Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva 1 and 2, UFC 64, Oct 2006 and UFC 77, Oct 2007
Some may argue that the middleweight division is weak and lacking of talent. I believe that this lack of lustre is not because the middleweight division lacks good fighters. It’s because the division is always over-shadowed by the over-populated UFC lightweight, welterweight, and light heavyweight divisions. On top of the perception that the middleweight division is not “stacked”, the weight class has been virtually dominated by one champion since 2006, Anderson Silva. Although it is always a delight to watch Anderson Silva fight, it’s understandably not as exciting when you kind of already know what the outcome of the fight is going to be right when it is announced.
By comparison, the middleweight division may not be as exciting, but it would be a grave a mistake to over-look the division. In this post, I wanted to draw our attention back to the middleweight division by looking back at the two fights between two of the most talented middleweight fighters in MMA history: Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva.
Click and scroll for the full fight videos
I have always considered Rich Franklin a personal role model. His clean cut appearance and his do-good and respectful demeanor are characteristics that I think are worthy of consideration. Additionally, Rich Franklin is considered right there with Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz, as a legend of the sport and an apt representative of the USA in the world of MMA. His first fight in the UFC was against a first generation MMA fighter in Evan Tanner at UFC 42. Evan Tanner at the time was considered one of the most dominant fighters with a 27-3 record. Rich Franklin finished him in the first round.
Three years later, Rich Franklin would officially join the UFC, sealing the deal by beating Ken Shamrock in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale. Following his win against Shamrock, Rich Franklin would once again face Evan Tanner to challenge for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
This time the fight was a little more interesting with Evan Tanner knocking Franklin down in the first round. Franklin came back, fighting through adversity to dominate Evan Tanner in the next 3 rounds, beating Tanner into a bloody mess with the fight ending via doctor stoppage in the fourth.
On 4th June 2005, a UFC star was born. Rich Franklin not only won the Middleweight title, he also won a coaching position on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. Rich Franklin has a background in Karate and submission wrestling. On becoming the Middleweight Champion, he had a record of 20-1 with his only loss coming at the hands of future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida.
The timing of Rich Franklin becoming the Middleweight Champion could not have been better. This was the period where the UFC was trying to build their legitimacy in the MMA world and popularity amongst American MMA fans by constructing their marketing model based on their star fighters Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, and Rich Franklin.
Rich Franklin was also so easy to market. He was a good fighter with good looks and an impressive record. He was well spoken, respected martial arts and understood the importance of working with the UFC to build the sport. Additionally, he had the romantic and passionate story of giving up a stable and respectable job as a high school math teacher to become a cage fighter. Born and bred in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rich Franklin was the “American Fighter”.
Inside the cage, Rich Franklin defended his title against dangerous middleweights in Nate Quarry and David Loiseau. He was touted as the most dominant Middleweight Champion in UFC history given that he had held on to the belt for the longest time.
Then Anderson Silva.
On the 14th October 2006, Anderson Silva challenged Rich Franklin for the UFC Middleweight Title. He was the former Cage Rage Middleweight Champion. His first fight in the UFC was against the hard headed and hard hitting Chris Leben. Anderson demolished “The Crippler” in less than a minute of the first round. With this spectacular performance, Anderson Silva earned himself a shot at the Middleweight title.
As Anderson Silva stepped into the octagon, he ushered in a new era of MMA. Readers of this blog know how much I respect the training and the history of Chute Boxe. Anderson Silva was one of the original Chute Boxe fighters that descended on the world of fighting and in-so-many-words, took over. Guys like Anderson Silva brought a new edge, a new generation, a new philosophy to fighting. It wasn’t enough to be a good striker with decent grappling. It wasn’t enough to be a good wrestler with decent boxing. It wasn’t enough to be mentally strong or physically conditioned. With guys like Anderson Silva in the cage, fighters now had to be able to do it all, really well, really smoothly, and with ferocity.
Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva I
Although Anderson Silva was the former Cage Rage Middleweight Champion with a record of 19-4, he was considered the new kid on the block. He had wins over familiar names such as Carlos Newton, Jeremy Horn, Lee Murray, and Jorge Rivera. But none of this mattered, he was fighting the American hero and UFC poster-boy Rich Franklin. There was no way that an unknown Brazilian fighter would come in and win the UFC Middleweight Champion.
Rich Franklin walked out to the cage, in his signature brown and pink shorts, to the thundering cheers of the Las Vegas crowd. The unknown Brazilian standing, calm, cool, composed on the other side of the cage. Once the fighters meet in the center of the cage, we already see Anderson Silva with his versatile and playful striking. Before the audience can settle into the fight, Anderson Silva already had Rich Franklin in a Thai plum clinch. Brutal and Ferocious knees to Rich Franklin’s mid-section cripples the champion, ending the fight in the very first round. A new Middleweight Champion is born, the beginning of the Anderson Silva era, and the rise of a new generation of MMA fighters.
Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva II
With his loss to Anderson Silva, it always seemed to me that Rich Franklin lost his passion to become champion. He battled in the cage with Silva and he knew that he would never be as good. I always had a feeling it was the UFC more than Franklin that wanted the re-match. Either way, Franklin earned a shot at the title by beating middleweight standouts Jason MacDonald and Yushin Okami. Anderson Silva defended his title by making short work of Travis Lutter and Nate Marquardt.
The re-match would take place in Rich Franklin’s home town of Cincinnati, Ohio. MMA fans were convinced that the “American Fighter” could never lose with his home-town fans behind him.
In Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva II, we see more of Anderson Silva’s pin-point accurate striking and uncanny spatial awareness. In the first round of the fight, we will also see risky and creative but effective strikes such as a close quarter spinning back kick and a spinning back fist from Silva. Talented striking that fight fans will become familiar with over the next 8 years of Anderson Silva dominance.
Hope you enjoy the two fight series of Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva below
Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva I
Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva II