The UFC is back after a short two-week hiatus. Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin will face off in the main even Saturday. Liddell was originally supposed to fight Tito Ortiz III, as the organi-zation was trying to stick with the theme of matching up fighters that coached opposing teams on The Ultimate Fighter show.
While the hatred between Liddell and Ortiz didn’t match the feud between Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans, this would have made for an interesting storyline Saturday. However, Ortiz had to pull out of the fight due to neck surgery and was replaced by Franklin. The 35-year-old Franklin has stepped in as coach on the TV show as well.
The Ultimate Fighter season finale will be held on June 19, so the winner in the direct matchup of the coaches will be determined before a winner emerges out of the field of athletes they mentored. The fight hasn’t gained as much media attention as UFC 114 did, but the matchup between Franklin and Liddell should be a good one.
The UFC returns to Canada for the fourth time after UFC 87, UFC 97, and UFC 113. Saturday’s event marks the first time the UFC will set up their camp in British Columbia. The province passed a bill in December of last year to sanction MMA fighting.
Liddell vs. Franklin
While many were hoping for a matchup between rivals Liddell and Ortiz, this fight might be more interesting. Ortiz isn’t the fighter he once was, and Liddell vs. Franklin will be a lot closer fight.
Liddell comes into the fight with a 21-7 record. The 40-year-old is known for his striking power. He has a strong background in Kenpo karate and kickboxing. He also wrestled on the collegiate level which gives him the tools to control a fight. However, his age is showing and his retirement is overdue. He lost four of his last five fights with his latest victory coming in December of 2007.
Franklin is five years younger than Liddell. Ace (derived from his resemblance to Ace Ventura actor Jim Carrey) is a great striker as well. His main background lies in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which gives him the grappling tools to keep up with Liddell. Franklin’s intelligence could be a big advantage in this fight. He is a master of strategy in the octagon and comes prepared for every opponent. He has also shown his brains outside the cage, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Education.
All of our preferred sportsbooks see Franklin as the favorite. I think they are right, and the younger smarter fighter will end up on top. If you are with me, Pinnacle has the best value for the favorite at -140. If you can’t use Pinnacle, make sure to check out Bookmaker or 5Dimes. They offer Franklin at -145.
If you think Liddell can pull off the upset, Pinnacle again is the front runner with its +127 line. 5Dimes has the Iceman at +125.
Mirko Filipovic vs. Pat Barry
Filipovic, aka Cro Cop, and Barry might as well get rid of the cage. Both of them come from a strong kickboxing background and this will most likely be a stand-up bout.
Cro Cop is 35 and nearing the end of his career. He holds a 26-7-2 MMA record, but his most recent fights have shown that he is on the decline. He recorded a TKO win in his latest fight against Anthony Perosh, but he is 3-3 in his UFC career. Cro Cop hasn’t fought any tough opponents in the UFC either.
Barry finds himself on the other end of the spectrum. Even at age 30 he is an up-and-coming fighter in the UFC. All five of his wins in his MMA career have come via KO. Barry’s sole loss came by submission in a UFC bout against Tim Hague.
While the ground game is one of his weaknesses, Barry doesn’t have to worry about that in Saturday’s bout. Cro Cop will try to use his striking and kicking to win the fight, and so will Barry.
Barry goes into the fight as the favorite, and I see him flourishing in this role. Cro Cop’s age is catching up with him and I don’t think he can pull off an upset.
Bodog offers the best deal on Barry at -155. Pinnacle has Cro Cop at +141, Bookmaker and 5Dimes run his line at +140.
Paulo Thiago vs. Martin Kampmann
Thiago (13-1) has less UFC experience going into this bout, but it should be a close one. A member of the BOPE, the elite special force in Brazil, Thiago is known for his grappling, so he will try to control the fight on the ground. However, he has improved in his striking, and can be dangerous standing up as well.
Kampmann (16-3) is the exact opposite of Thiago. He is better known for his striking ability, but possesses a great, underrated ground game. Thiago can’t solely focus on getting the Dane on the ground, as he might find a worthy grappling opponent in Kampmann.
Kampmann goes into the fight as the underdog, but he definitely has the skills and the will to fight with Thiago. I believe the Hitman has it in him to surprise the Brazilian.
This fight offers great value if you believe in an upset. If you think Kampmann can beat Thiago, Bodog is the place to go. They offer far better value for an upset (+200) than Bookmaker (+165) and 5Dimes (+180). If you think Thiago comes out on top, Bookmaker (-205) beats out the other books.
Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel
Both fighters come in with many MMA fights under their belts, but each of them has only one UFC fight. And both of them lost their sole fights in the organization.
Yvel (36-14-1) is known for his kickboxing ability, but went down on a TKO against Junior Dos Santos at UFC 108. He knows how to use his kicks and knees, and can an opponent in a stand-up fight.
Rothwell (30-7) is the better all-around fighter. His size and strength are his biggest assets, and he is surprisingly quick for a big guy. While he is better known for his striking, he has a good ground game as well. And that could be the key to this fight.
If Rothwell can get Yvel on the mat, he will be able to control the fight. I think Rothwell can use his size and strength and take down the smaller Yvel. He will either finish him off in the ground game or win by decision.
If you are with me, go to Bookmaker to place your bet. They offer the best value for Rothwell at -145. If you believe in an upset, Bodog (+135) is the place for you to go.
Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald
The 20-year-old MacDonald is undefeated in MMA contention. He takes a 10-0 record into the octagon Saturday. But he runs into a more experienced fighter in Condit. MacDonald has won all of his ten fights by stoppage. He brings a great mix of Jiu-Jitsu to the cage. He won his sole UFC bout, when he beat Mike Guymon by submission in January.
Condit has a lot more fights under his belt. He is 24-5 in MMA fighting and 6-1 in UFC fights. He is a well rounded fighter and might have the better endurance, if the fight goes the distance. He can beat his opponents with his striking, but has several submission wins on his record as well.
MacDonald is the narrow favorite, but I think Condit can use his experience and pull off the upset here. If you are with me, place your bet at Bookmaker or 5Dimes for the best value at +110. If you think MacDonald can keep his streak going, go to Bodog for a -125 line.
PRELIMINARY CARD (SPIKE)
Tyson Griffin vs. Evan Dunham
Dunham, like MacDonald, is 10-0 in his career. He has three UFC victories to show for. His background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu helps his ground game, but he can strike as well.
Griffin (14-2) is more experienced and loves the ground and pound game. He has to be careful in this bout though, because Dunham could take the control from him with his wrestling skills.
Dunham goes in as the heavy underdog, but I think he could pull off the upset here and stay undefeated. If you see Dunham winning, go to Bookmaker for a +195 line. If you think Griffin is too experienced and will come out on top, 5Dimes (-215) is the place for you to go.
Mac Danzig vs. Matt Wiman
Wiman (11-5) is well rounded and his Jiu-Jitsu skills could prove critical Saturday. He is 5-3 in UFC fights, but lost two of his last three bouts.
Danzig (20-7-1) is more experienced, but might be nearing the end of his UFC career at age 30. He is good in the ground game, but might be a little inferior to Wiman.
Danzig is the favorite, but I think Wiman will improve his UFC record and take down and finish off the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 6. 5Dimes offers the best value for Wiman (+105), while Pinnacle (-110) and Bodog (-120) are the best places to go to bet on Danzig.
PRELIMINARY CARD (NOT TELEVISED)
David Loiseau vs. Mario Miranda
Loiseau (18-9) is a striker; Miranda (11-1) is a grappler. This will be a very close bout, and wrestlers usually have the better chance by controlling the fight. I think Miranda will pull win this one. Bodog offers the best value for Miranda (-185), 5Dimes and Bokmaker are the places to go for Loiseau (+170)
James Wilks vs. Peter Sobotta
Wilks (7-3) is 1-1 in the UFC. He is the better striker. (8-2) is trying to bounce back from a unanimous decision loss in his UFC preview. He is well-rounded and the better grappler. I’m going with my mantra again, picking the grappler over the striker. And there is a lot of value in an upset here. Bookmaker has Sobotta at +275. If you think the favorite will come through, go to Bodog for a -340 line.
Ricardo Funch vs. Claude Patrick
Funch (7-1) has a strong Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background, but he can strike. Patrick (11-1) can adapt to almost any situation, but he is not as strong of a striker, plus he doesn’t have any UFC experience. I think the better rounded Funch will take this one despite being the underdog. 5Dimes offers the best value at +260. If you think Patrick will take this one, Bodog offers the vest line at -290.
Mike Pyle vs. Jesse Lennox
Lennox (15-2) goes in as the slight favorite against the more experienced Pyle (18-7-1). Lennox is a pure wrestler while Pyle is better rounded. This one should come down to the ground game though, and I see Lennox coming out on top. Bodog has the best line for Lennox at -125, and 5Dimes is your best bet for Pyle (+105).