Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson: The Bleacher Report Breakdown for UFC 93

Chris GrayContributor IJanuary 13, 2009

Usually, it’s hard to break down a fight these days, and especially predict a winner because so much comes down to game plan.

Who’d have known Frank Mir would want to stand with Noguiera?

Who could have imagined that Jason MacDonald would ignore his corner and take Demian Meia to the mat?

This is not one of those times.  Much like Lesnar/Mir I, I think it is easy to predict what will transpire in this fight.  But first, let me break down the various aspects.

Both of these fighters have knockout power.  “Ace” has it in both hands and at least one foot, and literally everything he throws he throws with power.  Henderson’s power comes out of his deadly right hand.  While both of these fighters are dangerous on their feet, Franklin has a distinct advantage, especially when you take into account his longer reach, his footwork, and his comfort level throwing kicks to the head and body. 

Henderson will not be cutting any weight, carrying between 200 and 202 lbs into fight week.  Franklin will have a light cut from 215, and therefore carry in a slight size advantage.

On the mat, “Hendo” has a decided advantage.  An Olympic caliber wrestler, it’s safe to say that for the most part, if he wants to take his fight with you to the mat, he will.  He will get you down, get on top of you, and has solid Ground and Pound to do some damage with.  Worth noting is that Franklin’s BJJ is very underrated. 

Training with the recently released Jorge Gurgel, while he may favor the stand-up, Franklin will not be dominated on the ground, and it is said that his submission skills are definitely above average.  He’s also a great scrambler, so if Henderson takes him down, I see Franklin getting back his feet before too much punishment can be meted out.

That brings us to what I feel are the three keys of this fight.  First of all, we have takedown defense.  Rich’s takedown defense is strong.  I think that Rich stuffs most takedowns, with Dan being successful in taking Rich down a couple of times.  Dan’s takedown defense is moot; unless Rich knocks him down with a strike, he won’t be trying to take this fight to the mat.

Next, we have game plan.  It’s safe to say that Rich would prefer to keep any fight standing.  He may not mind a little ground and pound if he gets on top of someone (which is unlikely in this fight), but he wants to draw you in.  Forget that he’s a world class wrestler, Dan loves to trade leather, and he knows that is what gets the fans going.  

Finally, we have aggressiveness.  Neither of these fighters is looking for a decision victory. Neither have a “how do I win this round?” mentality.  Both men will have their chins tested.  Don’t be surprised if one of them breaks their hand on the other’s head.  Rich will come out of this fight with his customary black eye and at least one of these fighters, if not both, will be banged up and likely bloody.

While I fully believe that Henderson could earn a decision victory by executing takedown after takedown, I highly doubt that he will.  This fight will be decided standing up.  Henderson very well could knock Franklin out, likely with an overhand right, but I see “Ace” winning this fight 70% of the time.  Franklin by second round KO or TKO.  I won’t be surprised to see a body shot either finishing the fight, or setting up the finish.