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UFC 115

Liddell vs. Franklin

Odds - Preview - Analysis


Once upon a tine, not long ago, boxing was king when it came to the fight game. Ok, maybe it was long ago for some folks, but for me, it seems like yesterday. You had Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and a boatload of other contenders worthy of getting in the ring. Before Tyson's turn you had Sugar Ray Leonard, Hagler and Hearns. Ask any young fight fan today to name some boxing Champs and you'd be lucky if any could name Floyd Mayweather, boxings hottest ticket.

These days, MMA is KING!

Mixed martial arts again takes over the fight focus from boxing at Bodogís online sportsbook this weekend with UFC 115 taking place Saturday night in Vancouver, a card headlined by a light heavyweight matchup between Chuck Liddell against Rich Franklin. Itís the fourth UFC event to be held in Canada but the first in Vancouver after the city council passed a two-year "trial" period to regulate MMA. The Vancouver Athletic Commission previously sanctioned five MMA events prior to 2007, but then was instructed by the city council to cease sanctioning events.

Originally Liddell (21-7) was supposed to fight Tito Ortiz at UFC 115, but Ortiz pulled out with a neck injury. And clearly Liddell still hasnít gotten over his anger at that.

ďI respect Rich and I think heís a bigger challenge than Tito for sure. So that motivates you more to get in the gym and Iíve got to be prepared for him, heís going to show up in shape,Ē Liddell said. ďHeís going to be there to fight so I better show up ready to go or Iím going to pay for it.Ē

Of course Liddell is one of the legends of the octagon. He won the light-heavyweight title at UFC 52 with a first-round KO against Randy Couture and went on to defend it in four consecutive bouts. But he has won only once in five bouts (decision over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79) since beating Ortiz at the end of 2006.

Franklin (27-5) is a former middleweight champion who has lost two of previous three fights, including his last time in the octagon in September by TKO to Vitor Belfort at UFC 103. A week before Liddell crushed Couture at UFC 52, Franklin had arguably his signature win by knocking out Ken Shamrock in the main event of the finale of the inaugural season of ďThe Ultimate Fighter.Ē

Expect a bruising fight between these two. According to UFC, nearly 70% of Liddellís UFC wins end with his opponent defeated on the canvas. That number jumps to nearly 90% during fights in the past six years. Franklin has a better knockout ratio than Liddell when comparing their UFC wins -- 75% to 70%. Liddell should have the advantage if the fighters get on the ground as he is legendary on takedowns and thatís probably the weakest part of Franklinís game.

As far as what betting trends we are seeing at Bodogís MMA betting lines, Liddell is currently the +120 underdog to Franklinís -150. Itís the first since UFC 79 in 2007 against Silva that Liddell has opened in a bout as an underdog. One interesting note about Saturdayís fight is that bettors donít seem to believe there is any bad blood between Liddell and Franklin and thus not much of a rivalry (just look at that complimentary Liddell quote above). Because of this, the bout is seeing less action than usual for a UFC main event because fans donít seem to really know what to make of the fighters. With so little action, the sharp money on Franklin moved him from an open of -140 to its current number.

There are two other main bouts on the 11-fight card Saturday. Heavyweights Pat Barry (5-1) and Mirko Cro Cop (26-7-2) face off in the co-main event. Despite his relative inexperience, Barry is going into his match as a significant betting favorite at -155 against his boyhood idol. Cro Cop actually opened as a betting favorite (-125) after an impressive KO of Anthony Perosh at UFC 110. Since that open, a combination of sharp action and parlay bets on Barry has moved the line to what it is now. Itís pretty rare for a co-main event bout to see this much line movement and even more rare that the favorite has changed so dramatically.

The other top fight Saturday is a lightweight battle between Mac Danzig, the winner of ďThe Ultimate FighterĒ Season 6 and Matt Wiman, a quarterfinalist on Season 5 of the TV show. Danzig opened as the slight -120 favorite on Bodog with Wiman at -110, and this will be shown on Spike TV. The odds havenít moved a lick, so we are seeing very two-sided action. Danzig (20-7-1) ended a three-match losing streak by beating Justin Buchholz at UFC 109, while Wiman (11-5) had lost two fights in a row before besting Shane Nelson at UFC 107. Danzig has won half of his fights by submission while Wiman has never tapped out in his MMA career so that should be interesting to watch.

Bet UFC 115 at Industry Leader Bodog!

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