UFC 99 War Report: Rich Franklin will TKO Wanderlei Silva

The concept for the War Report is simple. Two writers will draw a line in the sand on which fighter they believe will win the fight. This time up is a UFC 99 clash between Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva.

This card will be the first for the country of Germany, and while the UFC didn’t put a title fight on the card, Franklin vs. Silva is a fight both hardcore and mainstream fans alike can get behind.

With the fight card less then twenty-four hours away let’s get to it.

The Set-up

This battle, contested at a catch weight of 195 pounds, has the two fighters going in different directions. Franklin is a former 185 pound champion, but two brutal losses to divisional kingpin Anderson Silva had his future in question. He finally settled on the 205 pound division, but when the UFC asked him to cut the ten pounds to fight Wanderlei Silva, he jumped at the prospect.

As for Silva, too many wars against bigger opponents have finally caught up to him. After his sudden KO loss to Rampage Jackson, Silva decided to dip his toe into lighter waters.  Before jumping head first into the 185 pound division, he is getting his feet wet at in-between fight.

With Silva losing four out of his five fights, and Franklin losing an important battle to Dan Henderson in his last, both fighters need this win, which will adds to the fun.

Ground Game

This fight will not likely end up on the ground as Silva likes to end the fight standing as soon as possible while Franklin has been vocal about looking forward to having the opportunity to stand and strike. Franklin’s grown tired of pesky wrestlers. The only way this fight goes to the ground is if someone gets knocked down and the other fighter follows suite to dish out some ground-and-pound.

Silva has a black belt in jiu-jitsu but he does not use it for offense. Call it an insurance plan if someone tries to submit him and also to avoid ground-and-pound. Silva has only submitted one opponent in a fight and that was back in 2000. If you haven’t seen Silva attempt to submit Rampage Jackson in a standing guillotine in their first PRIDE fight, check it out.

Franklin has a brown belt in jiu-jitsu and nine of his twenty-four MMA wins are via submission. But all of those were prior to his UFC days. Like Silva, it’s not a place he goes to. He will use it to avoid danger and work to transition favorably on the ground. If the fight does end up on the ground, for whatever reason, Franklin would have the slight functional advantage, but would not have enough to pull the wool over Silva’s head with a submission win.

One reason for Franklin to take the fight to the ground would be to avoid Silva’s striking but it may be too late for Franklin if it comes to that.

Stand-Up game

Here is where the action will commence. While both fighters like to strike, they have very different approaches. Silva will most likely come in guns-a-blazing and look to rock Franklin early. With Franklin dazed he’d look to wrap his hands around Franklin’s neck and pull him into the Muay Thai clinch From there he’d unleash a barrage of knees to the body and face; crumpling Franklin.

Either of Silva’s fights with Rampage Jackson, under the Pride banner are a perfect example; here is their second scrap. While Silva’s trainers may implore Silva to diversity his attack, at this point, it seems pointless to teach an old dog new tricks, especially when those tricks worked so well in the past.

Franklin has a much more technical and diverse stand-up game. He will use a full arsenal of strikes, from the jab to hooks, mixing in leg kicks. More technical means Franklin will use angles and move around the cage to avoid getting bum rushed by Silva. Franklin will frustrate Silva with his reach and movement. Franklin’s best bet is to avoid too much damage while picking Silva a part in the process.

While Franklin does not have the explosive power of Silva, he can chop Silva down with his own axe. Franklin has cleaned up his defense against the Muay Thai clinch. Add to that Silva has not used his clinch effectively in some time, so assuming he can utilize it in this fight is indefinite. Also, Wanderlei never had the clinch Anderson violated Franklin with. Giving the advantage it to one fighter over the other reveals he winner, oh well, Franklin gets the nod because of his diverse tool set vs. Silva’s single minded mentality.

The Intangibles

Franklin’s mentality had to be shaky coming off his two devastating losses. Franklin is a very cerebral person so the risk of over thinking things is there. But Franklin has rebounded since then and has looked impressive in the process. Despite his loss to Henderson, a fight he and others felt he won, he is poised to make a run at the 205 pound title if he can. Silva is standing in his way and Franklin fully grasps that. Win a win, Franklin goes right into the top 10 of the light heavyweight division and can compete for a title shot after two solid wins.

Add to the formula, Franklin trained with the aforementioned Anderson prior to this fight. Anderson’s motivation was to get back at his old training partner Wanderlei for some past bad blood. Whatever the reason, it can’t hurt to have Anderson telling you all Wanderlei’s weakness and how to exploit them.

As far as Wanderlei, he has a different mentality then most. I don’t think his wiring has changed much over the years. He is a simple straight forward man who wants to come in and rock your world while giving the fans a good show. He is either going to do that or not. One motivation is that with a win he will have an outside shot of getting a fight against the man he hates now more then ever in Anderson.

The Resume

No reason to go into much detail here as both fighters have proven themselves against top competition. Silva has the more impressive resume based on his former PRIDE battles but that doesn’t have much bearing in this fight. Silva has wins and losses over some of the best while Franklin has beaten everyone in front of him except the best. See losses to Anderson Silva (twice), Lyoto Machida (five years ago) and Dan Henderosn (barley).

Grand Finale

Silva’s appetite for all-out attack should play right into Franklin’s efficient counterpunching arsenal and that is where the fight will most likely turn. While Silva could obviously end this fight in the first round if he is on all cylinders, it appears his engine (and chin) are starting to succumb to father time. Franklin will be able to weather any initial storm and find the sweet spot in Silva’s chin sometime in the second or third round. Pick: Franklin by T(KO).

To read the other half of the War Report where Wanderlei Silva wins click here

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