The UFC debuts in Vancouver, B.C., Canada with UFC 114 this Saturday night, which airs live from General Motors Place at 10 p.m. EST on pay-per-view. The event sold out in less than thirty minutes, making it the swiftest sellout in UFC history. Canadian fans will be treated to a light heavyweight bout between MMA legends Rich Franklin and Chuck Liddell, plus a variety of other quality MMA match-ups. Below is a main card prediction, how to watch, and full card details.
Main Event Prediction
Though Liddell and Franklin represent two of the bigger names for the casual MMA fan, the truth is both are struggling to stay afloat in the promotion. While the glory days are over for both fighters, a Liddell loss in this bout could actually signal the end of his storied career.
Liddell was scheduled to square off against Tito Ortiz for the third time after they served as opposing coaches on the latest season of "The Ultimate Fighter," but Ortiz was forced out of the bout after neck surgery. Ortiz lost to Liddell in their previous two bouts, and he probably represented an easier path to victory, and for Liddell to forestall retirement. That said, a win over Franklin would do more for his resurrection, so he'll hope to take advantage of the change. Liddell has dropped four of his last five bouts, the last two in devastating fashion. The first was a one-punch KO courtesy of Rashad Evans at UFC 88, the second another brutal TKO from current champ Mauricio Rua seven months later at UFC 97. Liddell's lone triumph in his last five fights was a unanimous decision win over Wanderlei Silva at the end of 2007.
After two decimations at the hands of middleweight champion Anderson Silva, the UFC has wisely kept the popular and talented Franklin relevant by popping him up a few pounds for catchweight and light heavyweight bouts. The inherent problem for Franklin is that he's too small to hang with any of the elite at 205, and there's only so many catchweight bouts to be made. Though his recent record is not as dismal as Liddell's, his 3-2 slate since the second Anderson Silva loss definitely has not set the MMA world on fire, especially considering the wins came against Matt Hamill at UFC 88 and Wanderlei Silva at UFC 99. In his last outing, at UFC 103, Vitor Belfort again showed that Franklin's days at middleweight are over with a first round TKO.
What does all of this mean? It means both fighters will be desperate to win. For Franklin, this will manifest itself in a strategy aimed to avoid the big punch. He will use leg kicks to keep Liddell honest, hoping to keep him off-balance and unable to plant his lead foot for a patented overhand right. Franklin will also stay on the move since Liddell wants to stalk him down, cutting off the corners of escape. This entire strategy is wise since flush shots to the former math teacher's chin normally has him counting stars.
Obviously for Liddell, the blueprint is diametrically opposed. He will be headhunting from the opening bell. He knows it's his best — and only — way to win, so expect to see him far more aggressive than in his last few bouts. Losing, and even losing badly, is one thing. But after the Rua loss, UFC President Dana White immediately shoveled dirt on his grave. Though it was out of friendship and concern doesn't mean Liddell's ears weren't burning. This time is different; Liddell has the prior knowledge that a loss could mean the end of walks to the Octagon, the end of adoring fans, and the end of a stellar career. This could explain his newly sculpted physique, which set the Internet abuzz.
The brain says Franklin will keep his distance, deliver punishing leg kicks, and counter with punches to ride out a unanimous decision. The heart says Liddell, fancy new six-pack abs and all, reaches into his back pocket one more time for an overhand right that finds its sweet mark at some point in the second round. Normally, the Charlotte MMA Examiner follows his head. But this time, he's going with his heart.
How to Watch
Two preliminary bouts, Tyson Griffin vs. Evan Dunham and Mac Danzig vs. Matt Wiman, will air free on Spike TV at 9 p.m. EST. Charlotte MMA fans can obviously purchase the entire pay-per-view through their local cable or satellite provider. UFC.com and yahoosports.com provide online viewing. Normally area bars and restaurants such as Fox and Hound, Hickory Tavern, and Buffalo Wild Wings air the bouts as well. Just make a quick phone call to your local watering hole first to confirm.
Local fans also have the option of watching the fight card at participating movie theaters. Stonecrest 22 at Piper Glen or AMC Concord Mills 24 in Concord, NC will be showing the event. Tickets are priced at $20 and are available at www.FathomEvents.com and at the theater box office.
Full Card Details
In other bouts, Mirko Crop Cop also looks to keep his UFC career alive against Pat Barry in a fight that will be filled with kicks high and low. Two underrated fighters in Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann face off with the winner taking a big step closer to welterweight title contention. Rounding out the remainder of the main card is Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel and Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald.
Here is the full card listing:
Chuck Liddell (21-7-0) vs. Rich Franklin (27-5-0, 1 NC)
Mirko Cro Cop (26-7-2, 1 NC) vs. Pat Barry (5-1-0)
Paulo Thiago (13-1-0) vs. Martin Kampmann (16-3-0)
Ben Rothwell (30-7-0) vs. Gilbert Yvel (36-14-1, 1 NC)
Carlos Condit (24-5-0) vs. Rory MacDonald (10-0-0)
Tyson Griffin (14-2-0) vs. Evan Dunham (10-0-0)
Mac Danzig (20-7-1) vs. Matt Wiman (11-5-0)
David Loiseau (18-9-0) vs. Mario Miranda (11-1-0)
James Wilks (7-3-0) vs. Peter Sobotta (8-2-0)
Ricardo Funch (7-1-0) Claude Patrick (11-1-0)
Mike Pyle (18-7-1) vs. Jesse Lennox (15-2-0)