This bout really needed to go five rounds!! It was not a championship fight but both fighters are former champions, and the final bell at Round 3 was like losing reception on your TV in the third quarter of the Super Bowl with the score tied...
Griffin controlled round one mostly on the ground as Franklin did a credible job defending with a Jorge Gurgel-infused guard off of his back.
Franklin fell into that position 30 seconds in, as a strong leg kick caused him to be off balance and Forrest followed him quickly to the ground.
Both fighters seemed a bit cautious and respectful. Not much damage was done by either and both appeared a tad rusty from their respective layoffs.
Round two had some see-saw action and the conditioning of both was obviously top notch as the pace was steady, though not frenetic. Both changed levels and landed some decent but not destructive punches and kicks.
Griffin was landing more kicks early to Franklin's leg and side, while Franklin was attempting to dart in and out to land combos.
Significantly, a few Griffin high kick attempts with heat on them did no damage to the head, but most certainly forced Franklin to think about his previously broken arm.
The power on Forrest's high kicks and a seeming lack of hard left hands thrown by Franklin caused many [as early as two minutes deep into the round] to wonder if the arm was again broken.
Still in the second, a weak Griffin take-down yielded little as they were back up to the feet rather quickly. Franklin showed decent strength of his own, as the resulting brief attempt to trade hip throws resulted in a stalemate.
The balance of the round was spent circling, throwing shots, and mixing in kicks as neither fighter was able to assert dominance.
As the final stanza began, I rose up expecting fireworks. Both fighters engaged once again with similar action to round two. They traded shots, traded take-downs, traded knees, and had the crowd buzzing but not wild.
As the hour glass drained, it was apparent this would go to the judges and I had it just the way they did: 2 to 1 for Griffin.
It wasn't fight of the year, but two respectable former champs put on a pitcher's duel with no home runs recorded.
This battle begged for more and is a shining example of how flexibility with the format that was a trademark of the earlier era Pro MMA events [particularly overseas and in South America] is extremely desirable.
The flexible format idea is only fodder for argument and will never happen in reality in the USA-based UFC.
Where do these popular veterans go from here??? That’s a whole other article. In the near term at least, Forrest Griffin has kept himself in the title picture...if just on the outskirts.
J. Seijas / GuerrillaFight.com