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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Who needs two arms?
Rich Franklin suffered a broken forearm and still managed to knock out Chuck Liddell in four minutes, 55 seconds of the first round Saturday during the main event of UFC 115 at General Motors Place.
“I was happy the fight was over,” Franklin said. “I would never quit, but part of me was thinking about strategy to use in the second and third round (with only one arm).”
After weathering several attacks, Franklin (27-5), the former middleweight champion, landed a short right on Liddell’s jaw and the “Iceman” fell into unconsciousness – his fifth loss in six fights and fourth via knockout. Liddell went to the hospital after the fight and was unavailable for comment.
The victory ended a night of strange decisions, role reversals and controversy.
In the co-main event, noted striker Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic (27-7-2) beat Pat Barry (5-2) with grappling. CroCop won via rear naked choke for the first time in 36 fights, earning the submission at 4:30 of the third round.
Similarly, Franklin’s knockout seemingly came from nowhere. Liddell was winning the 205-pound bout before the knockout, landing high kicks, several powerful right hands and scoring a takedown. He broke Franklin’s left arm early in the round and was on the verge of overwhelming him with aggression when the 10-second warning sounded. But – as in several of the former light heavyweight’s recent bouts – one punch changed everything. Liddell pushed Franklin to the cage, dropped his hands and Franklin snuck in the killshot, adding two more for good measure before.referee Herb Dean stepped in.
“It was a bittersweet for me because Chuck and I are friends,” Franklin said. “I don’t want to be labeled as the person that put him out of the sport.”
While the knockout certainly exhibited Franklin’s toughness, it also likely ended Liddell’s career. Liddell entered the fight in terrific condition, but the recent glut of remarkably similar knockout losses clearly have taken their toll. On Thursday, UFC president Dana White said that another brutal knockout loss would lead to Liddell’s forced retirement from the promotion. He confirmed his intentions Saturday.
“I haven’t talked to Chuck yet, but I hope he agrees,” White said.
Filipovic (27-7-2) is considered one of the best kickboxers in MMA, but for much of the fight Saturday, he wasn’t even the best kickboxer in the cage. Pat Barry (5-2) was too quick and too fluid for CroCop and forced the Croatian to change his tactics. In the weeks leading up to the fight, Barry made much of his admiration for the former Pride legend. His childlike enthusiasm even warmed the normally ice-cold Croatian – they hugged center ring after a first-round exchange. They also had talked about keeping the fight on their feet. In the first round, Barry dropped Filipovic twice with hooks causing CroCop’s left eye to swell badly. Both times, Barry motioned for Filipovic to stand up.
But after more of the same in the second round, Filipovic took advantage of Barry’s slip to force the America onto his back. CroCop took full mount and then Barry’s back to even the fight on the judges’ scorecards.
In the third, CroCop unleashed a flurry of hooks and uppercuts to put Barry down. Pinned against the cage, Barry ate several hammer fists before giving his back again. This time CroCop slid to his back and secured the finishing choke.
“I wanted to prove to everyone that I am not old and they are wrong,” Filipovic said. “My preparation for this fight was the best in my life. I was really dedicated.”
Martin Kampmann (17-3) unveiled previously unseen ground skills by controlling Paulo Thiago for a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). Thiago had submitted eight of his previous 14 opponents. However, the Brazilian landed more power punches than the “Hitman.” Go figure.
Late in the first round, Kampmann seemingly had Thiago (13-2) pinned against the cage and on the verge of being choked out. However, Thiago calmly pivoted 180 degrees to get out of danger. Kampmann held top position for most of the second and took Thiago down in the third. He said he refrained from attempting too much ground-and-pound because he feared Thiago getting back to his feet. Kampmann was attempting to finish the fight via arm triangle at the final bell.
“I was really happy about the victory,” Kampmann said. “I wanted to finish the fight, so I was squeezing so hard in those final seconds.”
Ben Rothwell used superior ground position to beat Gilbert Yvel by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in a yawner. Rothwell (31-7), a former IFL champion, was able to put Yvel in a reverse crucifix in the first round and a schoolyard mount in the second, but never truly threatened to end the fight. Yvel (36-15-1) won the second round with an impressive stretch of ground-and-pound, but could not avoid being exploited on the ground.
“For me, the fight was bittersweet,” Rothwell said. “I got my first win in the UFC. It’s not a victory for me because I got the feeling that Dana and the fans weren’t happy with the fight.”
Carlos Condit (25-5) may have got the win, but British Columbia’s Rory MacDonald carried the crowd. The 20-year-old may entered The Octagon as an oddity – he is the UFC’s youngest fighter – but exited a rising star. He would have won the fight save a controversial – an extremely unpopular – stoppage with nine seconds remaining in the third.
“I was dropping big bombs on him right before the stoppage,” Condit said. “I’m surprised he didn’t quit earlier than that because I hit him with a good shot.”
With fans cheering his every move, MacDonald (10-1) beat Condit with technical striking, sharp wrestling and athleticism for the first two rounds and was leading 20-18, 20-19, 19-19 heading into the third. He acknowledged his fans with a raised fist after simultaneous leg kicks ended the second round (Condit connected with MacDonald’s face, but MacDonald’s chest kick put Condit on his back.)
MacDonald continued to look sharp in the third, until Condit used a Kimura to take top position. Condit landed an elbow that cut MacDonald above the eye. Condit continued to ground-and-pound for the rest of the round until referee Kevin Dorman stepped in at 4:52.
The most anticipated fight of the undercard finished to a smattering of boos as Evan Dunham (11-0) remained unbeaten by controlling Tyson Griffin for a 30-27, 29-28, 28-29 split decision.
“I head people booing, but I’ve trained with Tyson before and I know how hard he is to submit,” Dunham said. “I was looking for the finish, but he’s hard to finish.”
The fight had a lot of buzz leading up to the event. Griffin had won five “Fight of the Night” awards and Dunham won “Submission of the Night” in his last outing. Instead, the former Xtreme Couture training partners were unable to do much damage. The scoring had some in the audience scratching their heads. Judge Tony Weeks gave Griffin (14-3) the first and second rounds, despite the fact that Dunham had more takedowns and had Griffin’s back for long periods.
Each round followed a similar script: Griffin made a mistake, Dunham took his back and Griffin fought off choke attempts until the bell. In the second and third rounds, Griffin stood with Dunham on his back. In the second, Griffin managed to flip Dunham onto his forehead, but still could not shake the Oregonian.
For everything Griffin did right, he followed with a mistake. After each fighter landed effective strikes in the first round, Dunham shot in for a single leg and eventually lifted Griffin’s leg above his head. The shorter fighter was able to fight it off with balance and flexibility, but, minutes later, Griffin whiffed on a punch and fell to the ground. Dunham took his back and stayed there. In the second, Dunham used a pair of takedowns to take control. With a height advantage seemingly larger than the listed four inches, Dunham was able to neutralize Griffin for long periods with leg rides and figure-four wraps. Both came out striking in the third, but Griffin lost his balance again – this time trying to take Dunham down – and gave up his back again.
In easily the most controversial match of the night not involving a Canadian, “The Ultimate Fighter 5” contestant Matt Wiman (12-5) beat Mac Danzig, the TUF 6 champion, via submission at 1:25 of the first round. The call was clearly a mistake. Wiman held Danzig (19-8-1) in a guillotine from top position and told referee Yves Lavigne that Danzig was unconscious. But Danzig was holding his right arm in the air and his left hand was posted against Wiman’s leg. Lavigne grabbed Danzig’s left arm, but it didn’t move and signaled the fight was over. But Danzig was not unconscious, not in immediate danger and was defending the choke.
“It was very unfortunate,” Wiman said. “I thought he was out and I told the ref.”
Danzig was magnanimous in defeat.
“Any referee has a hard job in this sport,” Danzig said. “I was posting on his knee. When (Lavigne) grabbed my arm, I couldn’t let go. That’s how I stay safe. If I had let go, I wouldn’t have been safe.”
Danzig added that he did not hold Lavigne or Wiman responsible for the decision.
“It’s just the circumstances of the sport,” he said.
Mario Miranda (12-1) won his first fight in the UFC by dominating David Loiseau. Miranda controlled the Canadian from the opening bell and finished the fight by TKO (strikes) at 4:07 of the second round.
“I know he’s from Canada, but I expected the crowd to be more split,” Miranda said. “I’m from Seattle and that’s a quick shot up, so I expected it to be 50/50”
Rather than stand with the dangerous striker, Miranda put Loiseau on the mat. In the first round, Loiseau (19-10) did not land an effective strike and walked back to his stool with a swollen left eye. In the second, “The Crow” landed one overhand right and Miranda immediately took Loiseau down again. An elbow opened a cut on the side of Loiseau’s head and he turtled up for the rest of the fight. Miranda landed seemingly 100 unanswered blows before referee Tony Williamson mercifully took the advice of the crowd and ended the fight.
The loss may have been the last hurrah for Loiseau’s UFC career. The 30-year old was once a UFC regular, fighting in The Octagon five times between 2005-2006. After Saturday’s one-sided defeat, however, The Crow is 0-2 since.
“I am sure (matchmaker) Joe Silva will cut him after tonight,” White said. “He’s been around the game for a long time and keep sgetting dominated on the ground.”
TUF 9 winner James Wilks (7-3) showed his jiu-jitsu quality during a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-28) win over Peter Sobotta. In the first round, Wilks attempted an armbar, but Sobotta never allowed his arm to straighten. Sobotta (8-3) powered out of another submission attempt at the end of the round. In the second, the German pressed the action, but Wilks eventually took him down with an inside trip. Sobotta survived a D’arce choke attempt, but was clearly winded in the final seconds of the round. Wilks grew careless in the third. Sobotta scored a takedown, but Wilks turned to grab a foot and gave up his back. Sobottta worked for the rear naked choke for two minutes before Wilks regained top position and turned into his guard.
Canadian Claude Patrick (12-1) made the most of his UFC debut, dominating Ricardo Funch (8-2) from the opening bell. Patrick jumped guard to catch Funch in a guillotine choke at 1:48 of the second round. Patrick nearly finished Funch in the first with a vicious neck crank from the top before the end of the round.
“I was happy with my performance,” Patrick said. “I knew I didn’t have the choke the first time, but I knew it was sunk the second time.”
Jiu-jitsu ace Mike Pyle (20-7-1) overcame a late rally to finish Jesse Lennox (11-3) with a triangle choke at 4:44 of the third round. Trailing in a close fight, Lennox turned up the heat in the final minute – landing several solid punches. Pyle pulled guard and Lennox continued to attack. But Pyle swung his leg over Lennox’ shoulder, locked in the triangle and began elbowing the Iowan’s head. Lennox went limp and the fight was stopped. The exciting finish contrasted a slow start as they measured each other for most of the first round. Late in the first, Lennox staggered Pyle with a pair of punches, but Pyle answered with an uppercut and knee to the face to put Lennox on his back.