UFC 147: Silva vs. Franklin 2 Preview
UFC 147 airs on pay-per-view Saturday night from Belo Horizonte, Brazil and will be headlined by a 190 lb catchweight fight between Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin, who stepped in as an injury replacement when Vitor Belfort was sidelined by a broken hand.
The card will be the second in two days for the company, as Friday night saw an FX television special air from Atlantic City. The main event of that card was Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida, which saw Maynard outlast Guida by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47) in a fight where the New Jersey crowd turned on Guida, usually a fan favorite, for employing a less than aggressive strategy.
One could argue that the free television show had a stronger lineup than the card that fans are being asked to pay for 24 hours later. I could certainly make a strong case for that. But Brazil is arguably UFC's hottest market right now, and the pay-per-view will also feature the tournament finals from the Ultimate Fighter show that aired in Brazil this year. In that sense, the card serves more as a payoff to that television show for the fans in Brazil than anything else. Any revenue the company can draw from airing the show on pay-per-view in North America is gravy, to a certain degree.
But just as with nearly every major show this year, the injury bug that has haunted the promotion struck here. As we mentioned, Franklin agreed to replace Belfort with about four weeks of notice. The semi-main event of the show, the final fight of the middleweight Ultimate Fighter: Brazil tournament, was changed less than a week ago when the announcement was made that Daniel Sarafian, who was to face Cezar Mutante, would not be able to go. That is the first time in the history of The Ultimate Fighter that a tournament finalist was not able to compete in the final bout. Sarafian will be replaced by one of the tournament semi-finalists, Sergio Moraes.
The rest of the main card will feature the featherweight TUF: Brazil tournament final, with Rony Mariano Bezerra facing Godofredo Pepey, another featherweight fight between Hacran Dias and Yuri Alcantara, and Mike Russow vs. Fabricio Werdum in a heavyweight matchup.
The main event of Silva vs. Franklin will be the second meeting between the two certain future UFC Hall of Fame fighters. The first took place in June 2009 at UFC 99 in Germany. Franklin took that fight by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). That show did an estimated 360,000 pay-per-view buys, a number that I think the promotion will be lucky to do half of this time around.
Franklin has not fought since February 2011 when he lost a decision to Forrest Griffin. looking back further, he fought only once in 2010. He scored a victory over Chuck Liddell in June of that year. Of course by that point, Liddell had lost his greatest weapon as a fighter, his remarkable chin. Franklin took almost as much damage as he dished out in that fight, and suffered a broken arm on a Liddell kick.
In his second UFC run, Silva has a 3-4 record and has looked nothing like the dominant war machine that he looked like in Japan in the early part of this century. That is certainly understandable. Silva was in a bunch of battles over a short period of time in a country where there was no testing for performance enhancing drugs.
To me, the story of this fight is a sad one. Every fighter has a shelf life and both of the fighters in the main event of UFC 147 are past theirs. It's one thing to watch a guy in a non-contact sport overstay his welcome, but I think fighting is different. I have no desire to see two shot fighters hit each other in the head, especially not with all we know about concussions.
I realize that it is easy for me to sit behind a keyboard and make pronouncements about who I think needs to hang it up. It is 2012 and both of these guys are grown men and they will earn more money Saturday night than I will in many years of working a regular job.
I'll be watching Saturday night because I write about all of the numbered UFC shows. That doesn't mean I want to see it. And whether for the reasons I outlined here or any number of others, I don't think many people want to see UFC 147 at all.