UFC 115 came in for heavy criticism from people who were unhappy at the lack of top class talent on display. What the main card of UFC 115 might have lacked in top ranked fighters though it more than made up for with a series of spectacular fights.
Local lad Rory Macdonald got the action off to the best possible start by picking Carlos Condit apart for two rounds to open up an insurmountable lead on the scorecards. The Canadian crowd were delighted and nothing short of a third stoppage would have suffice for Condit.
An uncharacteristically animated Greg Jackson sent Condit out for the third and final round telling him that, quite simply, he needed to go to war. Condit took Jackson’s words to heart and set about dominating Macdonald with a brutal display of ground and pound.
With a healthy two round lead presumably under his belt Macdonald only needed to survive this onslaught until the final bell to claim a decision victory. With less than seven seconds remaining and Condit raining down a barrage of unanswered blows the referee stepped in for a dramatic yet highly unpopular stoppage.
It was no more than Condit deserved for an inspiring comeback and tellingly there were absolutely no complaints from his vanquished opponent. This was one of those rare fights were both fighters were able to enhance their reputations and deservedly claimed fight of the night honors.
Next up were the heavyweights and Ben Rothwell and Gilbert Yvel were involved in a back and forth war which surpassed expectations despite an anti climactic third round. Rothwell went at Yvel from the opening bell and set a surprisingly fast pace for a heavyweight. Yvel fought back and was battering Rothwell by the time the bell rang.
Both fighters were already fatigued when round two began but Rothwell was able to take Yvel down and keep him there, although without doing any real damage. When Yvel was able to reverse the position he was far more effective and although Rothwell spent the majority of the round in a dominant position Yvel did far more damage.
Bereft of all energy both fighters came to a virtual stand still in the third round. Rothwell was once again able to secure a dominant position and this time Yvel was unable to escape, spending almost the entire round pinned to the floor. Rothwell was understandably awarded the decision although either of the first two rounds could conceivably have gone to Yvel.
Martin Kampmann showed that he is a serious welterweight contender by defeating Paulo Thiago with an extremely technical display. Thiago was consistently beaten to the punch by some crisp striking and Kampmann appeared on the verge of submitting the BJJ black belt on a couple of occasions. Kampmann is slowly working his way up the welterweight ladder and is probably only one more win away from a title shot.
Crocop vs Barry had all the makings of a classic and it did not disappoint. Barry enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and dropped Crocop with two hard right hands. Crocop seemed surprisingly reluctant to throw his legendary left kick preferring instead to use some unorthodox side kicks and spinning heel kicks. A stand up exchange towards the end of the round was enjoyed by both fighters so much that they shared a premature embrace but this was Barry’s round and Crocop’s face was badly swollen at the end of it.
UFC fans have been waiting to see the Crocop who laid waste to Pride’s heavyweight division inside the octagon and in round two they finally got to see him. Barry was unable to pull the trigger and Crocop showed good versatility to take Barry down and emphatically win the round.
By round three the real Mirko Crocop was ready to stand up. He chased Barry across the Octagon while picking him off with a selection of punches in a performance reminiscent of his Pride days. Once again Crocop was able to take Barry down and this time he secured a rear naked choke for a dramatic submission win.
After such an entertaining build up expectations were high going into the main event and it did not disappoint. Much was made of Liddell’s superior preparation and he showed that even aged 40 he is still able to evolve as a fighter with some vicious kicks, one of which probably broke Franklin’s arm.
At one point Liddell even successfully executed an unlikely take down but he seemed in a hurry to finish the fight and his impatience was to cost him. As the round drew to an end he chased Franklin down and pinned him against the cage, landing a sharp elbow. Liddell lunged forward looking to finish the fight and ran straight into a right hand from Franklin which knocked him out cold.
It was a huge win for Franklin and demonstrates that he is still a force in the light heavyweight division. For Liddell this surely marks the end of a glorious career but the iceman can feel proud that at least he went out on his shield.