Reliable Franklin favored over Belfort
Preview by Brady Crytzer
On Saturday, September 19th the Ultimate Fighting Championship makes its debut in Dallas with UFC 103 featuring a middleweight showdown pitting former world middleweight champion Rich Franklin against former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort.
Though Belfort has been away from the Octagon for nearly five years, the Brazilian has been keeping busy fighting around the world and is anxious to get back into the title mix. Will his UFC return be a successful one? Let’s take a look at the particulars and find out.
Striking: Once again Rich Franklin finds himself in a classic case of boxer versus puncher…only this time with a stylistic spin. Vitor Belfort made waves early in his career as a lightning fast, power punching phenomenon as he erased Octagon opponents in record time. However, over the last five years, the Brazilian has battled complacency as well as confidence instability earning him mixed results in his professional outings. While he faltered from 2004-2007, Belfort has reestablished himself as of late by making a successful drop to 185 lbs. and stopping Matt Lindland in the first round. With that being said, it has been nearly five years since we’ve seen Belfort in a UFC main event, and pressure has been the Brazilian’s worst nightmare.
Think of this bout as Franklin-Wanderlei II, Franklin will control the bout with sound technique and volume of punches, but Belfort will land the more telling blows.
Rich Franklin has made a name for himself as the middleweight division’s most determined boxer. Conditioning and a long southpaw jab give Franklin the stand up edge in this one.
Grappling: While this has the makings of a stand up spectacle, there is a fairly definitive edge when it comes to grappling. Franklin has shown that his wrestling is strong and submission defense is sound, but he is still behind the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Belfort. Although we’ve rarely seen “The Phenom’s” Jiu Jitsu used as a primary attack, past performances have shown flashes of brilliance.
Franklin is no slouch when it comes to grappling, and he has proven that in his outings against Travis Lutter and Jason MacDonald.
Franklin possesses enough submission defense to stay out of danger (see the Travis Lutter fight) but he will be behind the eight ball in this middleweight showdown.
How They Match Up: Money on Franklin. While Belfort is one of the sport’s biggest question marks, Franklin is widely considered as MMA’s “Old Reliable.”
It is a risky venture to bring Belfort back into the mix as he has cracked under the pressure more than a few times, but he possesses natural gifts that most fighters can only dream of.
Franklin will win this fight by doing what he does best. He will be in shape, he will work off of the jab, and he will be twice as busy as his opponent. Belfort can end this fight suddenly, but don’t be surprised if “The Phenom” folds once again, this time from the pressure brought by the former middleweight champion.
Franklin will most likely play the role of matador yet again and walk away with the judges’ nod.