In short, everyone knew that he loved to throw hands.
Sure his past fights had sometimes ventured to the ground, a situation that he'd proven more than capable of handling. But, if given the choice, Ace had always chosen to strike.
On October 14th, that, unfortunately for Rich Franklin, did not change. Franklin chose to stand and trade with Brazilian Muay Thai fighter, Anderson "The Spider" Silva. As usual with Franklin bouts, this fight didn't go to a decision (21 of his 22 fights have ended via stoppage).
But there were many things that separated this bout from his other UFC encounters. The most important of these being that Franklin wasn't the one with his hand raised in the end.
It was only his second career loss.
Afterwards, when asked what happened, Franklin was his usual truthful self. "I was not expecting him to be that strong in the clinch. I expected it to be my sweet spot (the clinch), and it gave me a lot of trouble."
Perhaps Franklin had underestimated Anderson Silva's Muay Thai skills completely. After all, before the fight in an interview with Gracie Magazine, he said the following in regard to Silva's striking speed and accuracy. "Every week that I go down to my boxing gym or when I work with some of the Thai fighters at the Muay Thai school that I train at, I'm working with guys that have that kind of speed and accuracy."
That was his first mistake - thinking that he'd been training with people at the Muay Thai level of Anderson Silva. There are few if any MMA fighters in his class when it comes to striking.
The contest actually started off with two rather tentative fighters, already a deviation from Franklin's usually aggressive style. Then about two minutes in, things began to heat up. Silva connected with a leg kick; Franklin came back with a rather awkward left hook. Soon after, Silva landed a front kick.
Just two fighters trying to feel each other out.
Then Silva grasped the back of Franklin's head in a Thai clinch. Nothing mixed martial arts fans haven't seen before, right?
Guys like Wanderlei Silva have used the clinch to their advantage time and time again, raining powerful knees up at their opponents. But usually the clinch only lasts a few moments; oftentimes it's a rather brutal, though brief predicament because most MMA fighters are quite skilled at getting out of the clinch.
Not this time, though.
Anderson Silva's clinch looked effortless; further, Rich Franklin seemed completely unable to separate from it as Silva calmly delivered knee after knee to his midsection. It literally got to the point that Franklin seemed to give up on escaping it entirely; rather, he dropped his hands to his ribs attempting to block the strikes.
That's around the time he received a knee to the head. In fact, the knee proved to be the only thing capable of propelling Ace away from the devastating Brazilian's clinch. As Franklin stumbled backwards, he was hit with two more high kicks, an elbow, and another knee to the head.
Franklin fell to the Octagon floor.
And with that, John McCarthy stopped the fight at 3:59 of the first round for the winner by TKO, Anderson Silva.
So now we must turn to the future.
Therefore, the more realistic future would lead Silva to take on either Nathan Marquardt or Mike "Quick" Swick from TUF 1. Out of those two, Marquardt would probably be the better opponent as he's known for making very few mistakes, and a error against Anderson Silva, as American fight fans are beginning to see, tends to result in a loss.
Interestingly, one of those same two fighters will likely be Rich Franklin's next opponent as well.
It all depends on who the UFC thinks deserves the next championship shot.
The UFC has lost one of its most popular champions in Rich Franklin. Only time will tell if his hand injury and the rehab from it played a role in Saturday night's loss. What we do know is simple.
Anderson Silva, thus far, is slicing through the UFC's Middleweight Division like a knife through butter.
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