Saturday, June 23, 2012

*UFC147: Franklin vs. Silva Could be a Sleeper Hit

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UFC 147 seems to have been preordained as a failure by some, with an injury-plagued card wreaking havoc on several of the intended matchups. It’s that lowered expectation that could see the thrown-together main event rematch of Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva and Rich “Ace” Franklin steal the show.

At first glance, it would seem that the stakes for either fighter couldn’t be much lower, as neither Silva nor Franklin find themselves in serious contention for a title shot in their respective divisions. Even if they were, the 190-pound catchweight format would not serve to advance them in those rankings. What makes this fight most intriguing is the setting. The intended main event of Silva vs. Vitor Belfort would have been a rematch of two hometown babyfaces, creating a potential love-in for local Brazilian fans. Franklin presents a bad guy for people to root against, especially since he edged out Silva in a hard fought decision after their first fight back in 2009
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Rich Franklin has made a habit of taking fights on short notice, which could be dangerous for either fighter. On one hand, Franklin has not enjoyed the luxury of a full camp training for Silva. He had originally been preparing to fight Cung Le at UFC 148. On the other hand, Silva has also been preparing for a different fighter, and the short-term adjustment in training styles could easily see him get caught by surprise. 

One thing is for certain; never count Rich Franklin out. He may be coming off of a tough loss to Forest Griffin way back in February of 2011, but the former math teacher is a grizzled veteran, and always has a few tricks up his sleeve.

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Silva is going to have the spirit of his entire home nation behind him, making him an even more dangerous fighter than he already is. He may not be getting the chance to avenge his 1998 loss to the Brazilian living legend Belfort, but he will still have that fire of redemption burning against Franklin. Silva fell victim to Franklin’s footwork and striking in their first matchup at UFC 99, but the long layoff for Franklin could have a negative effect on his timing. If “Ace” spends a round trying to get his rhythm back, Silva’s still-potent knockout power could very well find it’s way to Franklin’s suspect chin (four out of Franklin’s six career losses have come via KO or TKO).

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What fans can be certain of is that this fight will be a war, as both men are more than happy to stand up and bang. However, if Silva does damage early, look for Franklin to shoot for a takedown; his 10 career submission wins would indicate that he's the more comfortable of the two on the ground. 
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The atmosphere in the building will be electric, and even though there’s no title or contendership on the line, both men certainly have a lot to prove. Franklin wants to prove that the first fight was not a fluke, Silva wants to prove that it was, and both want to show the MMA world that they’ve still got the goods to put on marketable fights beyond just their name value. 

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