Franklin vs. Henderson Too Close to Call
Preview by Brady Crytzer
While the sporting world has familiarized itself with the diverse facets of mixed martial arts, many have learned that there are no “sure things.” Most got off easy; some have learned the hard way.
On Saturday January 17th, UFC 93 delivers a main event that is possibly the most evenly matched headliner in the organizations recent history. Live from the Dublin, Ireland, former world middleweight champion Rich “Ace” Franklin squares off with former PrideFC 185 lb. and 205 lb. champion Dan Henderson.
Although each man has proved himself time and again to be an ultimate workhorse, the intricacies of January’s main event will surely leave even the most reliable “experts” breathless (and possibly penniless) when trying to determine a winner.
After making a career at 185 pounds, both men now move up to the light heavyweight limit of 205 pounds on January 17th. Let’s see which factors will tip the odds in favor of either man, but bettors beware -- General Motors may be a safer bet than UFC 93’s feature attraction
Strengths: Known as the man who revived a broken and fledgling UFC middleweight division, Rich Franklin proved to have the right stuff to hold his world title and turn the 185 lb. weight class into a true powerhouse when some were still questioning its validity. Franklin is well respected by his peers as a true revolutionary in pre-fight preparation. Rich Franklin has been and will always be in shape every time he steps into the Octagon. “Ace’s” tenacious training regimen has allowed him to walk away from five round fights looking like he had another fifteen minutes left in him.
Weaknesses: Franklin is a true product of mixed martial arts. Although he lacks a pedigree in any amateur discipline, he has learned on the job to produce highlight reel KO’s and slick submissions. This does hurt him in his next match up however as he is facing a true wrestling powerhouse. A shaky chin and a tendency to cut makes any toe-to-toe scrap a risky venture for this Cincinnati native. Back to back knockout losses to Anderson Silva and a grappling scare against Travis Lutter make Franklin’s mental state a wildcard in this middleweight bout.
Strengths: There are few fighters who have stepped up to the plate more in their careers than Dan Henderson. He has waged wars against heavyweights like “Minotauro” Nogueira, light heavyweights “Rampage” Jackson and Wanderlai Silva and the best pound for pound fighter in the world Anderson Silva. Henderson has been a staple of the vaunted Team Quest in Temecula, CA as both a fighter and trainer. His time served as a former Olympian has translated well into the sport of mixed martial arts as his Greco-Roman wrestling skills have proved to be nearly unstoppable. Ever improving striking skills and a tendency to exchange heavy blows have made Henderson the only man to hold two different belts in two different weight classes at the same time.
Weaknesses: As previously stated, Henderson has fought some of the best in the world. The problem? He has come up on the losing end against both Nogueira brothers, both unrelated Silvas (although he did deliver a brutal knockout to Wanderlai in their epic rematch) and Jackson. Another issue-two of those losses have come in his last three professional bouts. Henderson can be reckless at times and will lose to a world class fighter with a solid game plan, particularly one he doesn’t anticipate.
Simply put-Henderson. Rich Franklin was once widely regarded as the number one 185’er on the planet until he collided head on with Anderson Silva. The Silva bouts were a trying time for Franklin as it revealed some internal weaknesses; particularly that he could be bullied by a fighter who won’t crack under pressure.
Dan Henderson is as hard as nails.
Although Franklin was impressive against limited competition like Nate Quarry and David Loiseau, he has yet to find success against world class competition.
It may not be quick and it may not be pretty, but look for Henderson to win this fight with superior wrestling, harder punches and plain old toughness. Don’t expect an early stoppage as Franklin has proven to be all heart in the past. Expect the judges to decide this one.