Now that the UFC has such a rich talent pool, we (the fans) are able to witness some really competitive match-ups. Joe Silva – the matchmaker for the UFC – now has a lot to work with and this Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson showdown is a perfect example of what we should be seeing more of. Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson have a lot in common with each other. Both are former champion fighters who at one point, were seemingly unbeatable. Since then, both fighters have experienced some hard losses and both “one-time supermen” seem to share the same kryptonite in Anderson Silva.
However, this fight is taking place in the light heavyweight (205lbs) weight class. New fans of mixed martial arts may not be familiar with Dan Henderson’s accomplishments overseas in the now-bankrupt PRIDE organization but Dan Henderson knocked out Wanderlei Silva to become PRIDE’S light heavyweight champion. As a matter of fact, Dan Henderson held both the middleweight and light heavyweight titles at the same time. Of course, since coming over to the UFC, he lost his light heavyweight title to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a hard fought five-rounder and in his very next fight, Dan Henderson dropped his middleweight title as a result of getting choked out by Anderson Silva in the second round.
Rich Franklin has been a very successful fighter in his own right. The former UFC middleweight champion has been demolishing every opponent put in his path. That is of course, with the exception of Anderson Silva who has knocked out Rich Franklin not once, but twice with devastating knees from the clinch. Rich Franklin’s losses to Silva are most likely his reason for moving up a weight class. Rich Franklin’s choice to change divisions has been a good one so far as he’s already earned an impressive stoppage victory over the highly touted Matt Hamill in a fight where Rich Franklin displayed his much improved striking – particularly Thai-style kicks to the body.
So How Do Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson Match Up?
Both Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson are so well rounded that it is going to be tough for one to exploit the weakness of another. Dan Henderson – who trains out of team quest – is a former Olympian wrestler turned MMA fighter so his Greco-roman fighting style should give him an advantage in the tie-ups. It’s tough to tell who has the better striking in this one. Rich Franklin displayed excellent striking ability in his last fight (as he usually does) while Dan Henderson is known for his aggressive style and powerful overhand right. Anyone who is able to knock out Wanderlei Silva with a spinning back-fist the way Dan Henderson did should never be underestimated.
If you look to the ground game, well ..there’s no decisive winner here either. Dan Henderson is the better wrestler so he should be able to dictate where the fight takes place. If he wants to take Rich Franklin down, it’s likely that he’ll be able to do so. However, with Rich Franklin’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu background and submission defence, it’s unlikely that he’ll be submitted and its here where he may even catch Dan Henderson with something (although it’s still quite unlikely). I imagine if Dan Henderson is able to secure a takedown, he’ll be looking to just pound Rich Franklin out.
Skill-sets aside, the most important characteristic a fighter can have is “heart” and in this case, both fighters certainly have it. I don’t see either fighter giving up in this one and I especially don’t see either fighter fatiguing as both Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson have gone the distance before in five round, championship fights. This fight will only be 3 rounds. This is a really tough one to call, which is a good thing as it goes to show just how evenly matched Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson are. If I was to predict anything, I have to say that this will likely go to the judges scorecards. As for the winner, it can really go either way so I would just throw my money on the underdog (if their even is one).