The comeback is Franklin's fight to lose
Preview by Brady Crytzer
In the UFC’s first venture into continental Europe, fans are treated to a 195 lb. catchweight superfight pitting former champions from separate organizations in a head-to-head showdown. Former PrideFC middleweight champion Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva will meet former UFC middleweight champion Rich “Ace” Franklin in the main event of UFC 99: The Comeback in Cologne, Germany.
Though both men are looking to climb back to the top of the sport, the reality is that this high stakes match up will signal the end of an era in MMA.
Striking: This battle of MMA veterans is sure to be fought on the feet; therefore this comparison is the most telling of the contest. While it’s not a complete contrast of styles, there is a very clear difference in punching power. Franklin has cemented his place in UFC highlight reels forever with his one punch KO of Nate Quarry in 2006, but he generally does not display tremendous power. Crafty footwork, patient timing, and a strong southpaw jab makes Franklin a very dangerous and complete stand up fighter. Silva, on the other hand, has made a career out of devastating opponents with a relentless and brutal muay thai attack. Though he tends to throw vicious punches, Silva can be wild and careless leading to vicious knockout losses in 3 of his last 5 bouts.
While Silva will dictate the pace of this fight due to his endless aggressiveness, Franklin will control the stand up with his long jab and patient commitment to boxing.
Grappling: There are only a few instances of either man fighting on the floor, and each time has been very telling. Silva has strayed away from grappling over the last two years, but previous bouts with Olympic gold medal winner Hidehiko Yoshida and jiu jitsu standout Ricardo Arona have shown that Silva can be outwrestled. Franklin however has shown very profound improvements in both the wrestling and submission departments. Considering that he has little substantial amateur wrestling experience, Franklin has a major edge in this fight thanks to dominate performances over David Loiseau and Jason MacDonald.
Franklin’s superior wrestling and control gives him the nod against Silva. Although the Brazilian does have submission wins, it is unlikely that he will be able to take Franklin down or muster any offense with the larger former middleweight champion on top of him.
How They Match Up: To put it bluntly, this is Franklin’s fight to lose. Silva has lost four of his last five bouts and has been KO’ed in three of them. Despite his warrior’s spirit, Silva has shown signs that his chin is becoming dangerously weak.
Because Silva has a history of pressing forward with reckless abandon, it will be up to Franklin to tame the beast and outbox the Brazilian. Should he choose to, Franklin can take the former Pride champion down and can inflict damage from the top.
Look for Franklin to show off his long jab and beat Silva up on the feet, but don’t expect a knockout.
Franklin will win a comfortable decision in this feature attraction with a strong mix of striking and wrestling. Takedowns and control (ala his fight with David Loiseau) combined with thumping ground n’ pound will give Franklin a clear edge in this fight.