Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin: Last-Minute Predictions for Headline Fight

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2012

Courtesy of mmamania.com
Courtesy of mmamania.com

Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin headline UFC 143. There is not a title belt on the line in their anticipated rematch, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't tune in to tonight's fight.

The first time around, Franklin beat Silva by unanimous decision. The fight started slow, but each fighter opened up in Rounds 2 and 3.

This is going to be another tightly contested battle. Two Hall of Fame fighters have a ton of pride on the line, and that makes for must-watch television.

Let's predict exactly how this fight will go down.


Silva Will Struggle to Land Power Punches

Silva needs to land more power punches if he wants to win this fight. Raw power is his biggest advantage, but Franklin managed to neutralize it, for the most part, in the first fight.

Franklin did get tagged with a few Silva combinations, and Silva showed he could hurt him. If he had executed better, following the combos, he could have won.

Expect Franklin to come more prepared to defend himself. Silva will look to put him down early, and he must be ready for his heavy fists.

24 of Silva's victories have come via knockout. Franklin must respect that.

Silva must find another way to win.


Out of Their Element

Both fighters love to stand up, but whoever plays the best ground game will win this match. Wrestling and submissions will play a vital role in the outcome.

Franklin is an above-average wrestler, but he prefers to fight his detail-oriented striking style while standing on his feet.

Silva's fists are always his key to victory. He can't use them if he's on his back.

Look for Franklin to go for more takedowns than usual. He will be willing to step out of his element because he knows he holds an advantage over Silva. He will attempt to neutralize Silva's heavy hands by shooting his legs.

Silva's takedown defense will play a huge role. If he doesn't defend, he will have a very tough time winning this rematch.


Franklin by TKO

The first match ended by decision, but this will end with a TKO. Neither fighter really has anything to lose, and both will leave everything in The Octagon.

A wide-open fight would normally favor Silva, but Franklin gets it done here.

He will wear Silva out by forcing him to fight from his back and keeping him on the move. Both fighters have excellent stamina, but Silva will get frustrated offensively.

Franklin connected on some combinations in their first bout. He is technically sound, but he doesn't have Silva's brute strength. He will have to be careful when attacking, but he can hurt Silva.

He will hurt Silva and earn a more decisive victory than in their first meeting.