UFC 126 Preview: The Main Card

Griffin vs. Franklin

By Jason Probst Feb 2, 2011
Forrest Griffin (left) | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Light Heavyweights
Forrest Griffin (No. 5 LHW) vs. Rich Franklin

The Matchup: This showdown between two former champions is a good one, and the winner will be positioned to vie for a title shot with two or three more wins.

The two have a lot in common. Both have had to adjust their games due to a non-wrestling background, and neither is a threat to take down top-level guys. They rely on top-notch conditioning and game planning, and their jiu-jitsu skills are generally overlooked.

Griffin is probably 20 pounds heavier than Franklin between fights, but “Ace” has competed well enough at 205, and Griffin’s game is not based on being a weight-cutter and overpowering people. Griffin and Franklin beat opponents through conditioning work in the gym in the weeks before the fight.

The stand-up battle should dictate this match, as they will likely negate one another on the ground, unless someone gets some effective ground-and-pound going. That seems unlikely, given the matchup.

Franklin is a sound striker and puts more tail-end power into his shots, while Griffin relies on a keep-busy approach. It was what powered him to his five-round title win over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 86, as he set a fast pace and mixed up his kicks with combinations. Franklin might have a tough time figuring out the lengthy Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts representative at first, but since he should have time to do so, he will make adjustments. If Franklin can build confidence letting his hands go, that will go a long way toward winning this fight, because he will not be able to plant Griffin on the mat and overpower him.

Griffin’s best ranges are in the clinch, where his height and natural aggression serve him well. Both have excellent defensive jiu-jitsu on the ground, and they know how to stifle opponents looking to score points with big blows. A submission win, outside of a dazed rear-naked choke, appears highly unlikely.

The Pick: Franklin has a big target here, one upon which he should be able to kick and use angles. Griffin is a tossup in the striking department but should be stronger in clinches and on the ground. It will be a very close fight, and I do not see either man able to overpower the other enough to force a stoppage. Griffin wins by split decision.

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