Sunday, March 9, 2008

UFC 77 Middleweight Championship - Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin

I for one was very excited about this much anticipated rematch between current middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva and former middleweight champion Rich "Ace" Franklin, whom Silva had won the championship from almost a year ago by knocking him out in the first round. Would this be a repeat of the first fight with Silva retaining the title, or would Franklin avenge his previous loss to Silva and get the title back? As the old saying goes, "Only time will tell" and on this night it did.

THE FIGHT:

What will follow is a detailed professional analysis of the fight from start to finish, concluding with some final thoughts concerning both fighters. Please keep in mind that these are my views from my own perspective of the events that transpired. They are by no means intended to shed any kind of negative or disparaging thoughts, words, etc. on either one of the fighters involved. I have a great deal of respect for anyone, and I do mean anyone, who steps onto the mat. So, with further ado let's get started.

Round One:

The first round started out with both fighters meeting in the center of the ring where they circled each other for a few seconds trying to get a read on each other. Franklin threw the first blow of the fight with a right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's right thigh that unfortunately missed. Franklin followed up his initial attack with a right hand jab to the head (that missed) and another right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's thigh that landed, although with not much force.

Franklin kept up the pressure on Silva by once again launching another attack with a two punch combination to the head followed by yet another right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's right thigh that landed again, but with little force and no effect on Silva. Silva countered this attack with a right hand jab to the face of Franklin that failed to reach its intended target. Although Silva's punch did not land, he did show an advanced knowledge of footwork that is truly indicative of not only his current abilities, but also his future potential.

Franklin steps forward and throws a right hand jab to the head that falls short and the follows up with a four punch combination to the head of Silva, none of which find their target. Franklin finishes up this attack with another right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's thigh that once again lands, but not with much force on it. Silva proceeds to counter this attack with a knee strike to the midsection while holding onto Franklin's neck with his left hand. This would later prove to be a very effective tactic.

Both men proceeded to execute a standing clinch with each other and moved each other around the ring until they both ended up against the fence. Silva initially had Franklin against the fence where both men exchanged knee strikes to each others bodies. Franklin ends up pivoting off the fence and forces Silva back against it for several seconds before eventually forcing Silva down to the ground. Once down on the ground, Franklin attempts to pass Silva's guard but is unable to do to Silva launching a kicking defense from the ground in order to keep Franklin back.

This tactic proves effective and allows Silva the opportunity to regain his feet. Although Franklin still attempts to get Silva back down on the ground by wrapping both arms around Silva's left leg. Silva manages to maintain his balance while standing on his left leg for several seconds, until Franklin lets go of Silva's leg and forces him back against the fence. Both fighters exchange knee strikes to the midsection before eventually breaking free of their mutual standing clinch.

Franklin attempts a kick with his right leg but Silva counters with a beautifully executed left leg turning back kick to the midsection of Franklin that landed solidly and momentarily stopped Franklin in his tracks. Both men exchange punches in the center of the octagon only a few of which land for either fighter, and none of which land with any real effect. At the end of this exchange, Franklin did land another right leg roundhouse kick to the inside of Silva's right thigh.

Franklin continues to press the attack by launching a three punch combination with the last punch, a right hook to the jaw, landing solidly but with no visible effect to Silva. Silva comes back from this attack by stepping forward and throwing a punch that fails to land, but does set up a left leg roundhouse kick which lands solidly to the upper body underneath Franklin's right arm.

Silva continues to press the advantage by forcing Franklin against the fence where he grabs Franklin's neck with his left hand while throwing (and landing) several punches to the head. Silva even manages to throw and land a knee strike to the midsection of Franklin. Franklin counters this attack with a couple of well thrown punches of his own followed by a knee strike to the midsection of Silva.

Franklin, who appears dazed, hangs onto Silva and forces him back against the fence and remains in a standing clinching position while delivering a single knee strike to Silva's midsection. Silva reverses position with Franklin and delivers his own knee strike to Franklin's midsection.

Both fighters separate and move about the ring with Franklin stepping forward and throwing a couple of punches to the head followed by a left leg roundhouse to the ribcage of Silva. Although there didn't appear to be much force on the kick. Silva fires back with a left leg front kick to the face of Franklin which ended up falling short.

Both men exchange punches with Franklin landing solidly with two of his punches thrown. However, Silva gave a very impressive display of "bobbing and weaving" while standing in one spot avoiding several more punches and even a kick thrown by Franklin. Silva continued to stalk Franklin and landed a spinning back fist which landed on the side of Franklin's head. It would have been very effective, except it landed at the end of the blow and with the forearm rather than the back of the fist.

Silva followed up the spinning back fist with a flying knee strike to the head followed by an uppercut punch to the head, both of which land with some authority. Silva continues throwing punches and ends up getting Franklin in a Muay Thai clinch where he lands a beautiful knee strike to the midsection. Both men exchange punches with Silva landing a right hook to the jaw of Franklin with approximately 2 seconds left in the round. This punch dropped Franklin and allowed Silva to press the attack until the buzzer sounded signifying the end of the round in which referee John McCarthy stepped in to stop the round. In my opinion, Franklin was literally saved by the buzzer and continued to show signs of being stunned as he made it back to his corner.

Round Two:

Franklin continued to look dazed as he opened up the second round with a left leg roundhouse kick to the outside of Silva's right thigh. Although the kick landed, it didn't appear to have any affect whatsoever on Silva. Franklin followed this up with a three punch combination to the head, none of which landed, and another left leg roundhouse kick to the hip of Silva.

Franklin continued to press the attack with several more punch attempts to the head, none of which landed with any affect. Silva countered this attack with a left leg roundhouse kick to the right calf of Franklin and a straight right hand punch that forced Franklin momentarily backwards. Franklin once again stepped forward and launched a punching attack to the head which was basically ineffective.

Silva on the other hand, countered this attack with a left hand clinch around Franklin's neck combined with a knee attack to the body and a punching attack to the head. Silva landed several blows before grabbing Franklin's head and neck with both hands and delivering a knee strike to the head with his left knee, and then following up immediately with another knee strike to the head with his right knee. This final counterattack by Silva resulted in the fight being stopped as the double knee strike combination ended up putting Franklin on the canvas with just under four minutes left in the second round.

THE KNOCKOUT:

Now there were several contributing factors that were directly responsible for the knockout which ended the fight. Some were provided by Silva, while others were provided by Franklin himself. I have broken those factors down by fighter and they are as follows:

Anderson Silva:

1. Exquisite technique of holding and hitting as demonstrated throughout the fight by holding with the left hand and delivering punches with the right.
2. Your ability to utilize the Muay Thai clinch and knee strikes to the body and head is textbook perfect and is very effective.
3. Your ability to remain calm throughout the fight is one of your best weapons, as it allows you to clearly see all possibilities and act accordingly.
4. Your "smoothness" of technique is another terrific asset and shows a high level of skill.
5. Your pinpoint accuracy with your knee strikes and punches shows terrific skill and discipline.
6. Your hand and foot combinations were fantastic. Keep up the good work!

Rich Franklin:

1. You let your guard down, literally!
2. You appeared to be really apprehensive as you stepped into the octagon.
3. You allowed Silva to get in close and clinch and strike which is what caused you to lose against Silva the first time.
4. You fought Silva's fight instead of your fight.
5. You seemed to be holding back somewhat on your punches and kicks.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS:

Here are my thoughts on how each fighter could improve upon their respective abilities concerning this particular fight.

Anderson Silva:

His strategy for this particular fight was almost flawless. However, here is the one thing that really stood out for me.

1. You need to work on your kicks to make them more efficient and therefore more effective. Your roundhouse kicks were delivered at an upward angle rather than at the correct angle for maximum effect.

Rich Franklin:

Physically you could plainly see that he was in a lot better shape for this fight than his previous fight with Silva. However, mentally it appeared that he was very apprehensive once the fight got started. Here are a couple of other things that I noticed.

1. You need to work on your kicks to make them more efficient and therefore more effective. Your roundhouse kicks were delivered at an upward angle rather than at the correct angle for maximum effect.
2. Your roundhouse kicks appeared to lack any real power. Work on developing more powerful kicks.
3. Physically you were ready for this fight. However, mentally I feel that you weren't quite prepared for this fight and need to consider this in the future.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The professionalism and respect that these two fighters showed each other and the sport are truly an inspiration to all who not only watch, train, and participate in the MMA community, but also those who participate in any and all martial arts.

MY PREDICTIONS:

Silva:

Anderson Silva is going to retain the middleweight championship for years to come. The only way I see him being beat is if he goes the way of other notable champions and gets caught up in the "Hollywood" type atmosphere and attitude and then carries that over into the octagon. Barring that, he should do well and I don't foresee anyone in the immediate future who will give him a run for his money.

Franklin:

Rich Franklin needs to go back to the drawing board and forget about Silva and the title until after he has had at least 5 or 6 more substantial fights against quality opponents in order to get his mind right for the octagon and a possible rematch with Silva. His career is far from over if he takes his time to regain the Rich Franklin of old.

Shawn Kovacich has been practicing the martial arts for over 25 years and currently holds the rank of 4th degree (Yodan) black belt in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Shawn has also competed in such prestigious full-contact bare knuckle karate competitions as the Shidokan Open and the Sabaki Challenge, among others.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Shawn is also a two time world record holder for endurance high kicking as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Shawn is the author of the highly acclaimed Achieving Kicking Excellence™ series and can be reached via his web site at: Chikara-Kan.com.

Shawn is currently working on an additional series of books that focuses on the combat applications of kicking as well as how to defend against those very same kicks if they are used against you.

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