Fight fans are up in arms about the lack of quality on the card at UFC 115, and to a certain extent, they are right. Rich Franklin vs. Chuck Liddell is a great fight and if this is to be Liddell’s final Octagon appearance, and he is unlikely to get another chance if he loses, it is fitting that he should get to sign off in style as the main event.
It is not by UFC standards a particularly impressive main event. While both men are among the greatest ever fighters to step inside the Octagon, their heyday is long gone. Father time began to caught up with Chuck Liddell at right around about the same time Anderson Silva caught up with Rich Franklin.
Liddell is 2-4 in his last six fights and Franklin is 3-3. These are not the recent records of which UFC headliners are generally made but an exception can be made because of what both Franklin and Liddell have already contributed to the UFC in their glittering careers.
With two aging fighters carrying the card and no belt at stake, you would expect the UFC to have packed the undercard with high profile fighters. Instead there are a surprising lack of star names. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is always an attraction, but given that both the headline fighters are open to accusations of being past their prime, you would have thought the UFC would have saved his fight with the hard-hitting Pat Barry for another day.
It should still be a highly entertaining contest as both men have excellent stand up and are unlikely to want the fight to go anywhere near the ground. The main event is also intruiging, Franklin is still a very well rounded striker but if Liddell could roll back the years with a trademark knock out victory it would be a sensational story.
Paulo Thiago is on a growing list of welterweight contenders to have seen their journey to the top disrupted by Jon Fitch. While it still represents his only loss in 14 outings, the defeat has definitely had an adverse affect on Thiago’s marketability. His opponent Martin Kampmann is a credible welterweight contender but knockout losses to both Paul Daley and Nate Marquardt will linger long in the memory of fight fans. This is an interesting fight at best but is unlikely to persuade people to invest in this particular pay-per-view.
Ben Rothwell has lost two out of his last three fights, one of them against the rapidly declining Andrei Arlovski. Normally a fighter with this sort of recent record would be lucky to find himself on the undercard but surprisingly Rothwell’s fight with Gilbert Yvel is part of the main event. Yvel has lost two of his last three fights, and like Rothwell, will be looking for his first ever win in the UFC.
Carlos Condit has a highly credible record of 24-5 but both his UFC outings have ended in split decisions with him getting the benefit of just one. His opponent Rory MacDonald is 10-0 and will be looking for his eleventh consecutive stoppage win. MacDonald is a serious prospect and will be hoping to give the Canadian fans something to cheer about in the first televised fight of the night.
There is much to like about this card. The match up between Franklin and Liddell is fantastic and far preferable to yet another fight between Lidell and Tito Ortiz; Cro Cop will be hoping to recapture his Pride form, and at 35-years-old, still has plenty to offer as a fighter; and a star could easily be born in the up and coming Canadian, Rory Macdonald.
The problem for the UFC is that there is no sliding scale for their numbered events. Every UFC is expected to be of a similar caliber and this card simply does not have the same depth as recent UFC’s have. It should still be an entertaining event and, regardless of their respective ages, a card featuring Cro Cop, Liddell and Franklin can’t be too bad.