At first glance many fight fans will look at the upcoming UFC 115 card in Vancouver and be disappointed. I would urge those fans to take another look, as I think UFC 115 could be a classic case of first impressions not always being right.
Yes, the main event is a little lack lackluster for the UFC's debut in the Pacific North West, but it does at least feature two legends of the sport. It's the other fights on the main card, and the under card that might turn this PPV event into something more then many people think it will be.
Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin as a main event is certainly not what Vancouver UFC fans would have been hoping for, but it is at least a more intriguing fight then another Liddell vs. Ortiz fight would have been.
Franklin and Liddell are former UFC Champions and both are in need of a big win on June 12th which should give the fight some much needed energy.
For "The Iceman" this really is a make or break fight as he has gone 1-4 in his last five fights and got knocked out in the last two. If Chuck loses this, the talk of retirement will be even harder to ignore. For Franklin, this is a chance to re-establish his career, after fighting two meaningless catch-weight fights at 195lbs with mixed results.
Put it this way, I think Liddell vs. Franklin may be a better fight then everyone expects it to be.
Before Liddell vs. Franklin headlines the event there are a number of potentially mouth watering fights in Vancouver that could really make this an above average card.
Mirko Cro Cop is without question no longer the force he was in PRIDE, but the ability to deliver knockout shots remains, and in Pat Barry he may finally have an opponent willing to stand and bang with him. Cro Cop needs to win this fight as any remaining draw power the Croatian has is on its last legs.
Barry is 2-1 in the UFC and enjoyed an excellent stand up war in his last fight where he stopped Antoni Hardonk with strikes in the Second Round. I think this is one of the few times where you can say this fight will not go to the ground. There could very will be some fireworks in British Columbia!
For me, the most important fight at UFC 115, in terms of any divisional rankings or title implications, is the contest of Paulo Thiago vs. Martin Kampmann.
Thiago is amongst the top ten in the Welterweight division, and a win in Vancouver will cement his claim to a title shot. He is 3-1 in the UFC and has wins over Josh Koscheck, Jacob Volkmann, and Mike Swick with his only loss coming to Jon Fitch who is the consensus No. 2 fighter in the division.
In his short time in the UFC Thiago has proved that he is for real, and should not be taken lightly by any fighter. Martin Kampmann also has a win over Volkmann and has looked solid since dropping down to 170lbs.
He was making a steady surge up the rankings before he met Paul Daley's fist at UFC 103. With a bounce back win already taken care of, his fight with Thiago is a real chance to put his name back in the title mix.
The other featured main card contests are Gilbert Yvel vs. Ben Rothwell and Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald.
Rothwell and Yvel enter their contest on the back of a loss, and this is most likely a loser leaves town fight for both fighters, which should mean a good contest. Yvel has power but Rothwell is durable. I think this will be a very good back and forth contest.
Former WEC Champion Carlos Condit gets the honor of fighting the obligatory Canadian on every card north of the 49th as he faces Rory MacDonald.
Condit will be looking to continue his rebuilding process after suffering a loss in his UFC debut vs. Kampmann.
MacDonald sits at 10-0 and is currently undefeated in his MMA career. He is on a roll and will be looking to beat Condit on what will most likely be the biggest fight of his career as he fights in his home province of Brittish Columbia.
Although the card lacks recognizable names for casual fans, I am pretty confident it will be a stellar night of fights. When you add a strong under card topped by a superb lightweight tilt of Evan Dunham vs. Tyson Griffin to the fights I have already mentioned, UFC 115 suddenly has a rosier tint to it.
Be sure to stay tuned in to my thoughts on the build up to UFC 115 as I will be their live for B/R covering the event.
That's all for now. Have I changed your thinking on UFC 115?