Category Archives: Rich Franklin

Silva Looks Flawless at UFC 77

Anderson Silva isn’t just the best middleweight in the UFC. He’s an artist. He has so many different weapons at his disposal, it must be hard for him to choose which to employ from one moment to the next.

Just ask Rich Franklin, who began last night with high hopes for winning his belt back, but left, much like everyone else, in complete awe of “The Spider”.

When it came down to it, Franklin couldn’t find any way to mount an effective offense against Silva, who slipped punches and checked kicks with relative ease. Though Franklin did briefly exploit Silva’s notoriously weak takedown defense, he was unable to capitalize. He was also unable to avoid Silva’s clinch, despite assurances that he had learned how to defend against it after being demolished in the clinch in their first meeting.

Simply put, there wasn’t anything Franklin could do better than Silva. After picking “Ace” apart on the feet and nearly finishing him with a right hand at the end of the first round, the TKO that finally came early into the second round had already begun to seem inevitable.

While the victory in his third straight title defense is a big one for Silva, what was most impressive was how calm and smooth he looked in the process. In at least one exchange he varied his attack — punches to the head, then leg kicks, then a shot to the body — so deftly and with such precision that Franklin appeared lost just trying to keep up.

It makes you think that Silva’s problem now, as much as there can be one, is the lack of competition in the 185-pound class. Aside from Paulo Filho, who is missing in action right now, the UFC might have to convince a few light heavyweights to move down in weight just to keep providing Silva with credible opponents.

If they do, I have to think that Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping could top the list. Both could conceivably make the weight (Henderson really should have debuted in the UFC as a middleweight), and both may soon run out of options in the stacked light heavyweight division.

In last night’s heavyweight clash, Tim Sylvia promised that his days of winning boring decisions were over, and that he intended to come after Brandon Vera and knock him out. Sylvia lied.

His game plan was not so much to come after Vera as it was to clinch with him and press him against the cage, smothering the smaller man with his weight. That’s how he began the fight and it was the strategy he returned to in every round as he plodded his way toward — you guessed it — another boring decision victory.

But Vera is as much to blame for the lackluster fight as Sylvia. He showed flashes of his speed and dynamic striking from the outside, but they were just frustrating glimpses. He refused to use his kicks to keep Sylvia at bay, like his corner implored him to do, and he was clearly hampered by breaking his left hand early in the fight.

It may have added up to another mark in the win column for Sylvia, but he didn’t do anything to change the perception of himself as a plodding big man who puts on a snoozer of a show.

He tried to generate a little heat after the match by calling out Cheick Kongo, even telling him to pick on someone his own size (despite the fact that Sylvia is much bigger than Kongo), but the crowd seemed unconvinced.

In other action, Kalib Starnes and Alan Belcher put on an exciting show before a huge cut on Starnes’ forehead became too nasty to ignore. The doctor called the fight and Starnes had a mini-blowup at his corner, who apparently thought their fighter wanted out of the fight.

That’s troubling because it makes you wonder what his corner has seen from Starnes in the past that would make them jump to that conclusion. It’s really too bad the fight was called before it could be decided, but it also makes you wonder if keeping elbow strikes legal is really worth the early stoppages.

Stephan Bonnar did as expected in his win over Eric Schafer, despite a couple of early scares. Bonnar still seems like a guy with plenty of potential, but he’s got a hard climb ahead of him in the light heavyweight division.

Jorge Gurgel got hammered by Alvin Robinson, which he deserved after deciding to lie on his back and absorb punishment with an expression that suggested he was just waiting for the fight to be over. Not a great night for hometown boys in Cincinnati.

Oh, and in case you missed it somehow, they call Cincinnati “The Queen City” and it was “Hostile Territory” on this particular night. But you knew that because Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg repeated it like a phone number they were trying to commit to memory. I can’t wait for UFC 84: Punch You in the Face.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Anderson Silva, Brandon Vera, Dan Henderson, Michael Bisping, MMA, Rich Franklin, Sports, Tim Sylvia, UFC, UFC 77

Fun With Betting Odds for UFC 77

So you say you have some disposable income and you don’t know what to do with it? You’re looking for a good time this Saturday night and you’re tired of helping that one stripper at the Foxxx Club “work her way through college”, especially now that it’s been like six years and you’re starting to have your doubts about whether she really is pre-med? Lucky for you I have the solution, for both problems.

To start with, when that girl says “college”, what she means is “meth”. And if you really want to have some fun with your money, why not have the kind of fun that brings with it at least the possibility of paying you back?

Obviously, I’m not the guy you go to for financial advice. I keep my money in an empty box of fish sticks in the freezer. Always have. But the one thing I do know a little something about is mixed martial arts, and here’s how I’d bet on tomorrow night’s card (based on odds from betus.com):

Anderson Silva (-210) vs. Rich Franklin (+170)

It’s interesting that almost nobody is picking Franklin to win, and yet he’s not a tremendous underdog in the betting lines. That’s a testament to Franklin’s tenacity and work ethic, if not his natural ability. It’s hard to count him completely out of this, even if I can’t see how he might win.

In the first fight Franklin seemed surprised that Silva was as good as he turned out to be. It was as if Franklin had become too accustomed to winning easily. When Silva dismantled him in the clinch the look on Franklin’s face was like a man who had just fallen through the ice.

But this time he knows what to expect, one assumes, and knows his career is at stake. Will that be enough? Will we see a revitalized Rich Franklin?

My Pick: Silva.

If the line was better, Franklin might be worth the risk. I don’t doubt his ability to retool his game plan and his determination to overcome this obstacle, but at +170 it isn’t worth it. The fight is in Franklin’s hometown, so if it goes to a decision he should have the edge there. But Silva is just so very, very dangerous in so many ways.

Tim Sylvia (+120) vs. Brandon Vera (-150)

Say what you want about him, Sylvia is tough to figure out. To some he’s a plodding fighter who gets by with a lack of athletic ability because of his sheer size. To others he’s a constantly improving knockout artist, at least when he wants to be. Sylvia himself has said that he will no longer fight cautiously to win at all costs, and that’s both a good and bad thing.

Vera is the more athletic and explosive of the two, but he’s giving up at least six inches in height and more than thirty pounds in weight. If Sylvia really does come after him then Vera won’t need to worry about finding a way inside the big man’s defenses. At the same time, “The Maine-iac” is awkwardly powerful, and we’ve yet to see Vera work his way out of trouble.

My Pick: Vera.

If the line on Big Tim gets to +200 or above, then he’s definitely worth it. But right now it’s too close to even. It’s a hard bout to predict, and the line reflects that, as usual.

So where can you make some money if not on the main two bouts? How about the undercard, which always features enough unknown quantities to create problems for oddsmakers.

Take a hard look at these fights:

Jason Black (-350) vs. Matt Grice (+250)

Josh Burkman (-350) vs. Forrest Petz (+250)

Stephan Bonnar (-350) vs. Eric Schafer (+250)

What all three of these have in common, aside from identical lines, is somewhat well-known favorites against untested underdogs. Chances are that one of these three dogs will win, yielding a considerable payout, but who will it be?

Bonnar is the toughest of the three favorites and Schafer is mostly a submissions guy (going against someone who’s never been submitted), so that’s probably not the best choice in the bunch.

Petz is a fighter still trying to find his way, but he’s also an Ohio boy fighting in Cincinnati. That means two things: 1) he’ll get a boost from the crowd and a little help from the judges if it goes to a decision, and 2) the UFC may have put him on the card purely to have another local guy for the benefit of ticket sales. Burkman is a great athlete, but he doesn’t seem to want it enough at times, so Petz could shock him.

Lastly, Matt Grice is a wrestler turned MMA fighter, like his opponent, Jason Black. Black is the favorite because he’s fought the bigger names on the bigger stages, but that doesn’t mean Grice couldn’t be a diamond in the rough. He’s younger and less experienced, sure, but he could come up with something big, and Black has underperformed in fights before.

My Pick: Grice.

For the odds, I say he’s the least risk with the greatest reward. He’s still not anyone’s favorite in this fight, but a hundred dollars will get you $250 if he wins, and it’s not so far-fetched a possibility.

Least ways, it’s still better than buying some girl named Misty another handbag and coming home smelling like the cosmetics counter at Rite Aid. Seriously, it is.

2 Comments

Filed under Anderson Silva, Betting, Brandon Vera, MMA, Rich Franklin, Sports, Tim Sylvia, UFC, UFC 77, Uncategorized

The Gatekeeper Stigma

Fighting is a tough way to make a living. Most of us who aren’t pro fighters probably already suspected as much. Aside from the physical requirements, I’ve always thought that the hardest part must be the unsympathetic nature of the fight game. There’s only room for one champion in each weight class, one top guy. Everybody else is looking up at him, at his paycheck, at his higher standard of living.

This fact of the fight business is how we get to the gatekeeper phenomenon. For those unfamiliar with the term, a gatekeeper is someone lacking the ability to be a champion or top contender, but is good enough to beat just about anyone who is not a champion or top contender. He’s a kind of walking truth serum for fighters. If you’re the real deal, then you should be able to beat him. If you’re not, then you won’t.

When you think about it, the gatekeeper has to be a very good fighter. He has to be able to beat about 90% of the guys in his class consistently, which is impressive. But nobody wants to be a gatekeeper. Not even the guys who can’t beat the gatekeeper want to be a gatekeeper. Everyone wants to be champ because that’s who gets paid, and that’s who gets remembered years down the road. Being a champion is like etching your name into the rock, or at least it seems that way.

The reason I bring up the gatekeeper phenomenon now is because I’m thinking about Rich Franklin, who will rematch Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title on Saturday night (yeah, that’s what you get when you type Franklin’s name into Google Image Search. I’m asking you, what’s that blond in the middle doing? She just had to find a way to stand out in a photo full of Hooters girls, didn’t she?).

It’s hard to call Franklin a gatekeeper, at least right now. He was the champ — albeit of a weaker division than that which currently exists in the UFC — before Silva took the belt from him with a brutal first-round TKO. But what becomes of him if Silva beats him for a second time?

At the moment, Franklin is a considerable underdog in this rematch. If he loses, no one will be too surprised. But at the same time, Franklin has beat most of the top talent in the division, including Yushin Okami, Jason MacDonald, and David Loiseau. What can the UFC do with him if he can beat these guys, but not the champion? Isn’t that the very definition of a gatekeeper?

That’s tough luck for Franklin, who is a very talented fighter with a great work ethic. While it’s somewhat insulting to call a fighter a gatekeeper, it’s starting to look like that’s what Franklin is facing if he can’t find a way to beat Silva.

And that’s why fighting is such a tough business. At least, that’s one of the reasons. It’s a world where being really good isn’t quite good enough. You have to be the best, and no one can be the best forever. Not even Silva, although he probably doesn’t know it yet.

4 Comments

Filed under Anderson Silva, MMA, Rich Franklin, Sports, UFC