To the untrained eye UFC 115—headlined by a bout between legendary former champions Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin—looks to be a mediocre card but rest assured that this not the case. While UFC 115 is lacking the “name” power casual fight fans look for, the card is littered with intriguing matchups that are sure to be entertaining.
Rather than doing a run of the mill Preview/Prediction piece talking about all the fights on the card I figured I would try something new and make my predictions for what fighters will win the coveted “Fight of the Night”, “Submission of the Night” and “Knockout of the Night” bonuses.
Knockout of the Night
One of the aspects of MMA that makes the sport so incredibly exciting and explosive is the four ounce gloves. I think of them as the “great equalizer” because it only takes one well placed shot to end someone’s night.
Looking at the card I see two matchups that have vicious KO written all over them; Gilbert Yvel v. Ben Rothwell and Pat Barry v. Mirko Cro Cop.
While 31 of Yvel’s 36 career victories have come by way of KO or TKO, I’m going with Pat Barry over Cro Cop to win the award.
Sadly, Cro Cop is a shell of what he once was during his run in Pride, and Barry has the explosive power and kickboxing prowess to take full advantage of Cro Cop’s diminishing skills.
Submission of the Night
While everyone loves seeing a great KO, the grappling side of MMA is what I really enjoy. What’s better than watching a skilled tactician exploit the tiniest mistake made an opponent?
A fighter to keep your eye on for this award is the experienced, yet unheralded self taught submission specialist, Mike Pyle, who owns 16 career submission victories.
Even though Pyle is an impressive fighter and a wizard on the mat, I am going to go out on a bit of a limb here and take Paulo Thiago.
I know his opponent, Martin Kampmann, has never been submitted but Thiago just impresses the hell out me every time I see him fight and I truly believe it will only be a matter of time before he is challenging for the UFC welterweight title.
Fight of the Night
This is where things get a little tricky, because there are so many elements that go into what makes for a great fight. Looking at the matchups for UFC 115 I see three prime FOTN candidates.
The first one that comes to mind is the evening’s main attraction between Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin. Both guys are obviously on the down slope of their careers, but these are two guys who just “get it”. They understand the importance of entertaining the fans first and foremost and judging by Liddell's new physique, it looks like these two could be looking for one last hoorah.
Another fight that could easily steal the show is the welterweight matchup between former WEC champion Carlos Condit and the undefeated Rory MacDonald. Both guys are well-rounded and they are looking to establish themselves in a very competitive UFC welterweight division.
While both of those matchups have the potential to be very exciting the fight that will win FOTN honors will be the lightweight battle between Xtreme Couture teammates, Evan Dunham and Tyson Griffin.
After garnering FOTN honors on five separate occasions, I think it may be impossible for Griffin to be involved in anything other than a fast paced, action-packed fight.