Many MMA fans such as myself can hardly wait until Jan. 17 when two of the world's greatest fighters will square off in the octagon: Rich "Ace" Franklin and Dan "Hendo" Henderson. People are wondering which of the two former middleweight champions will solidify his place as a light-heavyweight fighter.
First, this writer must admit that he is slightly biased in this debate because Rich Franklin is his favorite fighter. It must also be admitted that Dan Henderson is truly one of the best fighters in the world and not somebody that Mr. Franklin should take lightly.
Rich Franklin was once thought to be invincible in the Ultimate Fighting Championships. He began his professional MMA career with a 12-fight win streak before losing to Lyoto Machida at 1:03 of the second round in Kobe, Japan. Continuing his career with another win streak consisting of eight fights, it was not until Rich met Anderson "The Spider" Silva that he truly knew what a loss felt like.
As much as it pains this writer to say, Anderson Silva absolutely destroyed Rich Franklin in the fight on Oct. 14, 2006. Mr. Franklin was unable to do anything to Anderson besides absorb most of the beatdown with his face thanks to The Spider's unbreakable clinch. Needless to say, Mr. Silva won that fight via TKO at 2:59 in the first round.
The next two fights seemed to be an uphill battle for Ace but of course he came out on top and was ready for his rematch with the monster we know as Anderson Silva.This time around Rich made it to round two only to be once again TKO-ed 1:07 into the round.
Once again Rich bounced back with two wins against two very formidable foes including his friend and teammate Matt Hammil. This brings us to the fight against Hendo.
Dan Henderson is a very skilled, world-class wrestler. He began his mixed martial arts career in 1997 (three full years before Rich Franklin) and went on to win many tournaments including UFC 17. Much like Franklin, he started his career with a nine-fight win streak before falling to Wanderlei Silva on Dec. 9, 2000.
It was an extremely good fight and a hard fought battle by Henderson, but unfortunately Hendo lost via unanimous decision. From there he went on to face some of the world's best fighters and a lot of the time he prevailed. He was even very impressive when he was pitted against Anderson Silva.
This was until he made the fatal mistake of giving Anderson his back.
Both fighters are well-rounded, battle-hardened, and thoroughly seasoned veterans, so making a prediction for this fight could be hard for anyone.
While Franklin is a very deliberate fighter with a strategy every time, Dan seems more the type to feel his opponent out and make it up as he goes along. Although it does require a lot of talent for a fighter to make it up as he goes along, it seems Rich's way of approaching a fight is better.
In no way should it be said that Rich Franklin is a better fighter than Dan Henderson, but one must realize that he is a more efficient fighter. This is made evident by observing the two men's fighting records.
Rich Franklin has 25 wins and three losses.
Dan Henderson has 24 wins and seven losses.
It is obvious that Franklin's deliberate strategies are more efficient than Henderson's "go with the flow" deal.
This is going to be a great fight and it is a very hard fight to call. This writer's guess is that if the fight goes to decision it is obvious that Franklin's strategy will earn him more points than Henderson, hence winning him the match. But if the fight is one giant sluggfest, then Henderson might take the win right from underneath Franklin with his raw power and superior wrestling.
It seems to be up in the air as of right now.
Whether Dan "Hendo" Henderson wins or Rich "Ace" Franklin prevails, the fans can be sure of one thing: This is going to be one hell of a fight.