Punch Drunk Preview: UFC 115

Mac Danzig (19-7-1) vs. Matt Wiman (11-5-0)

If you can tell me a reason to care about this fight, I will re-write this piece and include your explanation. As I can’t think of one reason why this battle of middling lightweights should eat up any more of my word count, I’m moving on.

How it’s on Spike as one of the “if you like this, drop $50 on the pay-per-view” fights is beyond me.  Danzig vs. Wiman????

Tyson Griffin (14-2-0) vs. Evan Dunham (10-0-0)

I love this fight. Love it. Peanut butter and bacon sandwich love it. Seriously – try it and tell me it’s not awesome…

Both are a notch below the top tier of contenders at 155. Both have improving games that have shown new wrinkles in recent fights, with Griffin finally finishing a fight and Dunham having won his three UFC contests in three different ways.

Oh yeah, they’re teammates too! Awesome.

Winner gets to face a marquee lightweight. Loser still ain’t doing all that bad either.

Carlos Condit (24-5-0) vs. Rory MacDonald (10-0-0)

What do you do with a 20-year-old unbeaten Canadian who just survived an early scare to submit a veteran in the first round of his UFC debut? When it’s Rory MacDonald, you throw him in the cage with former WEC welterweight champ Carlos Condit and see what happens.

If he loses, he’s 20 and lost to a former champ who many still believe has a bright future. If he wins, the kid is a great story, a viable contender and someone who can be around to beat people up for, I dunno, 20 years.

Condit is working with Greg Jackson now, so it will be interesting to see what Master Yoda has taught his new padowan. He’s always been gifted offensively, but if the defensive holes haven’t been filled, he’s in for a long night.

Ben Rothwell (30-7-0) vs. Gilbert Yvel (36-14-1)

In the evenings mandatory match-up of mammoths, Rothwell and Yvel will slug it out in hopes of extending their stay with the UFC one more fight.

Everyone from the Duke Roufus camp has been putting in serious performances of late, so that bodes well for “Big Ben.” Facing “Tropical Storm” Gilbert is dangerous, but certainly not as bad as his night against Cain Velasquez.

Now that Dana White isn’t trying to sell Yvel against an up-and-coming Junior dos Santos, you don’t hear the UFC Prez offering too much praise for the bat-shit crazy badass from the Netherlands.

Paulo Thiago (13-1-0) vs. Martin Kampmann (16-3-0)

Easily the best fight of the night, and I mean that with all due respect to all the other pairings. Not only are these two fairly evenly matched, but they’re fighting for a step into the upper echelon of the welterweight division.

You could argue Thiago has already earned his place at the table, having beaten both Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick, as well as Jacob Volkmann, but you won’t hear him complain. After all, a day not dodging bullets and chasing drug dealers is a walk in the park.

Kampmann went from being in a #1 contender fight with Mike Swick at UFC 103 to getting lit up by Paul Daley in Dallas. Now he’s back to start climbing the ladder again. He’s got all the tools, but he needs to make sure and use them appropriately.

Pat Barry (5-1-0) vs. Mirko Cro Cop (26-7-2)

There shouldn’t be any of that annoying wrestling or grappling in this one, as two kickboxers will stand across from each other and fire leg kicks off until one can’t continue.

Cro Cop is a legend and was lethal. Now he’s more of a fading star who more and more people believe has overstayed his welcome, while the arsenal that once made him the most feared striker on the planet has been MIA for his last few fights.

In Barry, he meets a younger, quicker kickboxer who will be seeking an autograph at some point during the week. He’ll also be seeking to earn a second-straight win and continue the Roufusport roll I mentioned earlier.

Chuck Liddell (21-7-0) vs. Rich Franklin (26-5-0)

As much as I would have loved to see Chuck punch Tito in the head a couple more times, this is a better fight. Franklin is still a tough out for anybody, and presents some challenges for Liddell that will show whether he should have taken Dana White’s advice last April and hung up the four-ounce gloves.

One of these former champions is coming out of this fight with the right kind of momentum to push them towards one final title run. The other is coming away with a whole lot of questions, both from themselves and the media.

As both would much rather be the former than the latter, expect a pretty entertaining fight.

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