There's nothing better than kicking off a busy week with a preview of what many feel will be a Fight of the Night contender this Saturday at UFC 103.
As the lightweight division begins to sort itself out, Tyson Griffin and Hermes Franca both look to secure a win and their footing on the competitive ladder by adding a second consecutive win to their already impressive records.
No time to beat around the bush... it's time to break it down.
Tyson Griffin (13-2-0) vs. Hermes Franca (19-7)
Why do many believe this fight will come away with Fight of the Night honors?
For starters, the two combatants have five Fight of the Night awards between them; Griffin has earned four and Franca collected one for his Fight Night bout with Frankie Edgar.
If that's not enough, their last ten combined fights have gone the distance and this one should be no different, meaning fans will be treated to a 15 minute slug-fest right off the bat.
Starting where we usually do, Griffin earns the edge in the team competition as the 25-year-old goes through the paces at Xtreme Couture, while Franca is the big dog of his own gym down in Jupiter, Florida.
Where Griffin excels with better training partners, Franca has a similarly stronger opponent history than his opponent on Saturday night.
Franca had built his record to 8-0 before Tyson Griffin even began competing in mixed martial arts, and made his first appearance inside the Octagon at UFC 42. While the two have shared many opponents during their overlapping time in the UFC, Franca has additionally faced the likes of Caol Uno, Josh Thomson, Yves Edwards and Jamie Varner.
And yes, we know Griffin was the first man to defeat Urijah Faber. It's not the same.
Which brings us to the shared opponents portion of the preview. Griffin has danced with each of Franca's last three opponents and interestingly enough, the results have been identical.
Both dropped decisions to Sean Sherk and Frankie Edgar while out-pointing Marcus Aurelio on all three scorecards at the end of 15 minutes. Though Franca went the championship distance with Sherk, it should also be noted that both men didn't do so well when they peed in a cup after the fight.
Sometimes, in tight battles like this, you have to look at little things to help you make a decision, so here are a few little things to consider:
- Franca is ten years the senior of Tyson Griffin and while we've seen Randy Couture dominate men much younger than he is, Hermes Franca is no Randy Couture.
- This will be Franca's first fight in nearly a year after recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee. With Griffin's strong wrestling base, how the knee holds up against repeated take-down attempts could play a part in the results.
- Griffin enters the ring to the inspiring sounds of "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.
Will the younger fighter who channels Rocky come away with the win, or will the veteran with dyed hair play the part of Clubber Lang?
Your guess is as good as mine.