Franklin vs. Belfort

The main event of UFC 103 is a battle of two former UFC champions when Rich Franklin faces Vitor Belfort at a catch weight of 195 pounds.

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Franklin enters the fight as the favorite with a betting line of -155 with Belfort given a line of +125 according to online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com. Here is a closer look at both fighters heading into this main event bout, which will take place from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Tx. at 10PM ET on pay-per-view.

Rich Franklin (27-4, 1 No Contest):

Strengths: Franklin is always a game fighter that will bring the fight to his opponents and not look to just out-point his way to a win. Franklin has a strong stand up game as his mixes a good jab with powerful hooks. Franklin also has a strong body kick, which he used to defeat Matt Hamill last September. Franklin also has some wrestling background and submission skills, but hasn’t displayed them unless necessary. Aside from Anderson Silva, no other fighter has knocked Franklin out in the UFC, as Franklin has displayed that he can take a punch. Franklin has also fought through pain, as he broke his left hand early in his five-round win over David Loiseau in March of 2006.

Weaknesses: Franklin came on the UFC scene and dominated his way to the UFC middleweight championship. Since his two losses to Silva, Franklin has become more of a gatekeeper than a contender. Franklin lost a close decision to Dan Henderson at UFC 93, but rebounded with a win over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 99. A win over Belfort still leaves Franklin without much of a place in the UFC, as he is not a contender for either the middleweight or light heavyweight belts. Franklin is good, but it is clear he is not the best in either weight class. Also, aside from Silva, Franklin hasn’t fought against someone that has the hand speed like Belfort, which means having a stand up war on Saturday, could lead to his downfall.

Last Five Fights:

Unanimous decision win over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 99 on June 13, 2009

Split decision loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 93 on Jan. 17, 2009

Third round TKO win over Matt Hamill at UFC 88 on Sept. 6, 2008

Second round TKO win over Travis Lutter at UFC 83 on April 19, 2008

Second round TKO loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 77 on Oct. 20, 2007

 

Vitor Belfort (18-8):

Strengths: Belfort is an explosive fighter that has quickness and power in his hands. Belfort has done a lot of training on boxing and muay thai striking. Belfort has trained in jiu jitsu, but always relied on his striking to get him victories. In his career, Belfort has some of the most devastating wins in MMA history. In his most recent fight, Belfort knocked out Matt Lindland in 37 seconds and left Lindland unconscious for minutes after the fight. Belfort also delivered on of the largest cuts in MMA history when a knee to Marvin Eastman left a wound on Eastman’s head that looked more like he was hit by an axe than a knee.

Weaknesses: Belfort is considered to be a mentally weak fighter that will fold early when he realizes he is in a tough fight. Losses to Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Tito Ortiz showed Belfort come out strong early and then fade, whether by conditioning or by a lack of confidence in himself. Belfort has tried to shed that image, and has won his last four fights. Belfort has also struggled with wrestlers, as his inability to defend the takedown led to important losses to Couture, Ortiz, and Henderson.

Last Five Fights:

First round KO win over Matt Lindland at Affliction 2 on Jan. 24, 2009

Second round KO win over Terry Martin at Affliction 1 on July 19, 2008

Unanimous decision win over James Zikic at CR 23 on Sept. 22, 2007

First round TKO win over Ivan Serati at CR 21 on April 21, 2007

Unanimous decision loss to Dan Henderson at Pride 32 on Oct. 21, 2006

 

Who will win: If Belfort is in the right mindset, he can beat Franklin and perhaps beat him with an explosive knockout. But, Belfort has to understand that he may have to grind out a 15-minute war to win. Franklin has been through these wars and come out victorious and could do so on Saturday if Belfort is not up to the challenge. I think Belfort has re-dedicated himself to MMA and knowing a potential fight with Anderson Silva could be waiting for him with a victory, I expect him to be at his best and to defeat Franklin in the second round with a TKO stoppage due to strikes.

Additional Line: Over/Under 11 minutes for fight length. Over and Under lines both at -120.

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Posted: 9/14/09 8:33PM ET

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