Rich Franklin claimed his second victory over Wanderlei Silva tonight at UFC 147 by unanimous decision after five rounds of action.
Silva looked tenative in the opening stages of the first round and Franklin took the center of the cage and carefully picked his shots, find a home for a few punches straight down the pipe.
Silva tried to go upstairs with a head kick, but Franklin was able to deflect it.
A clipping punch from Franklin appears to send Silva to the mat momentarily, though it could have just been a slip.
Franklin seems to gain confidence from it though and starts to get a little looser with his strikes, piecing together a nice flurry of punches followed by a mid-kick.
Silva throws up another head kick and it connects, but Franklin appears unphased and he keeps Silva from charging in on him with a stiff jab. He tries again with the same kick, but this time Franklin is wise to it.
The round comes to a close with Silva still circling and looking hesitant to engage as we know he can.
Franklin continued to stalk the circling Silva in the second round and had some nice moments with combinations of punches against the cage, and that left Silva bleeding a little from his face.
Up until this point Silva had been unusually cautious, but in the final 90 seconds of the round he suddenly came to life, charging forward in trademark fashion throwing bombs. He clipped Franklin with a punch and smelling blood he continued to throw punches and knees aggressively.
Franklin was in real danger here as he continued to take damage and a straight right sent him crashing to the canvas. Silva hammered away at him on the ground with strikes, but while he was still clearly dazed Franklin had enough about him to keep moving just enough to keep the referee from stopping the fight and barely survived to the end of the round.
Given the trouble he was in just a minute ago, Franklin seemed ok again as he headed into the third. By the same token Silva appeared to be heading back to his cautious style again, perhaps mindful to conserve energy with this being a five round fight.
That allowed Franklin to get a foothold in the fight again and things were starting to look very similar to how the first round played out.
Having said that Franklin did change things up in the final minute, landing a nice straight right and then spinning around to take Silva’s back, before taking him down.
Getting to half-guard Franklin postured up and managed to tenderize Silva’s face with a number of elbow strikes and punches to close the round.
Onto the fourth round and you have to wonder if Silva’s exertions trying to finish the fight at the end of the second round have tired him out as he wasn’t offering up much in the way of offense here.
That suited Franklin who was happy to keep his distance and select his shots carefully, slowly chipping away at Silva with the jab and the straight left along with the occasional body kick.
It was telling that Silva’s best strike of the round was actually an illegal one – a kick that strayed to the groin and forced a fairly long stoppage while Franklin recovered.
The pattern continues in the opening minutes of the final round with the jab being Franklin’s most common weapon, with the occasional straight left also finding it’s home.
Silva was offering little in return other than a head kick that was blockekd and you have to imagine he’s bracing himself for a big assault in the final minute.
He waits until there is literally a minute left before motioning for the crowd to start cheering and then firing forward with a straight right that lands.
Franklin wisely gets on his bike and strangely Silva doesn’t try to follow up just yet.
Something’s brewing though and with 15 seconds left they start to trade toe-to-toe, swinging wildly trying to take each other’s heads off.
With the final punch Franklin lands a left hook to Silva’s jaw that drops him to one knee just as the bell sounds.
So it’s down to the scorecards and the judges are all convinced that Franklin is the rightful winner, with all scoring it 49-46.
Franklin was definitely worthy of the win here and showed tremendous heart to hang in there when Silva blitzed on him in the second round. That aside he looked slick on his feet and put the icing on the cake when he rocked the Brazilian with the final punch of the fight.
As for Silva, it certainly wasn’t a vintage performance, with that second round burst of activity being one of the few times when we say the “real” Wanderlei.