UFC 147: Main Event Preview and Prediction
By Tom Taylor
Just a day after UFC on FX 4, UFC 147 goes down from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, this Saturday. While the card has received criticism for its lack of big names, it certainly still has the potential to be entertaining.
The event is headlined by a rematch between two legends of the sport, Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin. The fight will be contested at a catch-weight of 190 lbs, and while the winner of this fight will by no means become an immediate contender for the UFC middleweight title, both men are winding down in their respective careers and are in must-win situations.
When Franklin and Silva first met, at UFC 99 in Cologne, Germany, during the summer of 2009, Franklin walked away with a unanimous decision win. As is often the case, many people did not agree with the judges’ decision, believing Silva had done enough to win the fight. Now, the two fighters have a chance to provide a more concrete result. When they enter the octagon in Brazil on Saturday, here is what we might expect in this fight between the two MMA icons.
Franklin, who is the former middleweight champion of the UFC, stepped in to replace an injured Vitor Belfort, Silva’s initial opponent. He has not fought in over a year, since losing by unanimous decision to Forrest Griffin at UFC 126. Given his long absence from competition, and his taking this fight on short notice, Franklin may not be adequately prepared come fight night. Ring rust is an undeniable reality in this sport, and on Saturday night, we will see what effect it has on the veteran Franklin. If he wants to win this fight, he will want to use his speed and footwork to pick Silva apart from the outside. Look for the former middleweight king to circle Silva, mixing up jabs, leg kicks, and the occasional hook, while Silva looks to execute the aggressive style that has made him one of the most beloved figures in MMA.
In his heyday, Silva was a dominant champion in the now defunct organization, Pride. He became renowned for his savagery in the ring and they way he brutalized his opponents. While Silva has slowed down considerably since then, in his last fight against Cung Le at UFC 139, he showed that he still possesses an impressive killer instinct, as he put his opponent away with a violent barrage in the second round.
During that fight’s first round, Silva was measured and methodical, taking his time to find his range. It was the same approach we saw him take in his win over Michael Bisping at UFC 110, as he looked less the mindless killer he seemed in Pride. When he rematches Rich Franklin, expect to see Silva execute a similar strategy. While Franklin works the peripherals of the cage, Silva will stalk him, as he warms up to unleash his powerful punches. During this period, Silva will probably eat some hard shots from Franklin, who is also a powerful striker, as he proved when he knocked Chuck Liddell into retirement.
Neither Silva nor Franklin is famous for their granite chins, as both have fallen to knockouts on several occasions. Provided Silva’s chin survives Franklin’s attack as he finds his tempo early on in the fight, he should begin to start firing on all cylinders in round two or three. Both men have seen it all in this sport, and, given their experience, neither will go down easily. Yet, having fought more recently, and having had more time to prepare than his opponent, the longer this fight goes, the more it figures to favour the vicious style of Silva. This time around, look for Silva to overwhelm Franklin. He will unleash wild punches in bunches, and perhaps the same knees from the clinch that current Champ Anderson Silva used to beat Franklin twice, pummelling him consistently until the former math teacher can take no more.
The Pick: Their record together grows to 1-1, as Silva survives the early attacks of Franklin, and wins by third-round knockout. Whether either man’s career lasts long enough for a third fight remains to be seen.