Franklin comes out southpaw and takes the center of the cage, feinting jabs to keep The Axe Murderer off-balance. After the first minute of feeling each other out and finding the range, Wanderlei leans in with his signature right hook, which Franklin avoids.
Franklin is staying on the outside and picking his spots in the first half of the round, staying out of Silva’s range and using his jab and occasional body kick to keep distance.
Silva is looking to counter with a big right hand. After Silva throws a few high kicks that get blocked, Franklin gets in a body kick, which Silva catches and uses to take Franklin down.
Franklin is keeping the fight in his guard for the first 30 seconds on the ground, then places his feet on Wand’s hips to push off. Franklin is able to get up and push Wand against the cage. Then Wand drops down for an unsuccessful guillotine.
Franklin jumps into half guard with 30 seconds left and begins scoring with right hands to Silva’s jaw. Silva uses the cage nicely to get up and get the fight back to the center of the cage.
10 seconds left and both men finish wildly with a flurry of punches and kicks.
The second round starts, and this time it’s Wanderlei who takes the center of the cage.
Franklin is circling nicely and avoiding most of Silva’s strikes. Silva connects with a body kick and is still searching for his range.
Franklin begins getting more aggressive and connects with a couple of crisp 1-2 combinations finished off with a body kick. Silva catches a stiff jab and goes down for a second, then pops right back up.
Silva is looking to be more aggressive now, trying to score with leg kicks, but Franklin catches him with another nice jab.
Two minutes left and Wanderlei is looking like he’s about to gas. Franklin is sticking to his game plan, picking Silva apart with jabs and circling while Silva loses energy swinging for the fences.
Franklin nails a body kick but Wanderlei counters and rocks Franklin with a right hook!
Franklin is noticeably hurt and Silva is coming for him. Franklin is just trying to hold on for the final minute now, and both men are throwing sloppy combinations. Silva lands another right, then chases a circling Franklin around the cage, throwing right uppercuts to him against the cage.
After a few sloppy exchanges, both men are exhausted and slipping. Franklin lands a few straight rights to end the round.
Very close round. 10-9 Franklin
First minute in and Wanderlei is looking to end this fight. Franklin is the one scoring however, landing a nice left body kick, left straight combo that catches Silva off guard.
Franklin is back to picking Silva apart and staying out of range from those bombs Wanderlei throws. Franklin is picking his spots and nails Silva with a nice left hook. He follows that up by kicking Silva below the belt and Silva takes a few seconds to gather himself.
A few seconds later and we’re back to it.
Wanderlei is becoming more and more aggressive, finally finding his range and pushing the fight against the cage. Franklin narrowly escapes a Muay Thai knee from the clinch and Silva begins playing to the crowd.
Silva is still hunting Franklin down and is throwing some high kicks that are blocked.
1:30 left and Franklin is back to his jab/body kick routine. Wanderlei opens up a bit and clips Franklin again, knocking him up against the cage.
45 seconds left and Franklin is taking punishment against the cage. Wanderlei is going all in now, trying to end this fight.
Out of nowhere, Franklin takes him down but does little damage as Wanderlei kicks him off and is pushed up against the cage with 17 seconds left.
Franklin goes with an over/under hook from Silva’s back and looks up at the clock. 9 seconds left.
Silva starts throwing multiple elbows behind him and that’s the fight!
The judges agree as Franklin gets the unanimous decision victory.
Overall, it was a solid matchup. Rich Franklin was looking to be technical, while Silva was just looking to take Franklin’s head off. There were even a couple of times when it looked like he’d do just that.
But this is Franklin’s night, as he pulls off a very close decision victory.