by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Rich “Ace” Franklin is easily considered the most dominant UFC middleweight fighter in recent history. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt successfully retained his middleweight title by defeating a tough David Loiseau at UFC 58. Undefeated in the Octagon, the Ohio native will put his belt on the line this Saturday when he faces Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

Anderson Silva made a big statement in his UFC debut last June. At Ultimate Fight Night 5, it took just 49 seconds for the Brazilian striker to dispatch of fan favorite Chris Leben. Due to circumstances in the middleweight division, Silva was given the opportunity to fight for the UFC world title in only his second appearance. The current Cage Rage world middleweight champion gladly accepted the challenge.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt this excited about a fight. This match will be the toughest test in both of the fighters’ respective careers. Franklin defeated David Loiseau back in March of this year. During the fight, the champion suffered a broken left hand and has been inactive until now. For some fighters, a seven month layoff can allow ring rust to set in. However, I think Rich will be recovered and ready for Silva.

On the ground, both fighters are well-versed in submissions but are more known for their striking. Silva recently received his black belt in BJJ from Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The former Chute Boxe fighter has a solid guard and uses his long legs to stay active. Although he has never submitted any of his past opponents, “The Spider” should not be taken lightly on the mat. Rich Franklin has been improving his ground game with BJJ black belt Jorge Gurgel. Training at Gurgel’s New Generation Martial Arts gym, Franklin has earned a brown belt under Jorge’s tutelage.

Silva has a decent sprawl but has been susceptible to single leg takedowns. Franklin will be the physically bigger guy coming into this fight and is the better wrestler. If Rich is unable to get past the Brazilian’s striking prowess, he may need to take the fight to the ground and utilize his size advantage.

Anderson Silva is a dangerous striker and has been touted as the “Roy Jones Jr. of MMA”. He has a good chin and his hands are very quick and accurate. Behind Silva’s lanky physical frame hides his deceivingly powerful hands that have finished over half of his previous opponents. Having trained in the past with the renowned Chute Boxe academy, Anderson knows how to utilize his knees from a Thai clinch. In addition to favoring the occasional high kick, Silva is an excellent counter puncher.

Up until now, Rich Franklin has been considered a better striker than his previous opponents. Many thought Franklin wouldn’t be able to stand and trade with David Loiseau but the champion battered the Canadian over five rounds. Franklin has a powerful straight left hand but has been known to throw looping hooks. This Saturday night, the striking advantage goes Anderson Silva.

Rich Franklin is a very well-rounded fighter and has looked impressive in recent fights. His main weakness would be his suspect chin. Rich was dropped with a straight right by Evan Tanner in their rematch. In his last fight, David Loiseau caught Rich with a counter left hook that sent him to the ground. Loiseau is a dangerous striker but he doesn’t have the hand speed of Silva. Franklin is susceptible to a counter straight right hand and I believe that Anderson Silva will put “Ace” on the mat at least once this weekend. Both times that Franklin was stunned, he was able to recover and eventually win the fight. However, Anderson Silva knows how to finish fighters once he senses that they’re hurt. The Brazilian’s accuracy and controlled aggressiveness sets him apart from Rich’s previous adversaries.

Franklin has been very dominant in the middleweight division and his success has helped the UFC grow. Standing on the other side of the Octagon will arguably be his toughest opponent to date. Although Franklin has what it takes to defeat Silva, I feel there will be a crowning of a new champion. Look for “The Spider” to utilize his quick powerful hands and excellent counter punching to win in spectacular fashion midway through the second round.

Prediction: Anderson Silva TKO Rich Franklin RD2