Most see Rich Franklin as the favorite. | Sherdog.com
Rich Franklin and Cung Le will serve as main-event ambassadors when the Ultimate Fighting Championship holds its first event in China on Saturday. The vast majority of players in Sherdog.com’s MMA Pick’Em fantasy game believe “Ace” will have his hand raised at the end of the night, as 87 percent have selected the former UFC middleweight king to defeat Le at the CotaiArena in Macau.
Franklin has competed once so far in 2012, notching his second victory over former Pride Fighting Championships standout Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147. In addition to his wins over “The Axe Murderer,” Franklin owns triumphs against Ken Shamrock, Jorge Rivera, Evan Tanner, Yushin Okami and Chuck Liddell over the course of an Octagon career that began in 2003.
A former Strikeforce middleweight champion, Le debuted in the promotion with a second-round technical knockout loss to the aforementioned Silva. The sanshou specialist rebounded at UFC 148, taking a unanimous decision over Patrick Cote.
After more than a year-long hiatus from fighting, Thiago Silva was fed to the proverbial wolves in his return, as he lost a unanimous verdict to rising contender Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on Fuel TV 2. Participants in the game believe the Brazilian will rebound in the UFC on Fuel TV 6 co-feature, as 81 percent have sided with Silva in his light heavyweight clash with Stanislav Nedkov.
Silva was suspended for a failed drug test following his meeting with Brandon Vera at UFC 125, and the bout was changed to a no contest. His last win came when he scored a first-round technical knockout of Keith Jardine at UFC 102. Meanwhile, Nedkov stopped Luiz Cane in the opening frame in his first Octagon appearance at UFC 134.
Other Sherdog MMA Pick’Em Trends for UFC on Fuel TV 6:
• A solid 78 percent of users favor Dong Hyun Kim against Paulo Thiago in a welterweight contest. Kim is hoping to rebound from a loss to Demian Maia at UFC 148, where a rib injury knocked him out of commission in 47 seconds. Thiago suffered a first-round knockout to Siyar Bahadurzada in his last fight in April;
• Mac Danzig gets the nod over Takanori Gomi from contestants, as 61 percent like “The Ultimate Fighter 6” winner to prevail in a lightweight conflict. Danzig earned a unanimous decision over Efrain Escudero in his lone outing of 2012, while Gomi had a riveting come-from-behind effort to defeat Eiji Mitsuoka at UFC 144;
• Tiequan Zhang is the lone Chinese fighter on the card, and 62 percent of players think he will please the home folks with a victory over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 hopeful Jon Tuck at 155 pounds. Zhang is 1-2 in the UFC, while Tuck will be making his promotional debut;
• Most participants -- 83 percent to be exact -- expect Alex Caceres to take care of short-notice foe Motonobu Tezuka in a bantamweight showdown. “Bruce Leeroy” has won two of his last three bouts, most recently besting Damacio Page at UFC on Fuel TV 4.
• In preliminary bouts, users favor Takeya Mizugaki (93 percent) over Jeff Hougland, Yasuhiro Urushitani (69 percent) over John Lineker and Riki Fukuda (91 percent) over Tom DeBlass.