UFC 147, scheduled for June 23rd in Belo Horizonte, Brazil has a new main event, as former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin steps in to replace the injured Vitor Belfort in the main event facing Vanderlei Silva. Franklin is in fact stepping out of a UFC 148 scheduled bout with Cung Le to give Silva a rematch in Brazil. Franklin won the first encounter between him and Silva, back at UFC 99, by Unanimous Decision. But fighting in Brazil is a whole different ballgame, and I look for Silva to come in a slight favorite for this fight.
The match is at a catch weight of 190 lbs. so is therefore meaningless towards any title picture for either guy. Franklin is being bought in for name recognition, and he likely got a decent bonus for moving up his fight and preparation and stepping in. Good for Rich.
But in my opinion, Silva is going to have several advantages in the match. Silva has been living in the USA for years now, running a gym and competing in the UFC, and Belo Horizonte is nowhere near his hometown of Curitiba, but the Brazilian fighters do have a fierce pride about their country and Silva is going to have the motivation of winning at ‘home’.
Just look back at the triumphant celebration of Jose Aldo, the featherweight champion, when he defeated Chad Mendes in Brazil and ran into the crowd to celebrate. Silva is going to want a repeat of that. Picture how that crowd would have deflated had Mendes pulled out a win.
And Silva versus Franklin the first time was a pretty good, evenly matched fight. Franklin won the fight, but it wasn’t a runaway decision, as Silva stayed aggressive throughout. Franklin proved his stand up mettle by beating Silva at his own game. And this second bout will be a carbon copy, it is unlikely to go to the ground for anything but a little control and ground and pound, no one is getting submitted.
The fight is roughly 3 weeks away, shaving two weeks off the prep time Franklin thought he had. And he will be in a hostile environment in Brazil, with travel and food issues. Franklin has been thru it all before, but they suck anyway, and it is the little things that matter in a close fight.
For a final motivation – it is said to be Silva’s retirement fight. Do you really want to be against the man?