Two of the UFC’s most likable fighters, Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin battled it out in the Octagon this evening in the co-main event of UFC 126 in Las Vegas.

Griffin used a clever gameplan in the first round, avoiding the stand-up game and instead taking Franklin down and keeping very busy with bursts of ground and pound, though ‘Ace’ was doing a good job of keeping a hold of his wrists to minimize his offense.

It was enough to get a round in the bank for Griffin though, and in the second Griffin appeared a little happier to engage on the feet. It was fairly close from then on, with Griffin landing a strong left hook that buckled Franklin momentarily, but ‘Ace’ had some success of his own with combinations of punches and kicks.

The third round was again mostly stand-up based with neither fighter able to gain a clear advantage. Towards the end Griffin again looked for the takedown and a series of scrambles then occurred before the two got back on their feet to slug it out for the remaining moments until the final bell.

It was a closely fought bout, but Griffin’s dominant first round was his key to victory here, and he won by unanimous decision (29-28 x3).

Afterwards Griffin admitted that it was nerve-wracking stepping into the Octagon again after a long injury layoff and that he felt he was a little rusty, but was nonetheless relieved to emerge victorious.