UFC on Fuel TV: Le vs. Franklin will be the first ever UFC event in China.
The landmark event will emanate from Cotai Arena in Macau, China on November 10, and air live in the United States on Fuel TV.
The main event of the evening features two crafty veterans coming off big victories.
UFC 147 saw Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva square off for the second time in their illustrious careers. Once again, the judges saw it for Franklin. Each judge handed in a 49-46 scorecard for "Ace".
Cung Le defeated Patrick Cote at UFC 148. It was one of the featured bouts on the star-studded card, and Le took home a unanimous 30-27 win for his first ever UFC victory.
Now they meet in China in Franklin's return to the middleweight division. Let's break the fight down to see who holds the edge in this intriguing matchup.
Cung Le does incorporate some fantastic and beautiful Sanshou throws, but it is Rich Franklin who holds the complete grappling edge.
Le has not had to deal with a workhorse like Franklin yet. The best grappler he has faced in his career was Frank Shamrock, and the fight was contested on the feet with minimal attempts from Shamrock to get the fight to the mat.
Franklin is one of the better strategists in the sport. While he does enjoy a good old-fashioned brawl, he also enjoys wins. The smart play by Franklin would be to utilize his wrestling and make Le consistently work without space.
"Ace" is certainly capable of employing this game plan. If Le finds himself attached to Franklin for the majority of the fight, or even worse on bottom, then the Cincinnati native will most definitely have his hand raised at night's end.
Edge: Rich Franklin
This category goes to Franklin almost on default.
Cung Le has never had to utilize his submission game. One could hypothesize that he has been working on it and should have a credible attack, but only his training partners know for sure. And against someone the caliber of Franklin it is unlikely that it is comparable.
Franklin holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has 10 career submission victories. However, it is worth noting that half of those submission wins come via tap to strikes and he hasn't submitted anyone since December of 2004.
Even with that said he is by far the more accomplished submission artist. He's the only one of the two to showcase it in competition. Franklin prefers to strike and even ground-and-pound, but if the opportunity is there for an easy submission he should take it.
Typically I lead with the striking slide, but in this case it made sense to push it back as it is the one area worth debating.
Cung Le is without question the more accomplished striker over his entire fighting career, and has nine (T)KO performances in his MMA career. He has some fancy attacks that look good, and a lot of the time they find their mark as well. He is a fascinating striker to watch.
Franklin is a more unorthodox striker, but has shown the ability to knock out anyone if he connects. He is a good striker with good power. He also mixes it up well.
I hesitate to simply hand this category over to Le based on credentials alone. While he does have two pure knockouts on his MMA resume, the competition it was against is questionable at best. His big performances have been aided by match-altering kicks. Franklin has shown the ability to bang with the best, and even knock them out.
Overall, when looking at just the striking aspect of their games and putting the other thoughts to the back of the head then Le does come away with the advantage.
Both men have been champions, but only Franklin has fought in the championship rounds. With this being the main event it will be scheduled for five five-minute rounds of action.
Le prepares himself well, but whether it is his age or his style he has routinely found himself gassed inside the cage. The same cannot be said for his counterpart.
Franklin's cardio has been lauded over the years, and consistently put to the test. He has went the distance six times in his UFC career including twice the full 25. And there was not a lot of resting in those fights.
In his last outing against Wanderlei Silva, Franklin threw down with the former PRIDE Middleweight Champion for all five rounds at a high pace of fist-flying action.
Both men have reached great heights in their careers, but only one of them has shown the ability to endure and continue to push forward late in a fight without slowing down.
Cardio will be the difference.
I see this fight playing out much like the Le vs. Silva fight at UFC 139, except without all the damage done by Le.
Franklin will play it conservatively in the opening frame, and that will allow Le to throw his variety of strikes and tire himself out. Franklin may also try to grapple with Le and make him carry his weight against the cage. Either way Franklin will make Le work in the first round and use his cardio against him.
Much like at UFC 139, a tired Le will falter in the second frame, to the better athlete.
If Le does slow down at any point he will be ripe for Franklin's picking. Knowing that Franklin loves to put on a show he will go in for the kill on the feet instead of taking the bout to the mat. Look for Franklin to finish off, and retire, Cung Le later in the second period.
Prediction: Rich Franklin by TKO in the second round.