Two former middleweight champions battled for supremacy yesterday (Nov. 10, 2012) as former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le took on former UFC Middleweight Champion and future Hall of Famer Rich Franklin in the main event of UFC Macau in Macau, China.
Heading into the fight, Rich Franklin was a massive favorite, considering he was entering the bout following a five round victory over Wanderlei Silva, a man who had stopped Le in his UFC debut.
But that simply was not the case, and surprises like yesterday are the reason MMA is such an incredibly fun and at times unpredictable sport.
Early on, it seemed that the expected outcome of a Franklin victory was only a matter of time as "Ace" utilized superior speed and his range in the striking, consistently hitting Le with his six inch reach advantage and mixing in kicks and avoiding his power.
The 40 year old Le looked a bit slow and perplexed, but that didn't last.
All it took was one good shot.
Just after the two minute mark of the fight, Franklin threw a slightly lazy left leg kick, but he made a dire mistake, dropping his left hand and leaving his chin completely exposed. Le countered with a looping right hook which blasted "Ace" in the sweet spot, sending him crashing to the canvas in a heap in one of the year's most vicious one-punch knockouts.
For Rich Franklin, he was actually doing everything correct, that was, everything right up until the point he got KTFO'd. He was darting in and out, scoring with his strikes and avoiding danger from Le by being the quicker and more active fighter. He looked well on his way to a typical Franklin win but then he got a bit sloppy by leaving his left hand low during the leg kick. One mistake is all it took and at 38 years old, his chin isn't what it used to be, although we've never seen him completely put to sleep from one blow like last night.
If Franklin decides not to retire (he really doesn't have anything left to prove), he should be given the Wanderlei Silva treatment, exciting fights that hopefully won't give him serious trauma. Opponents like Mark Munoz, Ed Herman or perhaps even Court McGee would make sense.
For Cung Le, that was one hell of a punch. He times Franklin's leg kicks perfectly and came over the top with a picture perfect looping right hand. Franklin has fought Anderson Silva twice and a murderers row of fighters like Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida in his storied career and he's never been put out like that even after a huge series of blows. That was incredibly impressive considering Le is 40 years old now and entered this fight coming off a pretty bad foot injury.
Le deserves another big fight, he's more than earned it, but it has to be the right type of opponent which will make for a fun striking battle. A bout against Alan Belcher should he get past Yushin Okami would work nicely. Other potential opponents include Hector Lombard if he beats Rousimar Palhares or perhaps the fighter he was originally scheduled to face in his UFC debut, Vitor Belfort, should "The Phenom" win his next fight.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you as stunned as most of the collective MMA fanbase and media were when Le decked Franklin? What would you do next if you were Rich Franklin?