Belfort destroys Franklin
On track for title bout with Silva
Report by Anthony Springer Jr.
Photos by Josh Hodges, UFC
In the run up to UFC 103, former middleweight champion Rich “Ace” Franklin (26-5) nearly scoffed at the fact that his main event opponent Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (19-8) walks around with a pair of fast, dangerous hands.
On Saturday night, Franklin ate his words—along with Belfort’s fists.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion separated Franklin from consciousness en route to a first round stoppage and a triumphant Octagon return in the main event of the night.
Belfort displayed his trademark knockout power, catching Franklin near the top of the head with a left hand. While the blow wasn’t flush, it was powerful enough to send Franklin buckling to the Octagon. Sensing victory, Belfort pounced, hammering Franklin with several more unanswered punches that turned Franklin’s lights out for good.
With the victory, Belfort became a serious contender for a middleweight title showdown with Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
"I think Vitor is ready to fight Anderson Silva,” UFC President Dana White said at the UFC 103 press conference.
Dos Santos Ends the Legend of “Cro Cop”
Fans hoping for a return of the old Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic were left disappointed, as the Croatian living legend verbally submitted to rising heavyweight star Junior Dos Santos in the night’s co-main event.
Cro Cop—who made a name for himself as a fierce striker with knockout power in his hands and feet—never seemed to be in the fight and was bullied around the ring by his larger and younger foe.
Dos Santos pressured Cro Cop from the opening bell, keeping the man known for his head kicks off balance and out of range in the first two stanzas. Despite cutting Dos Santos with a series of straight punches, Cro Cop was never able to get into a rhythm.
Going into the third frame, Dos Santos charged out as if it was the opening bell. Midway through the final frame, a handful of big knees found a mark on Cro Cop’s face. The last was enough to send a hand waving Cro Cop into the corner, proclaiming that he was unable to see.
The announcement forced referee Dan Miragliotta to halt the bout.
Cro Cop’s verbal submission signaled his third straight loss in the Octagon. The performance also caused Dana White to question the Croatian Cop’s future in the world’s biggest promotion.
"It happens to the best of us,” White said, uncertain of Cro Cop’s future. “It takes nothing away from who he is or what he's accomplished. We just all get old."
The Main Card
Paul Daley made the most of his fill in role for Mike “Quick” Swick, stopping Martin Kampmann in the first round with strikes.
Daley lived up to Kampmann’s “Hitman” moniker from the outset, standing toe to toe with the man once believed to be in line for a welterweight title shot.
The Brit landed several devastating left hands that put Kampmann on his bicycle midway through the round. He moved in for the kill, battering Kampmann unmercifully against the cage. The referee intervened when Kampmann appeared to be out on his feet.
It took Josh Koscheck just 1:25 seconds to spoil Frank Trigg’s UFC homecoming. Trigg was floored with Koscheck’s signature right hand. Several unanswered punches later led to a halt of the bout—which Trigg considered to be premature.
Tyson Griffin put on another impressive performance, stopping Hermes Franca by TKO in the first bout of the main card.
Though always a solid performer, Griffin has been on the receiving end of criticism for not being able to finish fights.
That all changed Saturday.
In the second frame of the 159-pound catchweight bout, Griffin snuck a straight right hand in between the gloves of Franca, sending the jiu-jitsu fighter crashing to the canvas. Like a shark with a taste of blood, Griffin was on top of Franca punching away until the referee stopped the bout, saving a defenseless Franca from more damage.
Tomasz Drwal used a rear naked choke to beat Drew McFedries in the second round.
A shoulder injury caused a premature end to the bout between Steve Lopez and Jim Miller. Lopez appeared to blow out his shoulder in the second frame, causing the referee to stop the bout.
UFC newcomer Nick Lentz topped Rafaello Oliveira with a hard fought unanimous decision.
Rick "The Horror" Story used an arm triangle from the guard position to choke out Brian Foster at 1:09 in the opening frame.
Ultimate Fighter alum Eliot "The Fire" Marshal needed a split decision to get past Jason Brilz.
In a highly anticipated undercard bout, Vladimir Matyushenko defeated Igor Pokrajac via unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 30-27.
Rafael dos Anjos punished Rob Emerson en route to a unanimous decision victory in the opening contest of the night.