempt and then throws a combo instead. Mirko gets a clinch and looks for a takedown, but Barry breaks off. High kick misses for Mirko and Barry sweeps the leg from under him to drop him for a second. Good jab for Mirko. Striking exchange continues and both men are looking to finish now. Big left hook narrowly misses for Barry. Big uppercut from Cro Cop snaps Barryís head back and Mirko follows by muscling him into the fence. They trade elbows inside the clinch but Mirko begins to take over. Yves Lavigne breaks the clinch and now Mirko OPENS UP with a BIG COMBO, rocking Barry heavily! Another combo drops Barry hard and Cro Cop pounces, looking to finish as Barry winds up trapped against the fence! Big left elbow hurts Barry and he turns his back and Mirko SLAPS ON THE CHOKE AND BARRY TAPS!~!

Wow. Crowd go insane as Mirko celebrates post-fight, and hell, that was perhaps his best performance in the UFC as not only did he win but he came back from a bad first round to do so. Still didnít look like the old PRIDE Mirko but that guy is long gone now and this is probably the best Cro Cop we can hope for if weíre honest. I think a lot of this performance came from Barry both gassing and becoming emotionally confused when his idol decided to play Mr. Friendly, but hey, you canít take a thing away from Cro Cop I guess and at least he seemed to be enjoying his career here which he hasnít since the Gonzaga knockout I would say. Even in the post-fight interview he has fun, putting Barry over before telling Dana White not to be stingy and to give him the Submission of the Night bonus! Enjoyable stuff.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Chuck Liddell vs Rich Franklin

You have to feel for Liddell in a way. Forced into retirement by Dana White after his KO losses at the hands of Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua, he promised to get himself back into prime shape for a comeback and when he did so, he was matched with his favourite victim, Tito Ortiz Ė a guy who heíd already whooped twice without difficulty. But of course Tito ended up dropping out and needing further spinal surgery and do they call in another good style match? Fuck no. Chuck gets matched with Rich Franklin who, while on the downside of his career himself, still clearly has more in the tank than Liddell. My pick here was Franklin, and I figured heíd come out on the right end of a short striking war.

Funny side note Ė one of the judges is actually Bill Mahood, the Canadian fighter who lost to Forrest Griffin in his first post-TUF fight at UFC 53! Good to see a proper MMA guy get involved in judging, thatís for sure. Unless of course he was the judge who called Griffin-Dunham for Tyson...

We get underway and they circle before Franklin lands an inside leg kick and clips Chuck with a glancing left hand. Chuck pushes forward with a big swing of the right, but Rich gets out of the way. Franklin follows with a leg kick, but Chuck surprisingly answers with one of his own! Left hand lands for Rich in a brief trade. Chuck comes forward with another leg kick. Franklin clinches and looks for the takedown, but Chuck stuffs it and then opens up with a HARD kick that Franklin blocks with his arm and follows with another kick this time to the body. Franklin pushes forward and lands with a good right hook. Another right lands for him but Chuck counters with an uppercut and they trade briefly. Takedown from Liddell and he pins Rich into the cage! Did not expect that. He looks to pass the butterfly guard, landing a couple of punches, but Rich reverses up to his feet and Chuck has a cut over his left eye as they trade and break off. Announcers speculate that the cut was caused by a clash of heads during the takedown. Body kick lands for Chuck as he comes forward. Franklin comes back with a combination as Liddell tries to swing back. Body kick for Rich. Leg kick from Franklin, but he eats a counter right from Chuck that staggers him! Liddell comes wading forward, but takes a left from Franklin that slows him down! He recovers and comes forward swinging again as Rich looks to back up, but then comes back with a left. Franklin begins to push forward now and lands with a body kick. Seconds to go now and Chuck lands a high kick and a pair of rights as he comes forward! Rich looks to fire back and Liddell slips down for a second, then pops up into the clinch and lands an elbow! Chuck looks to follow up and swings a left-right, but Franklin counters with a RIGHT HAND AND DROPS HIM!~! Liddell goes down like a corpse and one more right hand finishes it. WOW.

Post-fight Chuck is down for a long time and the announcers outright say he ought to retire now as thatís the third nasty KO in a row that heís suffered. Iíd agree as his chin seems cracked at this point Ė replay shows the shot that dropped him wasnít really a big one, it just landed on the jaw and turned out the lights. The problem for Chuck is that in his prime, he always relied on sick reflexes and an iron chin to go along with his one-shot KO power, and despite him getting into amazing shape for this fight, no amount of strength and conditioning is going to bring back his reflexes and his chin at the age of 40. If this is the end for him though, then itís the very definition of going out swinging, as this was one hell of a fight before the ending. Both men came out and THREW DOWN and we got a fight that lived up to the hype and more. Incredibly in the post-fight interview Franklin tells Joe Rogan that his left arm is broken from the kick that Chuck threw early on, and the replay confirms that. Good lord. Rich Franklin is one tough bastard and on an added note, I hope the idiots who scoffed at the UFC billing him as a Ďlegendí leading into this fight can shut up now Ė the guy has beaten Liddell, Silva, Shamrock, Tanner, Okami and with different judges probably wouldíve beaten Henderson too. Which is a hell of a resume and in my eyes makes him a legend, so fuck the haters. Great main event to end the night.

-Highlight reel rolls after we see Chuck taking the long walk back to his locker room, probably for the final time.

Final Thoughts....

This was a really good show, probably the best UFC card of the year up to this point in fact. None of the fights were bad, including the prelims, although Sobotta-Wilks was somewhat dull and Wiman-Danzig had a bullshit finish. Condit-MacDonald was the best fight, a low-end FOTYC, but Barry-Cro Cop, Griffin-Dunham and Kampmann-Thiago were really good too, and the main event turned into a real war between two of the post-TUF eraís biggest stars and ended in vicious fashion. Wonít be remembered as a truly classic show or anything, but UFC 115 is still worth a high recommendation from me.

Best Fight: Condit-MacDonald
Worst Fight: Wiman-Danzig

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 116-119, Versus 2, Fight Night 22
WEC: 50
Strike Force: Houston
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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