Two veteran legends of mixed martial arts rematched last night (June 23, 2012) as Rich Franklin moved his rehab up a couple weeks to take on Wanderlei Silva in the main event of UFC 147 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Taking place at a 190 pound catchweight, Franklin fought a very intelligent gameplan which allowed him to technically pick Silva apart over the course of the five round main event.
But that doesn't mean Silva didn't get his licks in as "The Axe Murderer" nearly put Franklin away with some extremely aggressive striking in the end of the second round.
In the end, however, Franklin was just too technical and too composed to be beaten. So what specific smart strategy put "Ace" over the top? And what happens next for both men?
Follow me after the jump for our Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva UFC 147 post-fight review and analysis:
Silva was surprisingly cautious to get things started, fighting very defensively and allowing Franklin to set the tone for the bout. "Ace" utilized his footwork to repeatedly back the former Pride champion into the fence but, like a cornered wild animal, Silva would lash out with big hooks to back Franklin off whenever he was trapped.
The second round appeared like it would be more of the same as Franklin continued to circle right, away from Silva's power hand but "The Axe Murderer" had different ideas. About halfway through the round, Silva scored a nice right hand which gave him confidence. After connecting, Silva lunged forward and aggressively began swinging heavily. A massive right hand dropped Franklin and for the next 30 seconds, Silva threw caution to the wind and dropped big ground and pound shots in an effort to finish the bout, but Franklin would survive until the horn at the end of the round.
Perhaps tired from his fight-finishing attempt, Silva barely showed up in both rounds three and four. Franklin was able to fully recover and get back into his groove of circling and utilizing both his straight right jab and his right hook. When he found an opening, Franklin would also occasionally flash his power left hand and even a head kick.
One of Franklin's most surprising attacks was a takedown at the end of the third round where he postured up and dropped some very nice punches and elbows on the Brazilian.
Silva didn't show any signs of life until about 90 seconds remaining in the five round fight where he began "hulking up" and started aggressively moving forwards and throwing big punches. He landed a few nice shots on Franklin but "Ace" continued to brilliantly maneuver his foot by circling away from Silva's powerful right hand and he always had a response for Silva's attacks. With the crowd going wild, both men threw caution to the wind in the final 10 seconds and Franklin put a cap on the evening by dropping Silva with his final punch right before the bell.
In the end, Silva only was able to win the second round as Franklin was awarded a 49-46 clean sweep across the board.
For Wanderlei Silva, despite the loss, this fight proved that he's still got quite a bit of fight left in him. He was moments away from scoring a big stoppage in the second round and that may have been what ended up costing him the fight as he took nearly two and a half rounds to recover from that giant burst of frenetic energy. He was extremely active at the end of the fight, but I wonder if he had enough gas to kick it up a notch a bit earlier than that too.
Silva can still bring it so I expect him to definitely get another fight. Potential options include a rematch against Michael Bisping, the loser of the upcoming Tim Boetsch vs. Hector Lombard fight or perhaps Chris Weidman should he lose to Mark Munoz in a few weeks.
For Rich Franklin, this was a very solid performance especially considering all the circumstances that were piling up against him. He didn't look like he'd been away from the Octagon for 17 months and he sure as hell didn't let the hostile crowd get to him. In fact, he even received respectful cheers from the Brazilian faithful once the bout was complete (and addressed them in Portuguese which had to be a plus). Franklin's footwork was amazing in this fight. He was constantly circling away from Silva's powerful right hand, but on top of that, he was always poised and prepared to dive in with a nice counter or a lead jab/right hook. Besides the second round where he got caught, Franklin looked really sharp last night.
I'd like to see Franklin fight Bisping too as it would be a good opportunity to see just where he stands in the middleweight division now. Other potential options include the Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman winner or perhaps Brian Stann once he recovers from his injury.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed by Franklin's execution and his gameplan? How close was Silva to finishing that fight in the second round?
For complete UFC 147 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.