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Matt Juul: A rematch of their 2009 battle at UFC 99, former Pride champ Wanderlei Silva will get a shot to rectify his loss to former UFC champ Rich Franklin at Saturday's UFC 147.
Only a few years ago, this main event would have been a major bout between MMA legends. But with their careers winding down, I'm just not sure if Silva and Franklin can command a pay-per-view headlining slot anymore.
The 37-year-old Franklin has not fought since February of 2011, dropping a unanimous decision to Forrest Griffin at UFC 126. Shortly after the bout, Franklin suffered a torn labrum and has been sidelined since after getting surgery on his shoulder. It will be interesting to see how "Ace" bounces back from the long layoff and if he can shake off the ring rust.
Silva is coming off a stint as a coach on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter in Brazil, a job he landed following his come from behind TKO win over Cung Le at UFC 139. While "the Axe Murder" is enjoying a nice 2-1 record in his last three fights, it is clear that the once dominant Pride champion is at the tail end of his career.
Le was picking Silva apart in the opening frame of their bout, and a case can be made that the stoppage was a bit premature. Prior to facing the former Strikeforce champ, Silva was brutally KO'd in just 27 seconds by Chris Leben at UFC 132, exposing "the Axe Murder's" waning chin.
If Franklin can shake off the cobwebs and avoid Silva's heavy hands, especially from the clinch, he should be able to gut out a win. Silva's going to give him a fight and will be more competitive against "Ace" than he would have been against Vitor Belfort, but it just won't be enough.
Franklin via split decision.
John Heinis: The best days of former PRIDE star Wanderlei Silva are long behind him, but that doesn't mean his Brazilian fans don't want to see him brawl it out in another UFC main event, though.
With that being said, don't expect anything special outside of "The Axe Murderer" after the cage door closes behind him. Silva is 3-3 in his past six fights, dropping six of his past nine, and really hasn't been consistently winning since 2004. As a matter of fact, Silva already lost to Rich Franklin back at UFC 99 in June of 2009.
Of course, as everyone reading this knows, "Ace's" best days are behind him as well. He is 2-2 in his past four, but most will forgive him for his losses to Vitor Belfort and Forrest Griffin at light heavyweight. Franklin, always a fierce competitor, still believes he has a title run left in him and wants to make a statement here.
While the title run is a pipe dream, a win here is pretty realistic as long as Franklin picks his shots from the outside and takes this fight to the ground if necessary.
I'm not expecting much from this fight outside of a finish from Franklin.
Franklin via Round 3 TKO
Jeffrey McKinney: Two former champions and legends will meet when Rich Franklin takes on Wanderlei Silva in a rematch of their UFC 99 bout.
Franklin is stepping in for an injured TUF coach for the second time, as Vitor Belfort is out with a hand injury.
The first time these two met, both men fought a great back-and-forth battle, with Franklin getting the better of Silva.
Both men are, of course, not the same fighters they once were. Silva is 3-4 in his last seven fights, while Franklin is 2-3 in his last five. Franklin is also coming off of an injury, so it will be interesting to see if the time off plays a factor in his performance.
Silva will be highly motivated coming into this fight. Besides wanting revenge against Franklin, Silva will be fighting in his home country of Brazil for the first time in 12 years.
While I want to see Silva get the win in front of his home country, my gut tells me Franklin will take this fight in another close back and forth fight. If Silva wins, it will be by knockout. But Franklin is well-rounded enough to take Silva to another decision.
Franklin by split decision