Rich Franklin came into his fight with Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva at UFC 147 with two strikes against him. The first strike being that he was a late replacement for an injured Vitor Belfort, and the that he was fighting in Silva's backyard.
But it was Franklin's striking that earned him a unanimous decision Saturday at Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Franklin (29-6, UFC 14-5) controlled four of the five rounds, the only exception being the second when Silva (34-12-1, UFC 4-7) connected with an overhand right that knocked the former math teacher to the canvas. He followed with a barrage of punches, and it looked as though referee Mario Yamasaki would stop the fight. But Franklin kept his guard up.
I have seen many fights stopped with lesser punches being connected, but in this case Franklin did keep his defense up, so the right decision was made to continue the fight.
Franklin was able to survive the round, and Silva may have punched himself out.
"At the end of the second round, I really thought I was going to be able to knock him out," Silva said. "I really wanted to, but I'm sorry I wasn't able to. ... I pushed it a bit too much, but I really wanted to knock him out. I just want to thank the crowd, because I fight for you. My fans are who I do this for."
When Franklin was asked after the fight about the second round beating he took, he admitted: "Honestly, I don't remember between the second and fifth rounds. I just remember my corner man saying it was the fifth round."
Franklin may not remember much after the second round, but for the next three rounds he put on a boxing clinic. He remained on his toes and out-boxed the former Pride Fighting Championship middleweight champ.
"When that kinds of stuff happens, you remember bits and pieces," Franklin said. "My coach told me not to get greedy, to pick my punches. I thought I did a good job of that. I was operating on autopilot."
Franklin hopes the victory would move him back into contention for a title shot.
It was Franklin who beat Chuck Liddell into retirement, and he may have done it to another legend in Wanderlei Silva.