Rich Franklin is one of the most successful and most well-rounded fighters in MMA, ever. No question. While Wanderlei Silva is a legendary figure in the sport, Franklin has the tools to completely dismantle him with ease Saturday night at UFC 147.
While Silva is coming off a win (being a TKO of former Strikeforce champion Cung Le), his record since Pride is not impressive, currently sitting at 3-4. Even that is a bit misleading.
Silva is capable of beating people with unconventional striking. This includes “unconventional” (that is, bad) strikers like Keith Jardine, or unconventional (that is, high-risk, high reward) strikers like Cung Le. On top of that, he is at his best when he is allowed to pick his shots, as he did when Michael Bisping refused to press the action in their bout at UFC 110.
Rich Franklin, however, has never been particularly wild in his striking. The latter is somewhat worrisome for him; however, he is neither slow nor tentative in his approach and thus should be able to press the action when he needs to. He'll need to at times to be successful in this bout.
Silva, again, has four losses during this span. Two of those losses were decisions from fast-paced bouts against Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin. Both fights' winners kept it coming from start to finish and Silva, contrary to what he may say, did not quite keep up with them.
Silva's other two losses were harsh, harsh first-round knockouts to Quinton Jackson and Chris Leben. Silva tried to press the action in both but ultimately got knocked out both times. He was unconscious for so long, in fact, that Dana White began his attempts at pressing him into retirement in the same way he forced Chuck Liddell out the door.
Franklin is sitting at 2-3 in his last five, but a good portion of that is because he has been fighting outside of his native weight class. His most recent fight was against Forrest Griffin, which was terribly awkward, as Franklin should have been fighting at middleweight while Griffin remains one of the biggest light heavyweights in the UFC. Silva, though, does not have a size advantage over Franklin.
Franklin also lost to Vitor Belfort via first-round knockout at UFC 103. Belfort, though, is one of the scariest knockout artists in the UFC, and Silva simply does not have that sort of power anymore.
Both guys have an immeasurable amount of cave savvy, so watch for this fight to become a methodical, but relatively fast-paced, kickboxing match. Franklin can easily, easily win as long as he stays smart and presses the action from start to finish (and maintains the gas tank to facilitate this).